Anyone that attends an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting or group will quickly become aware of the principle “ODAAT” – One Day At A Time. The principle behind the concept is the idea that an alcoholic does not need to worry about stopping drinking forever, they only need to not drink for today. It’s a tool that alcoholics can use – especially as they deal with the allergy of craving – to remind themselves to set a small goal. But, sometimes it’s more restrictive than one day – this very moment might be the goal.
In fact, I once heard a woman speak during a meeting where she expressed that she would set a timer to assist her in dealing with the craving. She said she would set the timer for one minute increments and then when she was able to go more than a minute without the anxiety and craving to bother her, she would move the timer to five minutes, then 10 minutes, then 30 minutes, then an hour. She did this until she was able to set herself a goal to get through one day.
I have found this idea of one day at a time to be extremely valuable. I know that when I’m focused on it, it allows me the opportunity to “ignore” the craving on a day to day basis. I’ve done it before and I have observed in myself that when I stop living in the moment, stop living for just today, then all of the symptoms of the malady that exists in my mind come rushing back and eventually I have the fateful first drink (not having the first drink is another concept alcoholics focus on accomplishing).
Well, there is a reason I’m mentioning this. It might seem trivial, but it is something that works for me. As some of you know, I am on Twitter. I enjoy playing #HashtagGames; I’m not totally sure how it all works, but I jump in anyways. Today one of the games used the hashtag #ImStillHereBecause. Well, I completed the thought by saying, “I refuse to give up! 24 days sober!”. And I received quite a few supportive and encouraging comments from a wide variety of wonderful people!
The app I have to count my sobriety, called “Sober Time” indicated to me that I’m actually working on day 23. Odd…I could have sworn… Anyways, I had an instant thought that I needed to fix that transgression in my mind (You see, I obsess over a lot of things, not just alcohol) and quoted my original tweet saying it was actually 23 days I have been sober. And then, another thought hit me…
Does it really effing matter? Does it really matter if I have been sober 1 day of 4,155,150,120.4731 days? No, of course it doesn’t. Today is the only one that matters, and I need to focus on living for today. I need to remain sober for today. Today is my success, not yesterday, not tomorrow, just today! I am forcing these kinds of things into my head, because I recognize that I have not been successful in controlling my drinking and the only time I have had periods of sobriety over the past 10 or 12 years is when I have embraced some sort of spiritual endeavor – and AA has provided me that very thing when I have tried over the past few years. And as I think about it, another thing I have heard in AA meetings is hitting me upside the head:
“The further you are from the last drink, the closer you are to the next one.”
That phrase has so many connotations to it, I’m sure, but it stands out in my mind for two reasons. The obvious one is that the caution to alcoholics that they need to be aware that the dangerous first drink is just a choice away, after that, the power of choice disappears. It also says something else that I never caught before, but I do now. Because alcoholics will fail once they drink the first drink, it is a statement of fact for an alcoholic: Once that first drink is had, the next one is so much easier to drink. This is the essence of alcoholism – the dangerous first drink.
Anyways, these are just thoughts I’m having and anyone may see it differently, but it has me in a decent mood today. I am noticing all of the support I’m receiving, and I am so grateful for it all. I am trying to remain humble and in the moment today. But I also feel inspired to do a little more writing today…we’ll see what happens. 🙂 ❤
Day 23…or another day of sobriety.