Dear Mr. SponsorPants,
I'm going to count on the whole No Stupid Questions thing in writing to you with this.
I feel like I don't get One Day at a Time. Do I not make plans? Do I not think about my future? How can I do that?
I am new to being clean and to AA. My older brother died of his addiction and I want to make a good start because my parents only have one kid left (me).
Dear Really Willing,
I am sorry for your loss. Addiction is a terminal illness, and with all the lightheartedness (or foolishness) in meetings -- and my own goofing around and wisecracking here on the blog -- the fact is, that reality is never very far offstage. But what I have experienced via AA's 12 Steps is literally a daily reprieve from the inexorable fatal progress of true addiction. I believe that reprieve is available to any addict who is able to be honest with themselves and who truly wants it.
But because this is, as the Big Book puts it "a fatal malady," you're right, there really and truly ARE no stupid questions when it comes to figuring out how to apply all the 12 Step slogans, the many suggestions and AA's spiritual tools to our recovery and our lives.
And seriously, I get it. I get your question.
Sometimes I can wrap my head around an idea a little more easily when I take a look at what it isn't.
One Day at a Time does not mean that you only go Christmas shopping on Christmas day. It doesn't mean that you wait till April 15th to do your taxes. (I have actually tried that -- for other reasons than ODAT -- **coughprocrastinationcough** -- and I really do not recommend it.) In fact there was a comment recently here on the blog, on the post regarding 90 meetings in 90 days, suggesting that the commenter didn't feel that the 90 in 90 suggestion lined up with ODAT. While I somewhat see their viewpoint, and don't completely disagree with that interpretation, that's ultimately not how I see it.
(Seems like this is a good place to once again remind anyone reading that I'm just a middle aged sober alcoholic with a blog. I've got some real mileage now on my soberdometer but I do not speak for anyone -- least of all AA. I share only what I have learned, what I believe, and what has worked for me.)
One Day at a Time is partially about focus. Let's pretend you're getting married on October 10th. (Why Oct. 10th? 10/10. Easy to remember so you don't get in trouble forgetting your anniversary with your newly wedded beloved when you're not so newly wedded.) So you're getting married in roughly seven months, and you start to feel overwhelmed about the Big Day. But you stop yourself from ramping up to full on melt down and remember One Day at a Time. Today you're picking out center pieces. You're not walking down the aisle today. You're not making a toast today. You're not figuring out the seating chart today. Those things are on other days. Today you are picking out center pieces.
So one way I live One Day at a Time is that I do today's task. I keep my mind on today's business, even though it may be related to a larger Something in my future.
There are many ways of interpreting AA's slogans. They are simple enough so that we can remember them when we're starting to freak out, but flexible enough to apply to a number of people and situations.
First things First.
Easy Does It.
Easy Does it (but Do It!)
Just for Today.
One Day at a Time.
And many others. I invite anyone who has some helpful experience on the topic to chime in in the Comments Section below.
Hope that was helpful, R.W. Congratulations on your sobriety -- if you are indeed Really Willing you will do just fine.