As addicts and alcoholics, it is in our nature to want to avoid anything that is even remotely, possibly uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the world does not work that way. No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, there will always be times when things just do not work out how we would like them to. Here are some things to remember when those days happen.
First, emotions do not require action. Just because we feel something does not mean we have to do something—in fact, it is usually better that we don’t do anything. Reacting to something based purely on emotion rarely works out to our benefit, and often makes things worse. We say the wrong thing, we stoke the fires of resentment, we do things we otherwise would chastise others for doing if we weren’t in a state of discontent. All this because we don’t like how we feel at a given moment…
One of the best things my first sponsor taught me was, “If you aren’t going to remember this in ten years, why let it ruin your day today?” When I first got sober, everything was a big deal; everything was a calamity. The reality of it, though, was that I was the only person who saw it that way. Granted, like most addicts and alcoholics, there were a lot of genuinely big deals in my life when I first got here, but that didn’t mean that everything was a big deal, either.
Part of the beauty of the Fourth and Fifth Steps is that we get to see that many of the huge things we have blown up in our minds were really not that big once we shared them with someone else and had them written down in front of us. In reality, very few things are genuinely life changing and pivotal. When we finish sharing those things that burdened us for so long, we feel that weight being lifted off our shoulders (as clichéd and cheesy as that sounds), and only then realize just how constant and oppressive all that baggage was. Worse yet, it was all for nothing.
Everyone will have a bad day in recovery. At the end of the day, sobriety and clean-time can be broken down to one main objective: improve our quality of life and the lives of those around us. Many of us had been beaten down so hard and for so long that, really, we were content with just experiencing less pain.
Now that we have seen what a clean and sober life can give us, though, suddenly our thinking tells us that we should always be in a state of bliss, otherwise we are doing something wrong. That just isn’t true. Finding serenity is not being in a constant state of pleasantness—it is maintaining inner peace and calm when the world around us is anything but that.
That said, how have some of you dealt with a bad day in recovery? What happened, and what did (or didn’t) you do?