“Do the right thing, and then do the next right thing,
and that will lead you to the next right thing after that.”
– Michael J. Fox
The whole notion of a “Day at a Time” is sometimes bigger than I’m able to digest.
These last 9 days I’ve been more of a “Moment at a Time” sort of guy, trying my best to be mindful of my cravings, aware of the false truths I’m telling myself that just one drink will help me relax, or that I deserve a “reward” for doing so well this week.
That a drink will make me feel even better than I’m feeling at this moment.
Who am I kidding.
That one drink would turn into ten, then three bottles of wine, then four.
I keep having to ask myself – How well did things go the last time I tried to have “just one drink”?
It’s 6am, and I’d be lying if I told you drinking hasn’t already crossed my mind 20 times since I woke up at 4:30. I’ve never drank at this hour of day – but it doesn’t stop the wine from whispering in my ear from the moment I wake up, it’s sour breath thick with tannins and lies, keeping my head in a cloud of cravings.
I made it 96 days sober last year, after a month at a recovery clinic – so I know these cravings get quieter, but they never truly go away. It’s a voice I’m going to have to learn how to parent, reminding it every time that the candy it’s begging for will rot its teeth out.
That the sweet will only bring sour.
So how do I do this? It feels as though I have Hitler in one ear, feeding me propaganda over and over, while Oprah’s in the other telling me to breathe, and that I’ve got this. The dichotomy of this disease has the ability and strength to make a man go mad.
Until, that is, you take it’s strength away.
And where does it get it’s strength?
From promising you the future.
A perfect world, with all your problems washed away (for the time being, at least). Sweet, intoxicating, temporary ignorance. The absence of pain and the illusion of pleasure.
Just Drink Me. I’ll make you feel so much better.
I think it’s fair to say no one has ever found comfort in the uncertain, uncontrollable future. Or the past, for argument’s sake. The only true comfort you can have is taking control and being here in the present moment.
And if we can do that, we take the craving’s power away. We can silence the lies, by mastering this moment. How long do you think a pusher will keep pushing, to get you to buy their drugs? Eventually they’ll give up and go away…right?
Just keep doing the next right thing.
Over, and over and over again.
As many times as you need to, to get through to the next moment, “surfing the urge” until the tide pulls back and your feet are on the ground again.
It was my last day in rehab, March 21, 2017.
We went for a walk on the beach; the ocean, for a change, louder than the Nazi in my ear.
And I drew this in the sand, because I learned that the only way I could beat this beast, was to simply Be Happy Now.
It’s time, again, to stop buying into the sugary promises of a less painful future. To stop listening to the voice telling me that a drink will make the next moment better than this one. That what I have right now isn’t quite good enough.
I listened to my own advice for 66 more days, until the voice came back louder and stronger, and with a brand new sales pitch.
I bought into it.
And here I am today, starting over again but winning at 9 Days sober.
But what I did, when shit got real again and the shameful pile of empty wine bottles and self sabotage grew too tall, is the next right thing.
The fact that I started drinking again last year after rehab doesn’t matter – it’s the unchangeable past.
The fact that the voice is back and screaming “Drink Me!” with deceitful promises of how much better I’ll feel if I do, doesn’t matter – it’s the uncontrollable future.
What does matter is the fact that I can, at this very moment, choose to listen to what the little Nazi in my ear is actually saying, acknowledge it, and confidently say “I don’t believe you anymore.”
It’s the only thing I can do in this absolutely controllable present moment.
It’s time to Be Happy Now.
Just keep doing the Next Right Thing.