The idea, when first suggested to me, of giving up my problems to a higher power – seemed crazy. It seemed like another opportunity for me to question the already unsteady faith I was trying to figure out. How could I take the things that I worried about most, and “hand them over” to some spiritual power that I didn’t even understand?
Today, that perspective seems to be less often and more far between but I still doubt. I am still unsure. I take back my will, my control and my desire to be the conductor of my life multiple times throughout the day – often for days at a time. Then I come to a stand still – sometimes I hit a brick wall. A few days ago I was getting ready for work and I started to feel the bubbling of panic and anxiety. I was getting ready to leave the house and the feelings, although unprompted, were growing. I couldn’t calm myself, I couldn’t quiet my thoughts. The more I tried to focus on the task in front of me, the more overcome I felt. I got into my car, my thoughts blaring and shaking my bones. I felt completely, absolutely unhinged. So, I prayed. Out loud, I repeated the serenity prayer –
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”.
I didn’t think about the words or what they meant. I didn’t question who I was asking for help. I didn’t doubt the effectiveness of prayer. I was desperate – I just kept praying. And you know what? After some time, my breathing slowed. My head stopped spinning. My feet were back on the ground, and I continued to pray.
Maybe it doesn’t work like that for you. Hell, it doesn’t work like that for me every time, or even most of the time. All I know, looking back at those moments, is that whatever I was doing up until that moment of anxiety wasn’t working for me. I had been stressing about things beyond my control, making selfish and self-serving decisions and hadn’t been connected to my program for a few days. When I get away from the awareness of my disease, when I disconnect from the spirituality that keeps me sober every day – I get into trouble. I can’t anticipate what tomorrow will bring, I don’t have any control over that either and when I get anxious, that’s usually what I’m worrying about.
One day at a time got me through my first few days of sobriety. One day at a time gets me through each day, still. My first weeks, my first months of sobriety, today’s sobriety – they were all a single day at a time. Often, it was moments that I took at a time. I couldn’t commit to staying sober for longer than a couple of minutes in the beginning and thankfully, those around me told me that I didn’t need to.
I just had to do the next right thing. This idea really makes things seem manageable for me – it makes sobriety seem doable and life seem possible, without the overwhelming anxiety and fear.
As I begin to start some work on the weight that I’ve been carrying around for the last ten years of my drinking, mostly in the form of fear, selfishness and self-pity, I have to keep reminding myself that all I have to handle is today.
Anyone can fight the battle for just one day.