A piece of advice often heard in 12-step programs is to learn to live “one day at a time.” Striving to live one day at a time has been said millions of times in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step rooms for over 75 years. Practicing this suggestion can be difficult, especially for people who want to stop drinking. But this principle is essential in recovering from alcoholism and addiction.
Thirty years ago I met a pioneer woman in the recovery movement, Geraldine O. Delaney, who helped me better understand this concept.
I first met Mrs. Delaney in 1986 at the Rutgers School for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. She was being honored for her achievements in recovery. She was a formidable figure! She walked with dignity and purpose with her head held high. She wore sensible shoes, dressed in a sedate suit, hair styled in a glorious, large gray bun atop her head. But appearances can be deceiving. She had a wicked sense of humor – especially when reminiscing about her active alcoholic days when she was “dancing on tables in gin mills.”
I was new in the field when we met and am forever grateful for the guidance and love she shared with me.
She wintered here in Naples for many years and was extremely active and vocal in the AA program. We became friends and she was my beloved mentor.
She taught me many life lessons, including how to live one day at a time. She advised me to live in “day-tight compartments.” This made sense to me. Living in day-tight compartments helps me avoid dwelling in the past, which can lead to thoughts of regrets and sadness. By staying in this day I don’t have to worry about a future that may or may not happen. Concern with what “might happen” tomorrow creates anxiety and fear. By living in today, I can appreciate what I have right now and learn to be grateful for all the gifts I have in today.
Gerry told me that some days we might have to live an hour at a time and perhaps even just a minute at a time to achieve a serene and happy life.
I am forever grateful for the gift of friendship with the most remarkable person I’ve known, Geraldine O. Delaney.