The other day, when it was getting a bit much for me, a very close friend of mine told me the concept of your life being like a table with lots of legs. Each one of the legs is one of the stabilising factors in your life; your job, your relationship, your finances, your parents, your children, your sobriety, your home. If there’s a problem with one, or even two of those legs, the table can still be pretty stable. But if you get too many problems with too many of those things at one time, things can get pretty unstable pretty quickly.
This is why people who are, for example, trapped in an unhappy relationship, can still feel ok at times. If everything else is absolutely perfect they can probably cope. But them it doesn’t take much else to go wrong before things can feel very out of hand.
That got me thinking about these table legs, these pillars of stability in our life. Take a look back at the list, think about some others that you might include. When I looked at my list I realised that ‘sobriety’ was an odd one out; it has something unique about it that makes if rather wonderful. Any ideas what it is?
When I looked at my pillars of stability they were all out of my control to one degree or another. I may be able to exercise some (limited) degree of control over them, and I may be able to take steps to remedy or mitigate things when they go wrong, but on the whole they are things that are totally out of my control.
A bad day at work, partner in a foul mood, parents or children being unwell. These are all things that just happen, or seem to, and are totally outside of our control. But sobriety? Not drinking? That is the only thing over which we have total control.
This is good because for many of us, without sobriety none of the other pillars would last long anyway. I remember in AA being told that sobriety had to come first. There was no ‘I can’t attend a meeting tonight because I have to work late / have a family function / have to visit a relative’. Because without sobriety none of those things would even exist.
For some people, sobriety is something they have to practise to survive. For me it’s far more than that. It’s the one central tenet of my life, the thing I can rely on above all others, because it’s the one thing over which I have total control.