Last week my husband suggested we check out the new Hobby Lobby that recently opened here. He knows how much I love craft stores, and luckily for me, he does too. So after work one day we stopped in just to look around. The store was huge, and there was a lot to see. As we perused the aisles and I daydreamed about the crafts I could make, we talked, laughed, planned future projects and purchases, and enjoyed ourselves. When we left the store, I checked the time and was surprised to see that we had been there for an hour and a half, just looking.
As I got in the car, it occurred to me that it hasn’t always been easy for me to just be in the moment like that and really enjoy myself. The whole time that we were in the store, I wasn’t thinking about the things that happened at work earlier in the day, or worrying about the pile of laundry that I needed to do later. I was just present. And I was happy.
When I went to treatment for my alcoholism, one of the things that I was taught was the importance of being mindful, staying present, basically knowing that I am ok right now, in this moment. As alcoholics, we tend to wallow in the past and worry about the future. Those two things, for me, were huge triggers for my drinking. I have a lot of wreckage in my past, huge amounts. Most of it was created by me, and so I suffered from so much guilt and shame that I would try to drink it away. I also had a lot of anxiety and fear about the future. Not knowing exactly how things were going to turn out, feeling like the negative things would never get better and that I was destined to live in fear and angst forever, also took me right to the bottle.
So how do you stay mindful and present? I am sure that there are many, many ways to do it. In fact, in treatment we were given a whole list of ideas that work for some people: journal, make gratitude lists, meditate, pray, the list goes on. But for me, what works is as simple as reminding myself that I cannot change the past, I cannot predict the future, and that I am ok, right now. Sometimes I have to do it over and over, because my alcoholic mind still tells me otherwise.
I try not to think about all of the beautiful moments that I missed because I was too caught up in worrying and feeling ashamed about things that had already come to pass, or feeling anxious and fearful about things that hadn’t even happened yet. What I know about now is that I miss far fewer of those beautiful moments. I am able to, most days, focus on the here and now, and feel the peace and joy that those moments bring.