Just for Today

Some advice on coping with stress, fear, and uncertainty in difficult times.

Posted Jan 22, 2021

A favorite slogan from my twelve-step recovery program is “just for today.” It reminds me to try to stay present, particularly on a bad day. It’s also helped me during the pandemic when everyone is grappling with stress, fear, and uncertainty. When will a vaccine become available in my community? Who will be given priority? Where will it be distributed and by whom? If I get the first shot, will a second one be available? And what if it isn’t? How long will I be protected? If I contract COVID, will I land in a hospital on a ventilator? Will I die? (I’m an elder and more vulnerable.)

Like citizens coping with the pandemic, those of us grappling with a loved one’s addiction are no strangers to stress, fear, and uncertainty, all of which give rise to questions. Will my loved one ever stop using and seek recovery? What happens if she loses her job, her home, or her children? Will she land in jail? Or worse yet, overdose and die? Do I step in and try to stop the madness or do I detach and let things unfold without interfering? And how do I detach with love?

“Just for today" might help quiet some of our stress, fear, and uncertainty.

Just for today, I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once. (Don’t project into the future and/or obsess over the past.) 

Just for today, I will adjust myself to what is, and try not to adjust everything to my own desires. (Don’t try to change someone through shame, guilt, and manipulation.)

Just for today, I won’t find fault with anything, nor try to improve or regulate anybody but myself. (Don’t harbor resentment but do abandon judgment and expectations.)

Recently, very late one night, I received a call from my adult son who lives out of state. His car had broken down again. He was agitated and feeling sorry for himself (“I help all my friends and no one is willing to come and help me out.”) Luckily, I had given him a year’s membership to AAA and he was able to arrange for his car to be towed to a garage. I assured him that things would work out, suggested he get a good night’s sleep, and told him I loved him.

In the past, I would have been agitated for the rest of the night and lost sleep. But that night, I was able to calm down. I drank a cup of herbal tea and read my “just for tonight” bookmark: “I will accept that I have done the best I could… and remind myself that I am both deserving and in need of rest." I slept well.

In Mornings in Blackwater, Mary Oliver writes:

What I want to say is                                             

the past is the past,

and the present is what your life is,

and you are capable

of choosing what that will be.

Accepting what your life is and choosing what it will be can provide some comfort and peace during difficult times.

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