Living in the present is the key to overcoming your addiction…in fact it seems to be the secret to living a happy and fulfilled life. There are so many modern-day philosophers and spiritual teachers that advocate this way of life. The past is gone and there is nothing we can do to change it, rather we need to make peace with it and not dwell in the quagmires thereof. Making amends and asking for forgiveness of the people we have wronged is a wonderful thing to do in the early stages of recovery, but it is essential to that same recovery that we lay our previous lives to rest. There is no benefit to be found in beating ourselves up year after year over the things we did when we were trapped in the hell of addiction. Yes, we hurt people, especially those closest to us, but there is not one ounce of value to be found in flogging a dead horse so to speak. I made my amends with an honest, sincere heart and then I moved on. Of course there are times when the people in my life will recall instances of things that were said and done, but I chose not to get drawn back into that conversation. My heartfelt apologies were genuine and my continued sobriety my commitment to that apology.
Sometimes the toughest thing to do is forgive oneself… To sit quietly with yourself and take a little time to be sorry for what you have done to yourself. Take a moment to think of the opportunities you might have wasted, the chances that you probably let slip by, the relationship that could have been worth something if you weren’t completely cloaked in your addiction and say sorry – to you! But once this is a fait accompli and you’ve had your little self-pity party, for goodness sake let it go. And do this in any figurative or literal way that resonates with you. Go into the backyard and bury your pain in a box. Stand on the beach in front of the rolling waves and shout it to the oceanic expanses. Curl up on your favourite sofa with a box of tissues for the afternoon and weep. But then make a deal with yourself to put an end to the remorse and to stop being sorry! The past can never be taken back and “if” can sometimes be the longest word in the English dictionary. If only I hadn’t blah blah blah…you’re going to drive yourself demented!
And don’t fret about the future… Don’t obsess about whether you will still be sober in six days or six hours or even six minutes. Just hold onto the moment and appreciate that you are sober now. The idea of one day at a time can even be daunting at points during our recovery. The idea of making it to the end of the day can be overwhelming and scary, so just focus on the moment, because there is nothing else besides right now. Eckart Tolle is so spot on when he talks about this in his book, “The Power of Now” and there is so much power in now. There is nothing else… The past is memory and the future is anticipation and by embracing the very essence of now, we can find peace and serenity. I personally believe that all the great teachers and philosophers of of our time have battled to overcome some sort of addiction, because if you listen closely to their teachings you’ll see that there are so many proponents of just taking it one step at a time. The Tao Te Ching, believed to have been written in the 6th century BC, by Lao Tzu “The Old Master” contains the verse, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and could there ever have been a more accurate idea of how to conquer addiction!? All I have ever focused on during my journey through sobriety is the next step. This could be the next week, day, hour or minute depending on what is going on in my life at the time, but I never waiver in my commitment to that next step.
I cannot always account for the step after that, but that’s in the future. All that I can control is this moment right now. And in this moment I always chose not to pick up a drink. I’m not talking about anything here other than my addiction, because although I am dedicated to the present when it comes to abstaining, I cam not always that single-minded when it comes to other areas of my life. However, I still feel as though I am in the early stages of my recovery and that there are far more lessons to be learned along the way. I drank for 23 years, I have been sober for less than six. So perhaps I get upset when my work or personal life isn’t going exactly how I envisage it should, but when I can remind myself to come back into the moment like I do with my sobriety, everything feels more peaceful and tranquility ensues. I’ve mentioned a couple of great writers in my last few posts and I have found solace and comfort in their words, often picking up a book or switching on a podcast, and even though I am not in the place I left off, I am exactly where I need to be in that moment.
Maybe this sounds like pie-in-the-sky new age philosophy to you, but let me assure you that even though I am a crazy romantic, I am also grounded by a part of me that is incredibly practical and pragmatic. I don’t simply buy into ideas because they are the trend of the month. It took me a while to really start to read and understand what many of the books and ideas were really all about. And sometimes weeks will go by before I dip into a little Deepak Chopra or spend a few hours listening to Wayne Dyer, but their message is very similar to me. There is no benefit to be found in reliving the past over and over again (especially if it painful and dark) and we cannot predict the next minute in our life with any certainty. The true joy in life is to be found in this moment, the one that is happening right now, and believe me that it’s easy to be sober in this moment. If you think too far down the line then the uncertainty becomes overwhelming and oppressive, so all I am advocating is take a deep breath, feel your body and be in this moment, the one you are in right now and the next one will be there when you get there.
‘Til next time
This post was inspired by a very dear friend of mine’s brother, who I don’t know and have never met…but who I hope finds a little strength and comfort in the words.