Wipe the slate clean…or do better because you know better. One of those.

I saw a picture today that contained the sentiment, every ay is a second chance. It reminded me of a saying I sometimes use “Wipe the slate clean.”

Wiping the slate clean is powerful. Every day IS a chance to do things differently. Every moment is an opportunity to change your direction. There is no point in dwelling in the pain of the past. Sometimes, for our own sanity, we must forgive and let go. Even of big things. Because holding on to anger or pain just keeps it close to your heart. And doesn’t let the love that is in there shine.

BUT…I often employed the clean slate in self serving ways. Would I rather meet friends for drinks and miss my workout??? Suuuuure. I will just wipe the slate clean tomorrow. How many times did I plan to go on some eating plan or diet and gorge myself the day before – knowing I could start fresh with a clean slate the next day? Many many.

So, although the sentiment of starting with a clean slate is HUGE, it needs to be tempered with some common sense. Is it Oprah who says “when you know better, do better”? Because that is the important factor here. IfI KNOW what you are choosing to do is not in line with your beliefs or goals, I am not choosing wisely. At some point personal responsibility (or love for myself, as I like to think of it), needs to be part of the decision making process.This is hard when it comes to addictive behaviour. But, for me, as a sober person who starts to think, maybe a glass of wine at a wedding might be ok, I will go back to being sober tomorrow, after the vacation, etc., this is the time to ask…do I know better? Does this though feel good? For now, that sort of thinking keeps me comfortable in saying no to those thoughts. I know I could start again tomorrow, but I also know it will suck.

This was definitely a problem for me when it came time to quit drinking. I would start my week with either a plan to moderate or abstain the following weekend. Then Friday would come and there would be a chance to drink on a patio, or at a bar, or alone on my couch. And I would decided I deserved it, I am a smart, successful woman, I work hard, I am taking care of the world, I need to relax. And I could always start again tomorrow. Justifying my planned behaviour. I never felt good. And it always seemed self destructive. But, at the time, I just couldn’t quite see what else to do. So I kept this up for a long, long time.

I am grateful that 17 months ago today I wiped the booze slate clean for the last. I finally said, out loud, enough. My last day one. No more doing it tomorrow. The start of my road back to living! I’ve had to wipe many other slates clean along the way. Many of them have been just as powerful. I have left behind a lot of fear, self doubt, anger, blame and resentment. And I start each day filled with the knowledge that it is a new day – free for me to make it as fantastic as I wish.

Unfortunately, for some people, tomorrow never comes. The stay caught in their cycle of abuse, unhappiness and addiction. Maybe there are legal raminfications, health issues, personal problems. Those are the real risks of living with plans to change everything tomorrow, because you can always start again.

Start today. Wipe the slate clean today. Drinking? Done. Not good for you. Not helping you. Get help. Call a therapist. Go to AA. Do whatever you need to keep that slate clean. And keep it that way. Obviously we all stumble occasionally, and then we do dust yourself off and start again. Just be honest with yourself before you go back down that path. Do you know better? If so, what could you TRY to change things before they happen?

Just some thoughts. Maybe there is another way to look at this. Let me know if you see it differently!

Embrace today! It is all we have and it can be awesome.

Stillness and peace.

Anne

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16 thoughts on “Wipe the slate clean…or do better because you know better. One of those.

  1. I love this, and relate to every word. In many ways I still employ the strategy of wiping the slate clean in self-serving ways. For example, today is my husband’s birthday, so I will “start fresh” on my healthy eating tomorrow. Now, if I actually stick to the plan, great. However, if I wake up tomorrow, realize it’s a Saturday, and think, “well, it would be simpler to start fresh on Monday,” then I am misusing it. I know better, so I need to do better.

    Hmmm… hopefully writing that out will help me better stick to this intention.

    Great post, Anne!

    1. Cake on birthdays is important. Have a small piece and savour it. If you eat out, choose something good, but not crazy. I often have to remind myself it’s not my last meal ever! Lol
      I think that’s better than sticking to food rules that feel depriving.

