Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude is always expressed in my writing to kick each week off on a positive note, which for today is for my eight-year anniversary with my partner Chris.

This date last year, I was frankly surprised I had actually made the seven-year mark with him. At that time, it was the longest I had ever been with anyone monogamously. Surpassing that with yet another monogamous year is most definitely something to be grateful for.

Why is monogamy so important to me? Well, beyond the fact I struggled with addictions in this department, did you know that in heterosexual couplings it’s estimated at least 25% of them will either cheat or purposely establish an open relationship somewhere along the way? But, in homosexual couplings, it’s estimated to be more than 50% will either cheat or purposely establish an open relationship somewhere along the way. That percentage is proposed to be even higher, possibly over 75%, in some of the gay subcultures such as the bear and leather-based ones, ones that I have some history with, which is why I’m so grateful to have remained monogamous with Chris.

Have I been tempted? Absolutely. I think everyone gets tempted to stray from time to time. But, the reward of remaining monogamous has far outweighed all of what I experienced in past relationships where monogamy wasn’t present. The reward I’m speaking of totally equates to the depth of love I feel for Chris nowadays. Love for all we’ve been through, for all those things we’ve done together, the many places we’ve seen, the numerous trips we’ve taken, the countless moments we’ve poured our hearts out to each other, the plentiful personal spiritual growths we’ve accomplished side by side, the repeated support we’ve given each other through our health issues and recovery from addictions, and most importantly, for us both having the belief that God is been the backbone that’s made this all possible. I never had this much appreciation for any of those I was with in prior relationships mostly because I was so mentally and emotionally divested into a number of side relationships I always had going on that constantly led to the end of monogamy and the downfall of the relationship itself.

Beyond monogamy, I also am quite grateful for the silly banter and humor Chris and I have now after eight years together. We’re very playful, almost like kids at times, and that helps to keep the kid alive in each of us. In addition, we tend to finish each other’s sentences more than not now and seem to know what each other are thinking. But most importantly, we’ve remained dedicated to working through any problems that have arisen between us, as rarely has a full day ever gone by where we’ve remained angry at each other.

I truly believe Chris and I make a great couple and while we’ve both struggled at times with being overly selfish and self-centered in our actions, we’ve consistently strived to improve our relationship with each other and with ourselves through 12 Step recovery, therapy, MKP, and just straight up honest communication about everything.

Through all this, I’ve begun to realize that much of my own unhappiness I’ve complained about Chris to friends, isn’t really about Chris at all, or our relationship, or anything to do with any of the eight years we’ve been together. It’s a lot more about that restless, irritable, and discontent person in me who used to buy into the belief that those sappy romantic movies with all those happy endings is the way relationships are supposed to always be. That isn’t the way they are though. Relationships mirror life itself.

There are ups and downs and when those downs come around, it’s not about having sex or romantically getting entwined with someone else to cope with them. It’s about working through those downs with each other and remaining committed to each other in the process, because in doing so, the love only grows deeper. And for that, I’m most grateful to have stuck by Chris’s side for eight beautiful years now…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“If you want to feel better, go to meetings, if you want to recover, work the steps.” (Anonymous)

Quote #2

“I am responsible…when anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I AM RESPONSIBLE.” (Alcoholics Anonymous)

Quote #3

“I hate it when people tell me I don’t need those meetings to stay sober. Well I don’t need shoes to walk down a gravel road, but it sure freaking helps!” (Anonymous)

Bonus Quote

After a newcomer has made it through those difficult first three months, the importance of meetings doesn’t stop there. Going to meetings on a regular basis (perhaps not every day, but preferably weekly or as often as a person can), helps AA members stay strong and committed to their recovery. It helps members maintain a network of support within the rooms of AA, and it allows them to continue to grow and learn from the “experiences, strength, and hope” of others. Recovery is a lifelong process. Many people find that AA gives them stability and helps keep them sober, especially when life gets particularly stressful. Meetings keep them connected to their recovery, so that they stay grateful for their sober lifestyles and on the right path. Going to AA on a long-term basis also gives members the opportunity to help and support newcomers who are in the positions they used to be in, and helping others stay sober is one of the best ways to stay sober yourself.” (Sober Nation)

Peace, love, light and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Why Long Sober Individuals Need To Keep Regularly Attending 12 Step Meetings…

12 Step Recovery is most definitely a program of “We, Us, and Our” that totally relies on all of us being there for each other, and going to meetings regularly is a big part of that. But sadly, people tend to forget about that once they have some sobriety time under their belt, which is why I think many 12 Step meetings are getting fewer and fewer attendance.

Granted, there is a lot more to recovery than just attending 12 Step meetings, but it’s the meetings themselves that truly are at the very core where sobriety and recovery usually begin. And once a person is brought through the 12 Steps by a sponsor, it’s their responsibility to continue to show up and do their best to help others, just as their sponsor guided them. Yet, if everyone began to hold the attitude that it wasn’t that big of a deal to show up to meetings anymore, there’s a good chance there’d be plenty of addicts who never found their way simply because there weren’t enough places for them to go and find connection to those just like them.

I always find it funny that people were willing to go to any lengths when they were active in their addiction, staying up to all hours of the night engaging in it, even driving through fierce weather at times, all the while avoiding sleep many-a-times and not taking care of their overall health either. Yet, once sober and through the 12 Step process, once sobriety feels stable to them, they become unwilling to go to any lengths to get to those meetings, citing fatigue, scheduling issues, and plenty of other things as excuses to not show up, when all of that was never an issue when they were active in their addiction. There was nothing at all, not even terrible sickness, that usually kept us from engaging in our disease.

The fact is, newcomers rely on those meetings. They rely on the people who attend them, on those friendly hands being outstretched to them welcoming them there. They rely on hearing the attendees to share their experience, strength, and hope, which helps them to keep coming back until they find their own way into sobriety and recovery.

Thus, when sober and recovering individuals make decisions to not attend meetings because they feel it’s not necessary, or really helping them anymore, or frankly just because they’re inconvenient on some level to their own lives, it’s frankly selfish and self-centered, the two very character defects that drove all of us into our addictions in the first place.

In the end, it’s a safe bet that if one keeps skipping meetings and finding excuses to not go to them, that they will eventually find their way back into their original addiction or another one. But, it’s also a safe bet that if they keep showing up, not so much for themselves, but more so for the newcomers, for the suffering, and even for those who’ve been around for a while that may be going through those storms of life, that they’ll probably remain sober and feel a whole lot better too!

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson