When I think back to my last relapse, I can clearly see now the chain of events and behavioral changes that led to my downfall. I’m not going to waste time beating myself up about it though, because first of all I can’t change the past and secondly the twists that started to manipulate my mind were so subtle I couldn’t even recognize them while they were happening. That’s the thing about my alcoholism that I sometimes forget: it is truly cunning, baffling, powerful and patient. It will start out with just a few negative thoughts, which slowly morphs into resentment, and then before I know it I’ve got a drink in my hand.
But when I do take an honest look back at my relapses, there is one culprit that stands out to me above all else: the fact that a part of me was still holding out for the day that I could drink again. Looking forward to it almost. It was such a small aspect of my inner world that I didn’t even notice it was there. I have no memories of consciously thinking, I hope one day I can drink again. But the last time I held a bottle to my lips a rush of relief came over me, and a slick and slimy voice whispered finally.
I’ve heard it said in the meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, the First Step is the only Step you can do perfectly. We admitted we were powerless of alcohol that our lives had become unmanageable. The First Step is the only one that we must accept perfectly and wholeheartedly into our being if we want to get and stay sober. But there was a part of me that got sober to please someone else, and eventually that showed up in my life.
But I’m not even upset about relapsing, because ultimately it showed me the parts of myself that I was holding back from the sunlight of the spirit. It showed me a couple more areas of weakness within myself, and for that I am genuinely grateful. I was very lucky to emerge from that relapse after just two days and get right back into the meetings with a deeper understanding of myself and an unquenchable desire to get sober, not for anyone else this time except me.
I believe that fully conceding to being an alcoholic is a different process for everyone. For some people it happens in a split second and they never have the desire to drink again. For some it is a slower and more challenging process. It has taken me from the age of fifteen to twenty-one to fully acknowledge that I am an alcoholic and even be grateful for it! But I am. I wouldn’t change how I am for anything in the world. Being a recovering alcoholic is the best thing I could have asked for.
So if you also find yourself struggling with fully accepting that your life is unmanageable with alcohol and drugs as a part of it, I suggest going back through your using days, all the way back to the beginning. And just start writing out your “war stories” as they’re sometimes called. Write out all the times you were stranded, blacked out, arrested, hung over – all the times you didn’t want to drink or drinking and using got in the way of your success in life and relationships. When my Sponsor had me do that exercise it wasn’t more than a few paragraphs before I started to see patterns and similarities between the situations.
I’m not going to say that Step One is easy, because it’s not. The Steps are simple and effective, but definitely the most challenging parts of my life. So it?s going to take some serious courage to move forward into recovery with no reservations. But it’s possible, and worth it.
“When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.” Alcoholics Anonymous, Chapter 2
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.