M(3), 4/11/16: We’ve Only Got Today
So much to say, so little time!
Today’s meeting was jam-packed, both with people (I stopped counting at 15) and wisdom. Today’s literature was Living Sober. As is my custom, I asked a woman who I know is in early sobriety (the woman I mentioned had 6 days last week, she is back and now has 13!) to select the chapter. She chose Chapter 3: Using the 24-Hour Plan.
Talking about “the 24-hour plan,” also known as the “just for today plan,” brings back vivid memories of early sobriety. When I was drinking addictively, the pattern was depressingly repetitive. Drink too much, go to bed, and, like clock work, wake up in the 2 to 3 am range. Heart racing, I would spend the first several moments in the oh-no-I-did-it-again stage. Next was the frantic attempts at recollection: what did I do last night? In front of whom? Did I drunk dial anyone? Did I fight with my husband? Next came the shame and remorse, a period which could take an hour or more, woefully listing all the ways in which I was a horrible person. Finally, some attempt at logic would take over: how did I get to this place again? More importantly, how could I stop repeating the same mistake?
Then, the lightbulb moment, where I reach the brilliant conclusion. Just don’t drink anymore, and this won’t happen anymore! Suddenly, I am full of resolve, because this time I’m going to do it! Those motivating feelings, after several hours of horrific feelings, is usually what allowed me to drift to sleep for the 30 or so minutes left of the night.
But no matter, I still felt good upon waking: today is the day I am going to put this plan into place. Excited and resolved, the intention stayed strong throughout the morning and most of the afternoon.
Then 4 o’clock rolled around, my personal witching hour. And it was like a magic trick, how quickly the resolve vanished, and how delightful a glass of Chardonnay seemed.
Over and over again went that sad cycle.
Finally, I started on the road to sobriety. And even then, the “one day at a time plan” offended my sensibilities. You may fool others with that nonsense, but you’re not fooling me! You ask me “can you not drink, just for today?” I say yes, then I come back tomorrow and you ask me the same thing? Give me a break… I’m smarter than that. Dammit.
However, I had already been given the gift of desperation, and therefore I did not feel I had another choice but to give sobriety my best shot. So I just ignored that particular tool, for several months.
Within the first 6 months, though, the time had come for me to use it. Truthfully, I don’t remember the specifics of the mental tizzy in which I found myself, but I know it was full-blown, and I was panicking about everything. At the time, when that would happen, the next logical thought process would be: do you really think you can do this for the rest of your life? What if someone dies? What about weddings? What if… the questions could go on indefinitely.
And for some reason, the question came to me: do you feel like drinking right now? No. Do you think you can make it through the rest of the day without drinking? An even stronger no. Then does any of what you’re worrying about matter? It doesn’t… Thank God!
To this day that remains a pivotal moment in my sobriety.
Nowadays, I am blessed to have had the obsession to drink removed, and so thinking about the 24-hour plan is not something I do daily. But one of things that I am practicing is meditation. And guess what the primary goal of mediation is? Mindfulness, bringing you back to the present moment, and reminding you that life can only be lived in the moment. Anxiety about the future, regret about the past, all take you away from the present moment, and thus take you away from your life.
Which to me pretty much sums up the 24-hour plan, so I’m not as far removed as I would have thought!
Several people talked about the illogical ways they denied the need to stop drinking: picking “meaningful” future sobriety dates, then letting them slip by. One woman thought that instead of stopping drinking, her goal would be to keep a stocked bar. Of course, the perpetual trouble with that plan was that she drank her way through it too quickly!
The woman that chose the reading did so because she is currently struggling with the desire to drink. She has to break down time into smaller chunks than 24 hour ones. She plans out her day as best she can, and when the cravings strike, she attempts to distract herself one hour at a time. For 13 days, it’s been working well, and I’m hoping I get to congratulate her next week on 20 days.
The absolute best share of the morning, at least in my opinion, came from one of my best friends in recovery. She said early on she learned that the 12 steps are a way of building the best relationship possible with your Higher Power. When you spend your time worrying about the future, or wallowing in the past, then you are not in that relationship… your Higher Power is in the present moment, which is your life! So if you’re wasting your time in the past or the future, you are going it alone, without the benefit of that Higher Power. Such an interesting perspective, but one that makes a lot of sense.
Everyone who shared agreed wholeheartedly on one thing: using the one-day-at-a-time approach is beneficial not only to quitting drinking, it’s an effective means of living life.
The energy that came of this morning’s meeting was so positive, so powerful, I am still feeling it sitting at home typing on my computer… that is an amazing miracle!
Posted on April 11, 2016, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, 24 hour plan, AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, fellowship, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, one day at a time, Recovery, Sobriety, Support group, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.