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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 1/8/2021 – Dogs, Deep Hugs and Dark Chocolate

Mr. Tweaks in his therapy dog employee of the month photo

A colleague of mine Richard Jones wrote a post this week talking about the day to day, moment to moment dilemmas and choices between contradictory and bad options we all face right now in our confusing world. In respect to the recovery community, one of the major ones right now is balancing between isolation and the risks to recovery, health and the wellbeing of our loved ones going to face to face meetings to stay connected and risk the same from COVID-19. For many, zoom calls just don’t provide enough juice from the squeeze to sustain their wellbeing. He referenced Morton’s Fork. A Morton's fork is a type of false dilemma in which contradictory observations lead to the same conclusion. It is said to have originated with the rationalizing of a benevolence by the 15th century English prelate John Morton. It fits perfectly.

Our world is increasingly uncertain, and people feel increasingly isolated. The use of substances to sooth feelings and relieve the trauma of what is going on around us is increasing, with some consequences. I can feel and see it all around me. Calls for help are rising, news of relapses are accumulating. Stories of people who had not struggled with substance use historically but now are because there have been using more in the pandemic are becoming more commonplace in my (virtual) travels.

I speak to colleagues from around the country, fellow helpers - I belong to the “helper clan” if there is such a thing. People for whom service to others is a central ideal. Many in my clan are sounding and looking as weary as I feel. Their batteries are being depleted without recharge in a fight against entropy. Everyday is groundhog day and the world seems to be increasingly tumultuous, our care systems more tenuous.

Finding gratitude means digging deep and keeping my eeyore brain at bay, and this can be very hard. This dynamic inside my own noggin is a large part of why I started writing about gratitude on Fridays a number of years ago. This is about me staying on even keel. Often, when posted on social media, people will share what they are grateful for, like having a roof over their head after a period of homelessness, the first hot meal in a while, being in remission from cancer, or a reprieve from some other life-threatening dynamic. I get the reality check – that eeyore voice in my head is not my friend and indeed I am OK. I don’t feel ok, it is ok that I do not feel ok and I need to take care of myself so I stay OK, even in a world of constant Morton’s fork dynamics that do not seem to head in a good direction.

This week, I am grateful for dogs, deep hugs and dark chocolate. I made it through the week. This one was an ugly slog for no particular reason other than I am struggling with the balance I am trying to maintain. It is pretty much the same load I had last week, last month or through these long months but it was a hard one nevertheless. I suspect I am not alone in this. I will go for more deep hugs from Julie, cuddle up with our dogs and have a piece (or two) of dark chocolate. Tomorrow will come. Soon, the light will get brighter, the days longer and all days will not be Groundhog Day-esque. I am one day closer to that day today.

It is the best plan I have right now. Gratitude shared is gratitude increased. It is a thing I can always use more of to keep myself in as much of a healthy space as I can. I suspect I am not alone in that either.

Please do me a deep favor: share a gratitude you have today, even if it is a small one!

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