Staying in Today is Key to Sobriety & Change

24 Hours is all I want to handle. I can’t change the past and I have no guarantee of tomorrow. I can’t think of a simpler perspective yet it’s hard to maintain. Yesterday’s mistakes become today’s shame and tomorrows possibilities turn into today’s fears. All time truly does is go by.

“Time, as I’ve seen it, doesn’t take much time to pass me by.” – John Denver

He tells me about his “track record” – he’s predicting his future based on his past. If he changes nothing, this is a completely reasonable expectation. If he makes changes he has allow himself hope that doing things differently will result in a better outcome. “Yeah, every time I get clean I do good for a while and then I just end back where I started.”

Addicts & alcoholics love euphemisms. Rarely do people simply tell me they got drunk or high. They f@cked up, screwed up, slipped up or messed up, Everything that brings us down is something we did up. Accountability is always key. It’s not all that important to me why a person chose to relapse. It’s important to focus on what we need to do differently to prevent doing it again.

Beating the hell out of ourselves is always optional. Many of us feel a need to punish ourselves for our mistakes. This just becomes part of the pattern. We do good, we get scared/hurt/disappointed or otherwise a mess emotionally and we self destruct because it’s the quickest and easiest way to take back the illusion of control. We shoot ourselves in the foot because we’re afraid to ask for help and ashamed to admit when we have no idea what the hell we’re doing.

We’re defensive people. Folks point out to me frequently that, “I can’t just change how I feel!” I agree and suggest it’s better to change our behavior. When we are locked into patterns that are unhealthy, our emotions are somewhat irrelevant. Everything we do in self destructive patterns perpetuates feeling the way we do. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

“So what the hell am I supposed to do?” These words are yelled at me frequently and I tend to throw fuel on the fire. How about doing anything in the world other than the stuff that has been proven time and again to not work?

Our fears determine what is possible for us. I encourage people to make just one change – don’t be afraid alone. Whatever we’re going through will be easier if we share the load. Our fears would have us believe that we are a burden/imposition on others. This is simply not the case. Truth is it feels good to help folks we care about. Most of us are very good at giving and we suck at receiving because to receive is to be vulnerable.

We claim that we need answers but we’re not entirely sure what the questions are. I’d love to have a dollar for every person whose told me, “I just need some time alone to think.” I laugh and tell them to treat their head like a bad neighborhood and not go in there alone. “Thinking” is what we do when we already know the answers and we hate/fear them. When we tire of this we go looking for people who will  tell us what we want to hear and to buy into our bullshit that somehow this is all very complicated.

For the addict and alcoholic, “confusion” = fear. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do = I don’t want to be accountable. Encouraging us to do the right thing and reach out results in us telling you, “I know. I know. I know.” I heard it said recently that this is the “mating call of the moron.” Hysterical, but there’s some truth in there.

Our diseases and f@ckedupedness are not a product of what we know. They are a product of what we do, what we believe, and what we cannot bring ourselves to accept.  I’m very fond of the expression, “You cannot think your way into a new way of living. You have to live your way into a new way of thinking.”

Keep it simple. That thing that is killing you and/or making it miserable…can you NOT do that for just the next 24 hours? Bet ya can. If you truly can’t find something better to do with your day, ask one person for help and then go help someone else who really needs it. The world is full of folks who are up to their ass in alligators.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.