I am going to let you in on a secret: Not all days I have been sober have been happy, fun and life-affirming. In sobriety, I have been through the deaths of family and friends, relationship breakup, loss of a job, toxic work environments and so much more!
It wasn’t all bad though! My sober time gave me some of the best moments of my life! As a hard-core alcoholic, I took both the bad times and the good as reasons to tie one on! rarely did I let an opportunity to have a drink pass me by! I needed to smooth my feeling over with a glass of bourbon or a beer or twelve!
Over the years, I developed a method to meet each one of these challenging situations that normally would have had me at the bar. Each time I felt like I was close to taking a drink, I gave myself permission to have a drink “tomorrow” if I still felt like it. Today, I would stay sober.
Yes, this is absolutely a cheesy play on words to “trick” myself. The thing is, tomorrow becomes today in a few hours. Unless you have some sort of time machine, you will never live in tomorrow – always today.
The World Looks Better After a Good Night’s Sleep.
Life gets better after a good night’s sleep, regardless of the situation. The world may not have changed, but I did. Whatever was bothering me was still there, but the light of a new day always makes it all seem bearable.
One Day at a Time
Of course, staying sober is not a lifelong commitment. As you hear in Alcoholics Anonymous, you only have to stay sober today. One 24 hour period at a time is all it takes.
As the bottle of shampoo says, “wash, rinse, repeat as needed”. My sobriety is (so far) never ending chain of one day at a time. Sometimes, I found it necessary to shorten that time frame to, “I won’t drink this hour… “.
Long term sobriety is not about will power. To stay sober over the long run, you have to learn a new approach to living life on life’s terms. Meeting those challenges with a solid inventory, prayer / meditation and a talk with your sponsor is the best way to keep on the path of recovery.
This Too Shall Pass
That said, there are times in EVERY recovering addict/alcoholic’s sober journey that are ONLY achieved through will power. Don’t think your program is less because you come to a place for which you have no defense.
Lying awake, staring at the ceiling, and promising yourself that you will not drink today has been a part of the path for every person I have ever met in the Program (and I have met a LOT of people). Give yourself a mental break and allow yourself the out: “I’ll have a drink tomorrow, but I won’t do it today.”
The old AA/NA adages are there for a reason: They are true. Whatever it is you are going through will resolve itself exactly like it was supposed to without your “help”. The words on the walls at almost every meeting are etched in my mind, “This too, shall pass.”
It has worked for me for 27 years, I hope it helps you too!