One day at a time. #adaat. It’s a saying, a statement, a concept that I haven’t deeply explored during my sobriety. I initially took it at face value, connecting it to the idea of ‘keep it simple’. I just have to be sober a day at a time and if this means reciting the Serenity Prayer over and over or going to as many meetings as I can or working my program to the best of my ability then so be it. As my recovery from alcoholism has matured, so has my understanding of what it means to live ‘one day at a time’.
I was attracted to the recognition and celebratory atmosphere enjoyed by all when a member of the Fellowship achieves a full year of sobriety. Receiving a ‘birthday’ card with everybody’s best wishes after sharing your experience, strength & hope is totally juxtaposed with first approaching the AA rooms. The feeling of belonging, support and validation as a worthy human being in that moment is so good. The cresendo leading up to a sobriety birthday is in contrast to what it is to live in recovery ‘one day at a time’.
For some, the goal of reaching a year of sobriety eclipses the whole significance of recovery from alcoholism. I have witnessed this blinkered view amount to relapse as the person hasn’t got a goal to reach for after 365 days of sobriety. They have forgotten or dismissed the well known expression of ‘one day at a time’.
Personally I succumbed to relapse after 18 months of sobriety despite attending regular meetings. My suspiciousness was a barrier to being gifted with telephone numbers to contact other alcoholics in times of doubt, insecurity and craving. I convinced myself meetings were enough and I didn’t have to engage or contribute. I didn’t know that the only way we can keep it is by giving it away. Sharing back at meetings and having a service position are essential components of recovery as they enable us to be selfless rather than selfish. Being so withdrawn and weary of the world I tentatively learned the hard way. Per haps if I had mentioned my sobriety birthday I would’ve been able to establish the connections I needed to be sponsored and do the Steps. I wanted to avoid relapse due to being motiveless after a year of sobriety, however I did relapse at 18 months because of fear, reluctance and no defense against the first drink. I was worrying about what might happen in the future and not concentrating on ‘one day at a time’.
There’s a humility in the expressive tone of old timers whom frequent the rooms of AA. Some know their sobriety date after decades of recovery, some didn’t have one to begin with and others have even forgotten it altogether. They chuckle whilst people like myself get a furrowed brow of confusion and wonder as to how they can remain so jolly instead of searching their memories to recapture the elusive date. I was taught in AA that I am equal to the old timer with decades of sobriety. This humbled me as I held these people in very high regard and simultaneously doubted how I could ever live without drinking as they did. The reality is that regardless of time served in recovery from alcoholism the diseases is latent; waiting to reactivate, progressively worsen and annihilate us, unless we embrace recovery and live ‘one day at a time’.