The statement that can yank me from mental chaos to calm contains five simple words. They are, one day at a time.
Don’t be fooled. Things weren’t always that way for me.
For the majority of my life, if something when awry or scared me, the last thing I thought would help was time. Instead, I did whatever necessary for immediate change. I had no desire for the sit back and wait idea. Regardless of possible consequences, if there was a problem, I fixed that problem, and moved on. I couldn’t run the risk that what I feared could happen, would happen.
That came to halt when the emotional after effects of what I hope was my last drink of alcohol hit me like a hurricane. Fear, sadness, guilt, shame, remorse, and lack of control swept me up and tossed me around like an upended snow globe. I crawled my way to rooms where sobriety wisdom filled the air. Surely they had the quick-fix solution for my emotional pain. Each person I asked smiled and suggested I keep my focus only on how to not drink that day. That seemed absurd. How could I possibly get through a whole day with those hand wringing, heart-racing, tissue-deep feelings without the relief I knew a glass of my addiction would ease? Yet I made a silent commitment that I would attempt anything to end my relationship with booze.
I tried what I then doubted, and love what still works.
As time went on, that need for that one-day-at-a-time concept showed up more and more often. I heard those words when I questioned that never-again idea about a future glass of wine or the occasional mixed drink. Back then, I could not fathom a birthday, a wedding, or any other celebratory event without a drink.
Although I did my best to conceal the shudder of my shoulders, the wise woman who knows me better than I know myself provided a bit more intel about this one day at a time notion. She explained that how I feel one day may not be how I feel forever. My ability to handle forthcoming situations would change as I work to better understand myself one day at a time.
I did the work which then felt impossible, and love how the knowledge works for me.
Then came the challenge to understand why three meals and two snacks a day made sense. That’s when people wiser than me suggested a few words to enhance that one-day-at-a-time concept. They suggested I focus my attention on one meal at a time,
Armed with what I knew worked and what I hoped would, I reconstructed my one day at a time mantra to include the words, one meal at a time. That alone got me through some very dark days.
Yet, life goes on and things show up. On the surface, some appear almost too much to bear. A situation may arise that pings the memory of how a glass of wine quenched my fears or a skipped a meal fueled a need to control my imperfections. That’s why I need more than a one day or one meal at a time reminder.
For example, a few weeks ago, I sat in silence among hundreds of people inside a church I know well. Each time, a celebration of one’s life filled with words they don’t hear but we do. On that particular day, my gaze was set on a woman left alone in the first pew. She sat upright with grace hoping the beautiful blue dress worn would mask her weary, emotionally drained body. Soon the young children she shared with her husband that we were there to honor would sit beside her once their pallbearer duties ended.
When I passed a tissue to the person next to me, she tearfully asked how anyone could possibly deal with the loss of a spouse so young. I responded with words that seem attached to my every exhale. I whispered, “I suppose one day at a time, maybe even one breath at a time.”
That’s how I roll these days; one day, one moment, one breath at a time. This is my life line when everything starts to feel like too much.
Once offered as an idea to shift my focus from too much alcohol and not enough food, the meaning behind this one day at time concept not only saved me from two near-death addictions, the words now save me from myself.
A Moment to Breathe
We all see the one day at a time quote on plaques, paper weights, and notecards, yet have you ever breathed in the true intention behind the phrase? Have you considered the value of that when worry takes over or anxiety is through the roof? Maybe your thoughts live in days ahead rather than where your feet are. Take a deep breath, look around, and ground yourself in the right now not in the what if. Focusing on one day, one moment, one breath at a time is how you could get from where you are to where your next right step is needed. I hope you can relate to some of this. If so, please comment below or share via your preferred social media site.