Until I was in my mid-40’s, I believed I could control things in my life. I believed that if I did THIS, then THAT would happen. I believed that if I cared for someone with all-consuming love, then surely they felt the same way about me. I believed that my life was what it was because I had worked hard, I had chosen well, and it was going to continue the way it was forever – maybe with a few bumps in the road here and there – but forever. It took me 44 years of living to realize this wasn’t true. Late to the party, of course, but at least I arrived.
While I was learning this, I investigated new ways of seeing the world and functioning in it. One of the things I did was quit drinking alcohol. I’ve written about this before, but to recap: I was never dependent on alcohol, and I’m not sure I am an alcoholic. What I DO know is that I drank way too much way too often, and that wasn’t healthy or effective, so I quit. When drinking takes up a significant amount of your social life, the people you socialize with notice. Most everyone I know who I drank with accepted it and supported my decision. A few of my hardcore drinking buddies vanished from my life – which was fine with me. One question I was asked – and am still asked from time to time – was “Do you think you’ll ever drink again?”
Now I went to a few AA meetings during the early days of my sobriety (they weren’t for me), and I learned about the day-by-day way of looking at things. I found that useful, and forgiving, and self-loving. So I adopted my own version, and I started telling myself, “I don’t drink today, and I probably won’t drink tomorrow.” I found great inner peace from seeing things that way because when the next day came, I told myself the same thing: I don’t drink today, and I probably won’t drink tomorrow.
Turns out, this is a great mantra for just about anything since all we can really control is what we do today and probably tomorrow.
For example, a friend of mine was recently inquiring about the status of my romantic relationship. She was wondering if my boyfriend and I ever talk about moving in together or getting married. This is a fair inquiry because we’ve been together for a while, and anyone who has met him and seen us together can tell how much we care about one another. (And also, our society places a premium on the romantic relationship as the be-all, end-all of personal success, but that’s a post for another day.) So I thought for a moment, and I shared with her that yes, we have talked about those things, but that we have both been there with others and been significantly wounded by their treatment of us. While we have healed the best we can and have chosen to open our hearts to each other despite our pasts, we are in no rush. Know why? Because we love each other today, and we will probably love each other tomorrow. We know there are no guarantees in this life, especially when someone else is involved.
At any rate, this is how I live my life. I still plan. I still believe that, in some cases, what I do will affect an outcome. But mostly, I just live the best I can today, and I know I’ll probably live the best I can tomorrow. That’s a good enough guarantee for me.