One of the issues that many people struggle with when they stop drinking is the concept of “forever” vs. understanding how to take things one day at a time. I know it was an issue for me. I was constantly negotiating with myself about how long I was going to stay sober, because the idea of not drinking “forever” seemed completely impossible. I would set my goal for two days, five days, a week, maaayyyybe a month, and in my most desperate times, a year. I would think, “If I can just take a year off alcohol, then everything will get back to normal.” The way I was thinking, it is absolutely no surprise that I never reached any of those goals.
Here’s the thing: Forever is a long time. Impossibly long. We are taught from a very young age that we must set goals and achieve them; that we must choose a mark and then hit that mark. But how exactly does one set a goal for “forever?” You don’t know how long “forever” even is. You could get hit by a bus today, or you could live to be 110. Who knows? Then there’s the issue of setting defined goals. I know it works for some people, but when I tried to put a number on my Alcohol Free days, all I was doing was setting myself up for failure. If I set my goal for one week Alcohol Free and then drank after three days, I failed. I felt bad about myself, beat myself up, and ultimately I just drank more to try to cope with the way I felt. That, or I’d make it five days and count that as “good enough,” which, again, just led to more drinking.
That’s why, for me, being Alcohol Free is not a goal, it is a way of life, and that is an entirely different thing.
When I stopped thinking, “I can never drink again,” and started thinking, “I will not drink today,” staying Alcohol-Free became much easier. It’s not a magic pill and I do still have tough days, but focusing on today and today only takes a huge amount of pressure off. Instead of feeling the weight of “forever” on my shoulders, I only feel the weight of today. Believe me, today by itself is a lot lighter than even “today and tomorrow.” There have actually been times when I’ve told myself, “Sure, you can drink tomorrow! You can drink as much as you want tomorrow!” Then tomorrow becomes today and all I have to focus on is, “I will not drink today.”
My son has a hard time with understanding this approach. At first he thought it meant that I was somehow giving myself permission to drink again at some undefined point in the future. I think he’s got the idea now, because he tells me sometimes, “I know that you can only promise you won’t drink today, but I really hope it’s forever.” My answer to that is always, “I feel the exact same way.”
One Day At a Time ( ODAAT ) explained :
The past doesn’t matter and the future isn’t promised to you, so there’s just the moment we’re in.
from ‘Transmetropolitan’ by Warren Ellis
Only today ( and tomorrow is today again) is and always will be my mantra!! During the first few weeks I repeatedly ‘promised’ the wine witch that I could drink ‘tomorrow’ just to get her to shut up!! I still freak out at the thought of ‘never’ drinking again or staying AF ‘forever’
That ties in though with my outlook on life in general- thoughts of forever or never freak me out! Does that make me a person who does not like commitments? I don’t think so! I just know that life is fleeting and the only time I have influence over is NOW. I set my intention for the day each morning – I make today my best day, I make today’s decision not to drink non- negotiable.
Staying sober One Day at a Time, really takes away the pressure from focusing on things in the future and concentrating on the here and now. Why stress over tomorrow when it is completely out of our hands? We can actually do something about today. Today I am alcohol free! Tomorrow can wait.
The future is made up of only one substance and that is the present moment. By taking care of the present, you are doing everything you can to assure a good future.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
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