There’s an old saying that “You can’t wade in the same river twice.” The river may look the same, but the water and everything beneath the surface is constantly changing.
So it is with people. We may think that we are the same as we were yesterday, but that is demonstrably not the case. Everything that has happened to us and around us since then has changed us, but because these changes are constant we only notice the really big ones and tend to overlook the small stuff.
But it’s the small changes that define who we are in our sobriety. We may have visited the market and completed our shopping without becoming annoyed with the other shoppers. We may have caught ourselves about to embellish the facts a bit, and instead chosen to tell only the truth. We may have driven past one of our old watering holes and been oblivious, or found ourselves choosing a meeting over an evening alone, or a good book instead of mindless sitcoms on the tube.
We may find ourselves doing healthy things because we enjoy them: taking walks, preparing a nutritious snack, calling someone and grounding our feelings instead of distracting ourselves with unhealthy behavior, or begin paying more attention to our appearance and personal hygiene, all without giving them much thought.
We don’t notice these things because they have become habits, routines, part of our lives. In the long run, our program of recovery is about discarding the habits of addiction in favor of the habits of sobriety. Occasionally we will have little flashes that remind us how much we have changed, but most of the progress will be subtle, and over time.
When we are discouraged about our program, or about how our lives are going in general, it is good to look back on these little changes and appreciate them, for they are the true measure of our progress.