When people are really ready for change, sometimes you hear them say, â€œI will do anything!â€ I hear it with addicts all the time. It usually comes right after a beat down or right before real change takes place. The feeling of not being able to go on as things are, gives way to a willingness and openness we didnâ€™t have the day before. â€œIâ€™ll do anythingâ€ is a strong statement. We believe it when we say it, we believe it when we hear it.
The problem I see, and why folks relapse, is that when we say, â€œIâ€™ll do anything,” we are looking for a change in how we feel at that moment. We rarely think through the reality of having to do â€œanythingâ€ again and again and again and again.
We become willing and in our imagination, we think, Iâ€™m willing to go to a meeting, Iâ€™ll tell someone my secrets, and change my thinking. I can do different. It isnâ€™t until we start to feel better that we forget the â€˜Iâ€™ll do anythingâ€™ promise, and find ourselves saying, I donâ€™t really feel like doing thatâ€¦ again today.
Iâ€™m thinking of this today, because Iâ€™ve been asked to speak for someone who is celebrating three years of sobriety tonight. And Iâ€™m thinking back to three years as one of the hardest places to be in sobriety. One year is amazing, everyone cheers you. 30 years is incredible as in a way, youâ€™ve figured out how to live without booze. But, three years, while totally worth it, is a bit of a grind on the road.
The routine of sobriety, the reality of living sober can become stale.
At three years, you find you can do it. Youâ€™ve had the experience of staying sober when you wanted to drink, you made it through the holidays before. Chances are someone you loved died in the last three years and you did the next right thing, you made it. Good things happened too, relationships healed, health returned, you got a promotion or an award and still didn’t drink. At three years you have pretty well experienced all the traumas, dramas, joys and celebrations to be had and will have at various levels of life. You know how to stay sober. You know what to do when you get that itchy and scratchy feeling. Youâ€™ve done it for three years and thenâ€¦
Reality sets in. This is it. This is what you do, who you are. You are no longer a new comer. You are not an old timer either. Attention and help of others turn away from you. You become one of many: a man among men, a friend among friends. The changes you made on a daily basis, may seem boring today. Same ole, same ole. You havenâ€™t missedÂ meeting, you make the phone calls, work the steps, make and keep commitments, you have a new routine, new friends and hangouts. You are sober.
But, addicts love the highs and lows of life; the all or nothings. That, Iâ€™ll do anything has become a routine that works. And usually at three years we wake up and some of us say, â€œIâ€™d like to do anything â€¦ else.â€
The difference between tedium and rhythm is actually rather subtle. Repetition, sameness, routine, rut, practice. The energy with which we approach daily routine can be mundane or interesting. Tedium lacks energy, may even drain you. Rhythm puts a little dance in you.
At three years it is really important to find the rhythm in the daily routine that works.
I salute my brothers and sisters in sobriety. I encourage you to keep on keeping on and keep on. Embrace the rhythm, because in sobriety, we truly can do anything!