The working definition of commitment is “an agreement or pledge to do something in the future.” We make minor commitments every day, like meeting a friend for lunch or picking up a child from school. Some of us have more long-term, indefinite commitments like marriage or parenting. Commitments are either honored, or we break them. However, this definition of commitment is oversimplified and not always helpful in the context of the recovery process.
Family members of clients who have experienced a substantial amount of clean time will often ask, “Will my loved one ever use again?” My honest response is, “I don’t know, the answer to that question is unfolding each day.” The acceptance of “not knowing,” requires the client and their family members to learn how to rest in ambiguity.
The problem with “ambiguity,” for most recovering people- and most people for that matter, is that settling into that gray area is uncomfortable. I have had clients relapse because of the uncomfortable feelings caused by ambiguity, “I was considering a lifetime of sobriety and just didn’t know if I could do it, so I drank.” By drinking, the client was able to answer that question with a definite YES! And for a moment, not living in ambiguity offered a moment of peace.
The key to commitment in recovery is to re-new that commitment each day, and to commit to each moment in that day. An initial commitment to recovery is powerful, but it is the daily commitment to health and sobriety that really counts. You have no idea how you will feel about sobriety in a week, or a month or 10 years- so don’t worry about it, you’ll get there when you get there.
The idea of a renewed commitment allows for us to stumble, because we will- we are people after all, but we can also get back on track.