One Day at a Time

A lot of my early recovery was learning the "one day at a time" habit.

In 1993, when I first had to face the stress of separation, child support payments, being a part-time dad, and struggling to provide for two households, I absolutely tortured myself with every possible combination of "what if?" thinking. I'm sure I suffered self-induced depression over the mental anguish.

What a relief when I found a CoDA support group where I could safely verbalize these issues rather than internalizing them. I realized that having "what if" concerns is normal, and that I had to confront my feelings about the situation rather than worrying. In other words, for me, the "what ifs" became one way of identifying and focusing on my feelings rather than denying them.

Since I could not deal with my whole life problem all at once, I took to heart "one day at a time" and for a long time, focused on that one principle. Also, a member of the local CoDA group gave me the "Just For Today" poem. I put it in my day planner and read it every day. Often, several times a day. Then, someone else gave me a bookmark with the same poem, and I still use it in my recovery books.

Most days though, it was one moment at a time, because the pain was so great. Slowly, I learned to face reality and deal with life on life's terms, rather than getting depressed, falling into denial, trying to control the people and situations causing the pain, or playing endless variations of "what if" to the point of jeopardizing my mental and physical health.

Eventually, the "one day at time" recovery tool became one of many recovery habits that saved my sanity and my life.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 21). One Day at a Time, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Last Updated: August 8, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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