Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude begins each of my weeks in writing. For today, I want to express how grateful I am for my dear friends Tom and Bill, a couple who recently just married after 30 years of being together.

For what seems like ages ago now, I had the pleasure of first meeting Tom at a social group that’s here in Toledo. My partner and I had been looking to make new healthy friendships with other people in the area and found this men’s group that did food and coffee socials on a weekly basis. At that outing I first met Tom, I learned he had a partner of many years named Bill and not too long after that, the four of us began hanging out.

It’s been several years now since our first couple’s hangout together and it’s truly been a blessing to have them in my life. They both make me laugh quite often and most definitely know how to lighten my mood. There was one night I went over to their house for a meal not too long ago, where I felt so exceptionally depressed. But, it didn’t take long for the two of them to find a way to lift my spirit like they always seem to find a positive way to do.

One thing I really love about these guys is how much they enjoy the quiet downtime in small social settings. Like Chris and I, Bill and Tom traditionally prefer our couple’s hangout as compared to going to parties or bars. Up until these COVID times, we were regularly going out to dinner and would traditionally end each of our evenings at one of our homes playing cards, usually Euchre. Over the past few months though, in light of all the social distancing, we’ve spent more time at each other’s houses cooking meals instead and have even started playing another card game now, that being Hearts. It’s become a weekly thing for the four of us to spend time together and it’s something I’ve come to really look forward to.

There are plenty of other things about Bill and Tom that I love beyond their humor. They have a wonderful sense of hospitality, have opened their homes to Chris and I on a bunch of holidays including Christmas, have consoled both of us during hard times, have frequently reached out over the phone just to check on us, they’re great huggers, amazing cooks, and well, they’re just those type of people you find yourself wanting to be around because they welcome you in as if your family.

While I’ve truly struggled much in the Midwest making friends, I haven’t had to struggle at all when it comes to my connection to Bill and Tom. While both like to pick on me, there’s a level of love and care that comes along with it, that makes it far different than others who have picked on me at my expense. I can actually see Tom grinning right now as he reads this, because he has this overly dry sense of humor that I know only comes from that soft spot he has in his heart for me! Right Tom? 🙂 As for Bill, well, Bill reminds me a lot of me, especially in his level of energy and the fact that he’s in touch with his inner child like I am. We both tend to be pretty goofy much of the time around each other.

From Bill’s explosive laughter to Tom’s southern drawl, I’ve grown quite fond of the two of them in so many ways. Handsome, charming, and truly great friends to Chris and I, I’m thankful to know they’ve finally tied the knot after 30 years! I’m so grateful to be a part of their lives and just wanted to dedicate this week’s Grateful Heart Monday to them, because my life is far better in Toledo having them a part of it!

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Thank you for joining in on another Grateful Heart Monday, a day always set aside for reflection on a piece of gratitude from my life, which for today is for “A”, a guy I met at the place I volunteer at, who truly experienced a spiritual breakthrough and offered me a priceless gift as well just over a week ago.

Every week, I volunteer at Rescue Crisis, a place where people come who are struggling with addiction, and/or mental and emotional imbalances. On Wednesdays, I run a 12 Step meeting there, mostly for those looking for help from alcohol and drug issues. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting “A” there, a man who at the start of the meeting was quite agitated and extremely vexed.

Ironically, I’ve really come to appreciate whenever I get clients like this, as I find them the most rewarding to work with, because the spiritual breakthrough tends to be pretty amazing to witness when I can find a way to connect to their heart. That being said, the first half of the meeting was spent with “A” being overly defensive and convinced that 12 Step recovery wasn’t for him, even though he admitted nothing else has worked for him over the years to remain clean and sober for any great length of time.

With about 25 minutes or so left in the meeting, and after several times of “A” angrily leaving the room, I questioned whether maybe I wasn’t going to get through to him, so I muttered silently to God for guidance to help “A”. Suddenly, “A” burst out and said, “You have no idea the pain I’ve had to go through in this life!” It’s then I told him that maybe I didn’t, but what I did know was all the pain I had gone through myself. He scoffed, as if saying nothing I had endured could match his. It’s then I felt God nudge me, as God usually seems to do in situations like this, to talk about all the painful things I’ve been through.

So, I talked about my parents’ tragic deaths and how it all began back in my early childhood with their alcoholism. I spoke about how I felt so alone because of it and constantly was bullied in school with no real friends around the same time too. Then, I mentioned how no one really paid any attention to me back then until I finally made a friend with one of the coaches on the swim and dive team I was a member of around the age of 12. When I revealed how that coach eventually violated and molested me after months of grooming me, “A” began to cry.

For the rest of the meeting, “A” became silent and kept nodding his head to the things I was saying. When the meeting came to an end, he apologized for how strongly he had acted in the beginning of the meeting and thanked me for my honestly. He also asked me for my number and gave me a fist bump just prior to us boarding the elevator. When I stepped off the elevator while he remained to head to the patient floor, he promised to call me, something I’ve come not to rely much upon over the years, as most never do. But, the very next day, my birthday, he actually did call me, not to ask for help though. Rather, he called solely to wish me a Happy Birthday, being that I had mentioned it during the meeting. Words can’t describe the feeling I had after that within me, but it most definitely was one that was filled with immense gratitude.

This is truly why I love 12 Step recovery as much as I do and why I love living out the 12th step itself. “A” is someone I will probably always remember, not only for the spiritual breakthrough his heart experienced during the meeting, but also for his thinking of me for my own celebration, a selfless gift from him that was truly priceless and well worth the subject for today’s Grateful Heart Monday!

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

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to this week’s Grateful Heart Monday, where the focus is always upon a piece of gratitude from my life, which for today is for reaching a quarter century of sobriety from alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes!!!

Last week, on June 11th, I actually celebrated 25 years of continuous sobriety from three things that once ruled my life and were in total control of me. But, by the grace of God and 12 Step recovery, I’ve thankfully remained free from each of them now for 9,125 days. And I’m only qualifying that in the amount of days because as they always say in 12 Step recovery, it’s a one day a time type of program.

I must admit, there have been plenty of moments during many of those days where I’ve pondered the thought of taking a drink, doing a drug, or smoking a cigarette, mostly to numb myself from any painful feelings I was going through, especially when they’ve been physical in nature within my body. But what’s prevented that from happening is all the work I continue to do in my program and the guidance I continue to follow from my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God.

Nevertheless, it is often said that the longer one remains free from their addiction, the closer they are to a relapse typically because people tend to forget how painful their addiction was. I would agree, as I don’t really remember much of the painful parts of my life back then anymore nor any of the drama those three addictions used to create. But, I’m not willing to risk testing the waters with any of them ever again either, as I know my life is far better without them than with them.

How do I know that?

Because what I do remember is how my days used to fully revolve around having to have a drink, a drug, or a cigarette just to function, just to feel normal, just to exist, which only created an out-of-control selfish type of existence, one where I wasn’t the caring, kind, selfless, and loving type of guy I’m doing my best to be today.

So, yes, I have an immense amount of gratitude today for making it to a quarter century of sobriety from three things that absolutely screwed my life up more than not, even if much of the pain they once caused is vague nowadays.

Addiction, from what I’m told, never fully goes away, it only goes into remission, and at least for now, one day at a time, I can say my addiction to alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes is absolutely in remission, which is most definitely something to  thank God for and dedicate today’s Grateful Heart Monday to.

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