‘One day at a time’ is one of the most common phrases you will hear in the Recovery Community. When I first started out on this sobriety journey it was the thing I was told again and again by others to focus on – “Just get through today. Tomorrow can wait” or “One day at a time, it will get easier”.
I counted days and clung on to what had time I had banked. That first week, month and eventually year was a milestone I wore round my neck with pride and I would share it with anybody who would listen. My Blog that you are reading now was pretty much dedicated to the length of my sobriety and I would start each post with “Day xxx…”
When I relapsed on the 459th day of my Recovery I realised that counting days alone wasn’t going to keep me sober for the rest of my life and in fact I now had this weight pulling me down. Maybe it was embarrassment, guilt, anger or a combination of them all but whatever it was it was an awful feeling.
My initial thoughts were “I’ve wasted those 458 days” and “I have to go back to Day 1. What’s the point?”
I went to an AA meeting a few days after picking drink up again and admitted that I had drank after 15 months of abstinence. There were no well dones or reassuring me that I had done well to stay clean for so long and I was reminded that as an Alcoholic I only have today. Stay clean today. That didn’t sit right with me. Maybe I was looking for something more or maybe I wanted lots of reassuring that I was doing great and this was just a blip but this ‘one day at a time’ approach no longer resonated with me. I’d done this for 458 days (which I’m still proud of) but ultimately I had still drank alcohol again. I wanted to understand my relationship and connection with alcohol in more depth. I wanted to study my addiction and finally put an end to ever wanting to consume it again.
This might sound alien or ridiculous to some of you reading this and I don’t have a problem with you thinking this. I am me and you are you. My mind works the way it does and I can either fight it or embrace the way I am wired and find a way of overcoming my issues (such as alcohol) by using appropriate and relatable mechanisms and thought processes.
I’m a very analytical thinker (as I’ve been told many times since I was in school) so for me I need to map out things in my head and understand how I’m going to get from A to B. To be told to just stay sober today and not think about tomorrow was not really resonating with me and the more I thought about it, it never did. My first ‘stab’ at sobriety had lasted 458 days but I was doing that on will power alone and largely because my recovery started in an enforced way when I was sectioned and undertook a period of detoxing whilst I was treated for my mental health issues. I would have never started my abstinence from alcohol if I hadn’t ended up inside an institute. To be honest I’d probably be dead by now.
I’ve now found a programme that I connect with. Rational Recovery and using the ‘Addictive Voice Recognition Technique’ gives me control. I know that so long as I follow the principles involved with my ‘Big Plan’ I alone have agreed I will not drink alcohol again. Ever.
That in itself attracts a lot of negativity from others – particularly those who are invested in the ‘One day at a time’ way of thinking. What I will say to those people is this. Do you wish another person in recovery ongoing sobriety? I’d hope most people would say yes and if that is the case then surely it shouldn’t matter to you how I achieve this so long as it doesn’t impact you in a negative way?
It says more about human nature than anything else that I regularly have to justify and explain myself to other people in the recovery community how I plan to stay sober and quite often will be told how I’ll relapse. It tends to follow a theme…
I’m not here to bash AA but unfortunately the vast majority of negativity comes from individuals who are using AA as their recovery programme. I have no desire to spread hate and spiel about AA beyond my own personal experience which was relatively short lived. I know it’s a brilliant organisation for the many and so many people around the World have and continue to remain sober because of it. Whether you like hearing this or not though, AA doesn’t work for everybody and like the wider recovery landscape it has a high % of relapsers.
AA doesn’t work for everyone just like AVRT doesn’t work for everyone.
All I’ve ever said and will continue to say is that we should find the programme or ways of living that work for us – not anybody else. It isn’t about following the masses and trying to believe in or do something that isn’t true to ourselves.
So continue to count days, work your sobriety one day at a time or like me use Rational recovery or other alternative programmes. We all have that common goal and that is what we should never lose sight of. I wish you all well (even the haters!)
3 thoughts on “Not ‘One day At a time’”
When I first decided to go sober, I started with AA and counting days was one of the things that didn’t work for me at all. As I found my addictive voice going crazy wanting me to celebrate each day accomplished. And then when I read the AVRT book, I realized I was quitting for good, so it has no sense for me at all.
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I think you could replace AA and AVRT with almost anything and your blog would be the same. It seems that being a passionate supporter of anything where there is an alternative leads to the same negative response. My ones better than your one. It’s a shame.
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Aye you aren’t wrong Mark. It’s why I rarely open my mouth about politics