  2. This is helpful – it’s always helpful to know how others got their start and secured their last day 1. And what happens when they tried to just drink on the weekends, etc. Whenever I find myself saying “tomorrow” – whether it’s dealing with an issue or even chores, it’s an automatic red flag and makes me feel lazy. If I had that attitude about everything, I think to myself, I’d be a massive failure in all facets of life. That usually kicks me into gear. Tomorrow never really comes, in a way. Only today. And the next today and the next.

  3. The trouble with clean slates is that they can become addictive, all by themselves, as we know that we can keep starting over. As you say, better to clean it off for good and start living.

  4. This is so undeniably true. Using the slate as an excuse to always “start tomorrow” instead of today. I think I even employ it when it comes to other life changes, such as saving money or eating healthy. Time to start working on stuff outside my addiction recovery, I suppose.

    And 17 MONTHS…. Anne you inspire me :). I’ll reach 90 days on the 5th, and it’s your success I’m working to emulate. Thank you, for being awesome ;).

  5. Dear Anne,
    I am glad I am sober today, too!
    I am learning to let go of being so hard on myself.
    I can’t wait. Each day is a day for me to learn more about self-compassion!
    xo
    Wendy

  6. So very true. Every word of it Anne. I am acutely aware, however, that for some there is a third component to “know better” and “do better,” and that is “believe better.” One has to believe he or she deserves “better” before beginning again for the last time becomes a possible thing. My heart hurts for those who aren’t convinced they are “worth it.” Blessedly, you are one who stands in the sunlight and beckons others to follow, to come out of the darkness and into healing. That is such a good and important thing. Keep writing!

    1. Yes. That is a hard one.
      I’m not even sure how I ever got to the point of believing I deserve better. It started with pretending I believed it. Pretending was enough to get Me going on the sober path. And one day my heart opened and I realized it was true.

  7. Anne I couldn’t agree more. I just read your post and it makes so much sense. Yes, we can have clean slates and start again. But we don’t get back the time lost. I guess it’s not totally lost time if we were learning a lesson…but it is still lost. Its a paradox I guess. I’ve become acutely aware (lately more so) just how destructive my drinking was. I need this reality, not to punish myself but to keep me honest in the knowledge that I do know better. If I drink again I might be OK and get back up and dust myself off and start this AGAIN. But, my next drink might also be the time that I drive and kill someone, or pass out on my couch while one of my kids needs medical attention, or the drink that sends me to liver disease…Yes I know better. And I’m just starting to realize that I deserve better. We all deserve better.

  8. Great post Anne. I have certainly applied that theory to myself many times! I will start tomorrow. No, may as well make it Monday. But maybe not this Monday, the next one. And of course it never happened. (What is it about Mondays anyway?) I do concentrate too much on the past, I know that. I wish I had done things differently and I get down about it. But you can’t change the past, there’s no point in dwelling on it too much, especially if it’s going to make today worse. Now I just have to put it into practice.

  9. and isn’t it true also the idea of “doing today so you can have a better tomorrow” (or whatever it is, i’m bad at remembering quotes). i was reading one of my journals this morning from 11 years ago (ouch) and i’m surprised at how many things are the same AND how many times i said something about needing to quit drinking or to moderate (yeah, and we know how successful THAT is). maybe today is a good day to begin — to be sober, to make changes bit by bit, so that in another 11 years we’re writing something else 🙂 hugs from me xo

    1. I love doing today so you can have a better tomorrow.
      It’s hard to put aside instant gratification. We all want everything and we want it now.
      I know, for me, every sober day gets better and better. I just need to remember that and it’s easy to say no to booze.

  10. Yeah, what Anne said. I spent 27 years trying to ignore that still voice that said, “This is wrong for you.” Luckily, that voice never gave up, I could hold in under the surface with booze, but it always came bubbling back up. Dang, it sure could hold its breath a long time. Listen to that voice, it is YOU.

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