One interesting side effect of going through hell is that is changes how you define success forever.
Measuring success in early sobriety was simple: get from one end of the day to the other without a drink. Simple, but not easy. Life in early sobriety, for me, was measured out it the smallest increments of time, sometimes just a minute or two. Without my anesthesia and chock full of bad feelings, I considered it a victory to get up, get dressed, and wait for the next minute to pass. I couldn't think about a whole day, not yet. By cautiously stepping from minute to minute I set an achievable goal, with the focus on reward and not punishment.
Lately, as I've been writing about, I've been feeling overwhelmed. There are practical reasons for this, of course, with practical solutions. But there is a deeper sentiment here, one I have to pay attention to or I could be in trouble. I've been getting hung up on the big picture, asking myself broad existential questions, like is this what my life is really all about? Is this what I want? Who do I want to be? Am I getting all I can out of life?
Sounds admirable, to a degree, pondering existence in the interest of living your best possible life, doesn't it?
I have been taught to keep it in the day. To keep my head where my feet are. That wasn't so hard to do in early recovery, when each sober moment felt like a victory. Overall, now, I feel good. I feel capable. When I get a little of something, I want more, more, more. But there isn't any such thing as more sober.
The other day I was all twisted up, angry, resentful, bored, stressed. My head was full of lofty ideas - what I wanted to do, all the dreams I have - and my feet felt tangled in the wires of everyday life. That night I went to a meeting. It is a meeting I love, the place where I first got sober, and I had a moment, a flash of insight: I remembered how I felt when I first dragged myself into this room.
It changed everything, immediately, and I thought: today is a good day. It doesn't matter what tomorrow brings, today is good.
I am an alcoholic who doesn't want to drink today. That is a successful day.