One day at a time…

That’s what was said to me in the beginning, “Just take one day at a time.” It made sense. I mean the future was bleak. The past was broken. So taking each day as it comes made sense. The advice was a great gift. It allowed me to focus on the important things. The twenty-four hours in the day was the line in the sand. I would think that I just need to get through today without drinking. I did. It worked. It was so effective that I lost count of the amount of days I have gone without drinking.

I also lost the use of keeping it in the day. My anxious determination got the better of me. “Now what?” I would say. “Now drinking isn’t my issue. Now, what do I do?” The answer from people was often the same “just keep it in the day.” My reply “What? Forever?” It seemed like every day would be the same. Just another struggle against alcoholism. Another day of handing problems over to a higher power whilst decrying my human emotions. It seemed so… boring. I’ll be honest. Quitting drinking for quitting drinking sake was never enough. I needed a reason. I needed to find a goal and break it down. I needed to ask the question “I only have one day. What can I do today to push me towards that goal?” Not drinking was the foundation. Monetary stability was a big help. Health is the most important. So to keep my health I have not to drink. By not drinking I can work to save money. This way I am keeping it in the day but for a reason. I am working towards something. I have used this method to study. To pay off debt. To lose weight. I take the problem and break it down. Usually not drinking is the first thing. Not because of disease but because not drinking makes achieving my other goals easier. By not drinking it is easier to become the best version of myself. Life-fighting to hide an addiction is hard. Life with a hangover a hard. Life fighting disease can be hard. By focusing on the route I am present.

Drinking made me the worst version of myself. Plus I had to work twice as hard to get anywhere because I usually had a hangover.

Living life as a functioning alcoholic was like tying my own shoe laces together before running a race!

I had to adapt keeping it in the day to suit my own outlook and journey. I’m not just trying to repeat every day. I am seeing the day as an opportunity for progress. One step of twenty fours hours towards whatever it is I have in mind at that time. If I don’t manage it that day then I try again tomorrow. There is no failure. Only progress. There is ALWAYS something I can be doing.

I waste time. A lot of time. Doing nothing. Not even as entertaining as nothing. Scrolling through my phone takes up a huge amount of time. It’s as if somewhere on Instagram there is an answer to a question. I just have to keep searching until I find it. I am often left unfulfilled by this quest and am left with the resentment that I have been wasting time scrolling through products I don’t need. The resentment is offset though if I have done something that day. Writing, practising music or exercising. Whatever I see as getting towards that goal. As long as I’ve done that I feel better.

The “One day at a time” (ODAAT) approach was explained to me that there are twenty-four hours in the day. Each day is a battle against the disease of alcoholism. The object of the mission was to get through the day without drinking. That was it. I mean it is a bit of a shit mindset to approach every day with. A paranoid outlook that there is some ominous thing plotting your demise every day. It is almost the teachings of a religious fanatic who believes the Devil is trying to get you to the dark side. 

I couldn’t see life like this. There is opportunity everywhere. I just have to put the steps in place to make it happen.

It was of use in the early days. In the first few weeks when drinking is still the focus of the mind but not drinking is the intention. When alcohol adverts seem to spill out from every billboard and poster. Eventually, though this feeling fades. Addiction or temptation becomes lessened. We are left with time and not much confidence. Or I was at least. What was I to do? Sit in a stare at the walls until eventually my yearning for escapism became too overwhelming to ignore? Or try to do something? Dare to fail? Dare to grow?

Of course, it is scary venturing into the unknown but that’s how growth happens. It is easy to continue doing the same thing over and over but don’t be disappointed when the outcome is the same. It’s nice sitting in a boat at the shore but it’s a lot more fun in the open water. I had to take a chance. Life is overwhelming when looked at in its entirety. It looks unmanageable. Unfathomable. Daunting. It’s easy to want to escape its insanity. In fact, it’s actively encouraged to escape in our culture but it’s also possible to look at life differently. To break the perceived unachievable into smaller chunks and to chip away.

Take the past for example. I dragged the weight of my drinking life around with me. I thought it was my burden. The misery it caused to me was what I deserved for the misery I had caused others. BULLSHIT. I started to put it right the best I could. Fuck it was scary. Yes, I had some help. But boy was it liberating. Did it happen over a weekend? No! It took time. Breaking it down a bit at a time like kindling and burning it. Turning it to smoke. Lightening the load.

I am just a man passing through. Just wandering and wondering. Trying to share a tale of motivation and inspiration. Just hoping that people realise the shit we worry about today will likely be nothing in a year. Most of the problems that seem scary can be broken down into smaller parts. Manageable parts. It may not seem like progress but a large amount of small things equals a large thing. Small amounts of change over a long enough period result in change. Don’t focus on the outcome. Focus on how you can get there. How you can navigate the ship of life through the rocky waters? Eventually you will be through to the other side.

So in the morning, think what can I do today to get to where I want to be. What small thing would push me towards my goal? Not drinking is the foundation. But what can be built on that?

Eventually, one day at a time, who knows what you will end up achieving?

Charlie.

Photo by bex Callaghan from Pexels

2 thoughts on “One day at a time…

  1. Thanks Charlie. I am ‘in limbo’ right now and finding that hard. Relaxing is tricky when you cant switch off from ‘what next’ and ‘what now’. I’m starting to wonder if sobriety is still the right path to take. I think it is but I find myself wavering. I’m stuck and tired of feeling that way. I guess one step at a time applies more than ever! Claire x

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  2. “Sobriety” has so many connotations and pressure. Basically, is life better/easier by not drinking? I find it is personally. I too am a bit I limbo. Probably due to the uncertainty caused by the lockdown/COVID. All I can do is; plan and try. I can point the ship but I can’t control what’s in the water. Not drinking enables me to deal with the unknowns when they arise 🙂

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