There have been more than a few times where I have sat in a small group of people who were insisting – almost begging – for me to go to a long-term residential program for addition and mental health. I loved each person and knew they had my best interest in mind, but I knew that there was no chance I was going to submit to their request. I knew I needed the help, but the major life change seemed too overwhelming to me. I simply could not imagine spending a few years in a residential program, mandated by rules and structure, even though I knew that I desperately needed the help.
In AA, you will often hear the saying “one day at a time.” This was something else I could not comprehend – my thoughts were focused on things like not being able to drink at my future wedding or at a potential summer cookout. I have found, as I am years down the road from where I was, that this might be one of the most useful and practical life-practices that we can teach the human trafficking survivors at Restored Wings’s Restored Wings Home.
Hindsight is always 20/20. Looking back, I wish I would have been able to realize that I did not have to focus on the long-term when seeking help and recovery. Major life change, especially when considering a long-term program like ours, is going to be overwhelming and scary. However, if we can help new residents focus on the small choices and on their day-to-day instead of their “months down the road,” life does not seem so scary or overwhelming.
On a side note, setbacks and failures are inevitable (such is life). However, it is easier to manage setbacks with constructive coping skills when you can look back and see how your “one day at a time” has brought you so far already.
On her first day in our program, a resident’s first small choice and success may be waking up at a set time, eating breakfast, choosing sobriety, and resting. The next day, it might be choosing to go to our therapeutic groups and seeing her individual counselor. These small choices are manageable. One day at a time, these practices string together to form weeks, months, and years of long-term healing and success.