The Value of Day Counting
Someday this is what my sobriety calculator will read; for now, it is just an example!
I had a coincidental (except that there are no coincidences) thing happen yesterday that I thought I’d share about. Yesterday morning I was getting caught up with all my favorite bloggers, and Running On Sober published a beautiful piece talking about the value of sober time from the perspective of loved ones. In this post she shared that did not bother to collect her 2-year coin, and described the reasons she did not feel like she needed it.
I finished up reading her post (and a few others, I don’t want to be too melodramatic in the telling of this story), but I logged off, said goodbye to the kids and headed off to a brand new AA meeting that I wanted to support. It was a free-flow type of meeting, think more of a discussion rather than a formal meeting, but the topic was: is keeping track of sober time important?
So, given the proximity of these two events, I figured this might be a sign that I should at least think about the topic, and while I’m thinking, I might as well write about it!
Before I give my thoughts, the general consensus of yesterday’s meeting was this: we all only have today, so whether you have 1 day, 1 year, 1 decade or more, we all have the same amount of time (today).
And, of course, that is all any of us have… today. We certainly can’t bring back yesterday, and we can’t fast forward into tomorrow, so we as human beings all have one thing, which is the present. I am not taking exception to that position at all.
However, I do hold a different position on my accumulated sober time than the people in yesterday’s meeting did. The naysayers of keeping track of sober time said it did nothing but cause them anxiety, and set them up to fail. And several of them did fail… one woman shared that she felt a need to celebrate every time she got her 30-day coin (three guesses how she celebrated), and she wound up having a drawer full of 30-day coins! So now she focuses on one day at a time, and that seems to be working for her.
Here’s my position as it relates to sober time: it matters very much to me, I keep track of it, in my own mind, monthly, I thank God for it daily, and I ask Him to give me another day of it each and every morning.
The first few weeks of my sobriety, I was operating on only one emotion, and that emotion was fear. I did not pick up a drink or a drug for any reason other than my life had gone to hell in a handbasket, and so fear and fear alone was driving the bus.
But that kind of abject fear can only last for so long. About 4 or 5 weeks into sobriety, my life hadn’t improved too much, but I was at least more comfortable with my “new” routine. And then it happened: the obsession came knocking at my door. I was on my way to a meeting, sitting at a red light, and I was at a literal and metaphorical fork in the road: to the left was the meeting I planned to attend, to the right was the opportunity for relapse.
Let me back up a little in this story and say this: when I was in active addiction, the biggest and most regular bullshit line I told myself was “if no one knows, it doesn’t matter.” Variations of this: if you don’t get caught, it didn’t happen; you’re not hurting anyone else, so why should anyone else care; It’s nobody’s business but your own… you get the picture. I really and truly and really lived life with these mantras playing in my head.
So, back to the fork in the road. I’m at the light and the voice in my head is back:
no one would know
there is no reason you can’t do this
your life it total shit right now anyway
you might as well go for it
That, of course, is the bad news: the way an addict’s mind works. Here is the unbelievably good news: for the first time in my life, in my car, on that cold morning, another voice talked back. It said two things that I carry around with me to this day. The first:
But YOU will know
Sounds almost ridiculous, but that is the first time I have ever even considered that, much less cared… I will know that I did this. I will know that I screwed up. And for the first time, it mattered to me that I knew.
The second thing the voice said:
But if you do this, you will lose your sober time
Again, miraculous thinking for this alcoholic and addict. The 30-odd days had somehow, some way, come to mean something to me, meant enough to at least give me pause when I contemplated relapsing.
Given that I am writing this in a blog I started at 90 days sober over a year ago, you can guess which direction my car turned that morning.
When I share my story at meetings, I will often say that the incident I just described is equally as important to me as my actual sobriety date, because it is the date I decided, with no outside influences whatsoever, that I choose recovery.
Thanks to the choice I made in my car, on that cold morning, I am celebrating 566 days sober today.