We are done with The Shawna years. I hope you enjoyed reading them, as I have enjoyed sharing these posts. This one is about sobriety and a philosophy that helped me get sober and stay sober.
I used to just really hate clichés. Like one day at a time, I used to think, like opposed to what? A year at a time? I just hate it when we say stuff that sounds cool but doesn’t really mean anything. It just seems so trite. I don’t like disingenuous statements. I realize this may mean one hundred different things to a hundred people but as long as it means something to you then that’s fine. Without knowing it I was applying this philosophy nearly two decades ago, early in my sobriety.
In my early twenties I really struggled to get sober. I had no concept of living the rest of my life sober. I just couldn’t fathom it. The thing I struggled with was coming to the conclusion that I was an alcoholic. I hadn’t experienced many of the things you associate with being an alcoholic. I wasn’t a gutter bum, I hadn’t been arrested, no DUI’s, then again I don’t drive. I didn’t repeatedly embarrass myself at family functions. I had a few puking on the toilet, dry heaving and oh god moments but maybe not as many as the other guys in the rooms. And I was young. A lot of the people in programs are much older. Another thing was all of the sayings, I had no idea what the hell people were talking about. As usual I needed an outlet for my frustrations and this seemed like a good one for me at the time.
After I got sober for the last time, at this point at least, I decided that being sober the rest of my life was just too big of a commitment. And I said to hell with being guilty. I can drink any damn time I want to drink, I decided. The key was not to want to drink. So when I was 24 my sober philosophy was this. Everyday I wake up I would make a decision to drink or not drink. I figured the problem with alcoholics is that we go to extremes, so I needed to get away from extreme thinking. I needed to readjust. Think small. And that philosophy has worked for me. I am now 47 and am just under 3 months shy of celebrating 23 years sober.
Personally, I just had to figure out for myself what one day at a time means, I have come up with my interpretation of many of the clichés that I have come across. Some may prefer this way and others may want to ask somebody, hey, what does this mean to you? But these cliches really do work for people so we shouldn’t just dismiss them. There is a meaning to them other than just sounding good. I had to be open-minded and realize that just because I may not understand something does not mean it lacks value. It simply means that I haven’t figured it out yet. We have to walk through life with some humility and put responsibility on ourselves. My advice is don’t try to take on too much all at once. Work on yourself, know what you are capable of, get strong spiritually and you will feel confident that whatever happens down the road you will have the strength and wisdom to handle it. The more days you make the decision to not drink the more likely it is that you will make the same decision the following day. As a friend of mine likes to tell me you will do today what you did yesterday.
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