Reprieve: a cancellation or postponement of a punishment.
“All We Have is a Daily Reprieve, Contingent Upon the Maintenance of our Spiritual Condition”
I went to a meeting this morning about emotional sobriety. An old-timer raised her hand and shared the quote above. How perfect. We put down the booze and pills and powders, and we are left with ourselves, which can sometimes seem like a weird form of punishment. However, it doesn’t have to be all bad, it’s actually, a huge blessing in disguise.
So What is a Daily Reprieve?
What did you do today for your sobriety? Did you go to a meeting? Help out a newcomer? Pray? When the program mentions that daily reprieve, what they are talking about is the peace that we give ourselves through working that program.
Has your sponsor ever told you when your mind was going a million miles an hour to simply go, “Back to the Basics”? Those basics can so often be forgotten once we get some time under our belts and start to feel normal again, so in case you forgot:
- We Admit we are powerless – every day, over everything external, and even some internal
- We thank our Higher Power and ask what we can do that day
- We think of others
- We remain Grateful
Being an alcoholic or an addict isn’t a death sentence, it is a life sentence. However, if we aren’t pushing ourselves towards that reprieve, every day, we are going to fall back to our old ways.
What if I Haven’t Done my Steps Yet?
My very first sponsor once told me, at any point in your sobriety, even before you finish the steps, you can always do any step that starts with the number 1.
- Step 1: Admitted we were powerless and our lives were unmanageable
- Step 10: We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
- Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out
- Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
These are daily reprieve steps – no matter how far you have gotten in your step work. They encompass so much, require so little, and bring so much reward. Consider how easy these actions are to incorporate into your daily life.
For example, in the morning, when you wake up, admit you are powerless and ask your Higher Power for guidance (steps 1 and 11).
If you make a mistake, or lash out at someone, or even at yourself, right that wrong, be gentle with yourself and others, and practice responding to that situation better next time.
Reach out to a sober support or a newcomer, even if you aren’t sure you have anything to offer. Sometimes, all people need is a listening and compassionate ear.
The Importance of a Daily Reprieve
If we aren’t actively staying on our grind and kicking our addiction’s butt every day, we can fall back into it pretty quickly. It might not be an immediate relapse, but it will definitely be glaring character defects, lying, isolating, manipulating, pity parties, immoral thoughts, selfishness, inclination for drama, illusions of grandeur, desire to control, etc.
Do you know how they say that your addiction is always in the back of your mind, doing push-ups while you sleep? Well, the daily reprieve counteracts all that mumbo jumbo. A lot of people think that being sober means always living in fear of relapse when in reality, it is exactly the opposite. Once we do our steps, and if we are trying to remain in conscious contact with our higher power, the temptation and craving of booze, pills, and powders, literally flies out the window. We don’t NEED it anymore, and more often than not, we don’t even WANT it anymore.
When we strive to incorporate that daily reprieve into our life, we can actually see the joy and worth of living and maintaining that spirituality. That daily reprieve, those small actions every day, is what gets us those 9th step promises that sound so pretty and out of reach in the beginning.
How to Get Started
I think one of the coolest and most underrated aspects of sobriety, is that besides the steps, you can literally make it your own. Don’t like praying on your knees? Fine! Pray upside down with your head hanging off the bed instead. Don’t like a certain meeting? No worries! Find a new one.
Your daily reprieve is YOUR OWN daily reprieve. Do what makes you feel connected to your HP, do what makes you feel grateful. Explore new avenues! Volunteer at a homeless shelter, plant a garden, walk the beach, call your family members, express compassion for others. Whatever you need or want to do that makes you feel connected to your higher power, your program of recovery, and the world around you.
Getting sober doesn’t mean we don’t get to have fun anymore. Our daily reprieve allows us to be engaged, get involved, and enjoy life. It reminds us to stay humble, count our blessings, and continue seeking that wonderful feeling that you get when you notice that all of those little coincidences and blessings in your life prove that you are on the right track.
Our daily reprieve is our daily eye opener, so open your eyes! Pray, give back, dance, shout, tell people you love them, always have an attitude of gratitude, and never forget where you used to be!