Relapse is a part of my story. I was once ashamed of that, and I can honestly say that I am not embarrassed anymore! I actively choose to not dwell on it and let myself start to think those negative thoughts: “You had almost three years, you had so much time, and you gave it all away! You failed; you failed completely! You’re weak!”
Because, as my Sponsor likes to say, negative thoughts are just my oversized ego doing a ridiculous dance in the corner, trying to distract me from the glory and perfection of God’s world.
But what I have thought about and wrote about since relapsing for the second time, is why it happened. I wanted to be very clear on the decisions I made that eventually led to taking a drink seem like an acceptable plan of action.
For starters, I got sober (for the second time) at the age of eighteen. I was absolutely stoked about the program and I truly believed the Steps could change me for the better. However, the initial idea to get into AA wasn’t my idea. Originally, I just asked my aunt if I could live with her in Hawaii. She promptly told me that I would have to get clean if I wanted to live with her. I had just gone through a horrible week of detoxing at her house. This week was also filled with meetings, meditation, and healthy food, which cleared my mind and heart considerably.
I almost immediately agreed and saw that getting sober was the best thing that I could do for myself. But the important bit here that I want to point out is that I didn’t get into AA because my life had gotten SO bad I couldn’t bare it anymore. Basically, I don’t think I hit my bottom. I could admit that I had been severely depressed and suicidal, but at that point in my life, I still mainly blamed that on outside circumstances with friends and family, not on my drinking and reckless, purposeless lifestyle.
So I stayed clean for nearly three years in Hawaii. I fell in love with the program, with the fellowship and with the Steps and the way they changed my inner world. My life was going exactly as I had hoped it would in sobriety! I had a handsome boyfriend who was in AA too, and I was living with my aunt and a few other women in recovery who had become like my family. I had a well-paying job that allowed me to be creative, and I was living in my dream location, Hawaii!
But as it so often seems to happen in life, even in recovery, things began to unravel. My boyfriend became increasingly physically violent. My relationship with my aunt and the other women who I lived with fell into dust. I left my well-paying job. I moved out completely on my own for the first time!
Everything that I had been using to validate the quality and worthiness of my life was suddenly gone. Thankfully my Sponsor was there to help guide me through it.
But in the fall of 2014, I decided to leave Hawaii. I felt defeated and was struggling to make ends meet. I moved back to my hometown and into my dad’s house. I walked right back into my old life, basically.
One night, I went out with my friends to a movie premiere that our friends were in, and then we went out to the bar. Everyone looked so cool and sophisticated drinking, and before I knew it, I was holding a beer and taking a sip.
For the next two days, I was in Hell. Literal Hell. I was consumed with guilt and fear and shame. It’s like a beast was awakened within me. I became obsessed with drinking, wondering how early I could start and still get through the day without passing out or blacking out.
What I quickly realized was that the way my mind was working wasn’t unfamiliar. It was very familiar. It was then, after my mind and body had been clean for almost three years, that I discovered I had always been an out of control, obsessive drinker. It was just that I hadn’t known any other way of thinking and being before to compare it to.
I sucked up my pride, called my Sponsor, prayed, and went to a meeting. I’ve been here ever since, and I am looking forward to another 24 hours sober.
In conclusion, I believe that I drank again because I stopped believing in the power of the Steps and the program. I thought because my life had fallen apart that nothing was working and I was still the same “crappy” person. But I’ve come to see that sometimes life falls apart even in the program.
We are here to learn to accept life on life’s terms, and enjoy ourselves as much as we can along the way.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.