Recovery takes vision. Vision is a combination of what you’re seeing and where you’re looking. Perpective and direction. First things first. Let’s look at perspective. (The 68th episode looks at how vision plays a critical role in getting and staying sober. Read the transcript or share the YouTube video today)

This is one of several familiar watering holes in my neighborhood. It’s not moving out of the neighborhood, and neither am I. So what I’m seeing – instead of laughter and televised sports and camaraderie with friends and people of the opposite gender who get more attractive by the ounce – is a place that’s going to bring me back to severe health problems and a set of handcuffs. There isn’t one time I set foot in a tavern and had just one drink, after all. Ironically, I now chair a recovery meeting right next door.

The same vision applies when I go to the grocery store. I had to walk past the liquor aisle to get to the bakery … or at least I had to until I swore off the bakery for a New Year’s resolution. Walking past the liquor department, I don’t get slowed down by sales signs, sights of slick ads with slicker models or that golden hue of Jack in the familiar square bottle. What I see instead, is a trip back to misery. It’s what I choose to see. After all, Lynchburg isn’t going stop barreling whiskey just because I stopped drinking it and the local tavern isn’t going to close down and build a shrine to my sobriety instead.

That’s perpective, or what you see. Where you’re looking is your direction.

The rearview mirror is a handy tool when you’re backing up. If you are driving forward, you’re going to have a devil of a time keeping the car between the poles if you’re staring into the rearview. If you are rebuilding your life in the first months or years of sobriety, you’re better off using the windshield and looking forward, than you are using the rearview and staring at what’s behind you. Never diminish what you’ve been through, what you’ve survived. Even the most skilled drivers check their mirrors. Just remember this thing is the past and you don’t live there anymore.