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One Day At A Time

I have had the opportunity to catch up on some blog reading, and an interesting theme came up for me, which is the mention of possibly the most common AA expression:  one day at a time.  Ask any person with long-term sobriety how they achieved this goal, and their answer will almost certainly be “one day at a time.”

I surprised to read that “one day at a time” does not work for people, that they have to commit to a lifetime approach to sobriety in order to be successful.  I want to share a story, I may have mentioned it in passing before, but I will re-tell it, because it was the very first time that “one day at a time” really worked for me.

I have mentioned that the first few months of my sobriety were fear-based; in other words, I stayed sober because fear of consequences outweighed the desire to alter myself chemically.  The next few months were probably, in looking back, “pink cloud” months.  For those not familiar with recovery jargon, the term “pink cloud” refers to a period of time where the addict experiences a reprieve from the struggles associated with early recovery.  I was choosing recovery for me, not anyone else, and I was proud of the accomplishments I was achieving.

Somewhere around the 6 month mark, I was having a completely uneventful day… nothing bad, nothing great… and out of nowhere the thought came to me:  “Will I really not be able to have a champagne toast at my daughter’s wedding?”

Please bear in mind, readers, at the time of that thought, my daughter was 12 years old, so why I needed to ponder this at all remains a mystery.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I ran with that thought and spent a good few minutes depressed and self-pitying… woe is me!  I can’t have a sip of champagne years from now!  But this is how addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful, if you let these thoughts take root.

Fortunately, I did not, and after a few minutes of worrying about this future quandary, I pulled the “one day at a time” tool out of my tool box.  I asked myself, “can you refrain from drinking or using a drug today?

I can remember where I was at that moment in time, the relief I felt was that palpable.  All I had to do was get through today without ingesting anything mind-altering.  As soon as I re-focused on the present day, my serenity returned.  I can let tomorrow take care of itself, because all I’ve got is today.

Anyway, that is why “one day at a time” is a key part of my recovery:  it is like a get out of jail free card, where the jail is my addictive mindset!

Today’s Miracle:

For the first time in recorded history, I am completely ready for the first day of school, and I still have 6 days to go!

If You Have One Foot in Yesterday, and One Foot in Tomorrow, Guess What You’re Doing to Today?

“What day is it?”
‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet.
‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh.”
―    A.A. Milne

The answer is a little crude, so I’ll let you figure it out.

Staying in the day, rather than regretting the past or worrying about the future, is an acquired skill, at least it is for me.  It takes commitment, energy, and, most of all, practice, but the effort is really worth it.  Time spent in regret or worry usually amounts to little good.  Focusing on the present brings a peace of mind that this recovering individual has never known.

What’s happened, happened.  What might happen either will or won’t, but worrying about it won’t change the outcome, and it’s not happening right now.  There’s something within arm’s reach that can be enjoyed this very instant, so go do it!

Today’s Miracle:

My 10-year old son wants to try out for a solo piece in his chorus.  After trying and discarding several songs (mostly due to his not knowing the words), we settled on Amazing Grace, and rehearsed it before school.  Is there a better way to start the day than hearing a 10-year old boy singing Amazing Grace with all his heart and soul?

AA Principles in Everyday Life

Just for today…  I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problem at once.  I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

This morning I deviated from my normal schedule, and will be attending a meeting closer to home, so I had some life-affirming time to myself.  To make use of that time, I put on an inspirational show while doing some paperwork.  And I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

The show’s focus was on what to do when life gets too hard, when you are working towards a goal and it is taking too long, when you feel like giving up.  The speaker’s answer to that dilemma?  Don’t worry about how long it is going to take.  Ask yourself:  can I continue to push forward for today?  Do I have the strength to get through today?  Worrying about how long something is going to take is wasting the time you have right now… today.  Energy for tomorrow will be available tomorrow.

This show has absolutely nothing to do with addiction or recovery, and yet it is preaching the essence of any 12-step program.  Truthfully, I’m not sure how this message is applying to me personally right at the moment, but, because I believe there are no coincidences, I must need to hear the message, and it is a powerful one.  Whether it is frustration with kids, relationship issues, financial worries, or addiction, the answer is the same… can I do what I need to TODAY to accomplish my goals?  Tomorrow, next week, and next month will take care of themselves.  If I can summon the energy to do what I need to today, then I am golden!

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