When we first start our journey in a twelve step program we are told a whole lot of things. There’s a whole new language of recovery that is very foreign to us: steps, traditions, sponsors, slips and promises are but a few of the terms that have whole new meanings in the program. I was having trouble concentrating on what was happening around me at a meeting; a lot of what was said passed way over my head. The residual effects of the chemicals in my brain probably didn’t help. However, I latched onto the slogans. Here were short sound-bites that I could grasp and understand. This one, ‘Live one day at a time,’ or ‘Take it one day at a time,’ was probably the first that I could grasp onto.
When I started my journey, I had been living my life either as a remorseful mess because of what I had or should have done yesterday, or I was on the other end of the spectrum, fearful of what might happen to me tomorrow. To be honest, when I first came in I didn’t have any desire to quit. I just wanted to be taught how to control myself. I wanted to get my head straightened out so I could be the gentleman I was sure I was. I wanted to be the guy who could have a glass of wine with dinner or share one joint with friends. I wanted to step down the crazy a notch or two and go back to normal. I couldn’t see my life without artifical stimulation or relaxation. Those who had greeted me those early weeks told me to take it easy, and just live one day at a time. My only job, the only one that mattered at that time was to make it through the day sober. Tomorrow was another day I was told. Concentrate on today.
Live one day at a time. Live. I hadn’t been living. I had been existing, doing the minimum to survive. I woke up in a fog, piecing together the details of the night before. Somehow I would make it through the day, waiting, longing for the cocktail hour or until I had finished work before starting the insanity one more time. I was worried about having enough money to pay for it all. I was all about hiding who I was because I believed that no one else really knew about my problem. Living? No, that wasn’t living and although I couldn’t have admitted that to myself at the time, deep down I knew it too.
Being in the present, in the moment is a new way of living for me. There is always more than enough to keep my mind occupied today. What happened yesterday is done. I can cry and scream and explain myself blue, and nothing about yesterday will change. However, I was told I could change my perspective. I can learn from my past and be mindful in the present not to do the same thing today. All of my regrets and mea culpas for all the days I screwed up in the past do not change them and, more than likely, will screw up today was well.
“Man makes plans and God laughs.” Living in the present doesn’t mean that I don’t make plans. I do make plans but I don’t live in them. The future is there, but I try not to focus too much on it. There are too many people, too many variables involved that are beyond my control and that might alter what I am planning. So I plan loosely. I bought a plane ticket a month ago with the plan to spend some time with my family. I truly hope that it will happen, but so many things may happen between now and then that could alter those plans. If I’m living in the future, that change could upset me a great deal. I try to relax and roll with whatever the future brings me, trusting that my Higher Power has my back.
We call the present ‘present’ because it is a gift. It is my gift to open each morning of everyday. I choose to focus on today. Today I give thanks for being alive and sober. Today I am going to live. I am going to be present, here and now and accept with love the blessings and challenges that come my way. I live today for today and tomorrow I leave for tomorrow. Choosing to live one day at a time simplifies my life and my spirit. I am grateful.
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