Why is it so important to approach sobriety one day at a time?
I was introduced to the “one day at a time” concept in early sobriety. It was and is one of the foundation stones of sobriety in the 12 step program I have been an active member of for almost a quarter century now. The “one day at a time” methodology is also a foundation stone in other recovery programs as well as in many other philosophical disciplines.
For me the time had come. I knew I wanted to stop the madness of my alcoholism and drug addictions, (there were others), but I knew deep down inside that I could never stop for good…my demons would never allow it. And whether they could be overcome or not, I was so full of the shame, guilt and remorse of yesterday, while at the same time frightened and full of anxiety of what yet was to come…tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, or the next…
Initially the idea of staying sober one day at a time was about as much as I could grasp to. And at first that day was broken down into hours…and sometimes minutes as the dark beasts in my soul demanded to be fed. But I found a safe haven in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.
There I felt protected from the voices for an hour at a time. There I was surrounded with like minded men and women who were either like me, searching for a solution to their alcoholism and drug addictions, or like those there who had obviously found theirs. There I heard people share the experience, strength and hope of how they remained sober through some really tough days and periods of time that included divorce, job loss, our own severe illness or the illness or death of a loved one.
But I can’t be in meetings surrounded by my like minded brothers and sisters 24 hours a day. So now what? How do I make it to the next meeting? “I have a long week’s work staring me in the face,” or “I have a weeklong family vacation coming up!” And…”I hate my job” or “there will be some drinking going on this week…what will I do?”
Here’s where the concept of “one day at a time” becomes so important. Instead of looking at the week of work or the week long family vacation ahead of us, we should look at each of these time periods as what they really are, a 5 day workweek and a 7 day family vacation.
We should look at the workweek as 5 individual days (1,2,3,4 & 5) with each day giving us an opportunity refocus on our work. We should reexamine our attitude and reset our thoughts to being our best…to believing we can make a difference. At the very least we will make a difference in how we feel about ourselves as God’s children in the workplace. Our example will set the example.
We should look at the upcoming family vacation under the same light. We should take each day and each opportunity to interact with the family as an opportunity to make the most of each moment as it comes. Such days and such opportunities to be with loved ones should never be taken for granted. The wonderful moments filled with love should be absorbed to the fullest while the not so wonderful moments should also be endured…to a point. In either circumstance it is our job to respond with love and compassion.
One day at a time…one moment at a time allows this.
If we start each day off with a sincere prayer…one from the heart…one seeking God’s will and His blessing for the day…a prayer seeking His guidance and His inspiration.
Here is such a prayer that can be found on page 63 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. “God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and That Way of Life. May I do Thy will always!”
Each day we can say this prayer, or any other prayer, that brings our focus to seeking God’s will this day. If we are sincere, the shame, guilt and remorse of yesterday, and the fears and anxieties of tomorrow will leave us…at least for a while. As human beings who suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction, our beast remains, silent yet hungry, waiting to be fed with the shame, guilt and remorse of yesterday and/or the fears and anxieties of tomorrow.
So you see, today is the only day we can silence the hungry dark wolves of our souls. For if we slip into the darkness of yesterday or tomorrow the wolves will be fed and any sobriety we may have becomes vulnerable to other fouls things of the soul. Today we are the light that draws others from the dark corners of the word. Today we find salvation from our demons. Today I am free from all things that separate me from the sunlight of the spirit.
Just for today.
God bless and keep coming back!