RELAPSE: Confessions of an Alcoholic
Relapse, the heartbreak of the recovering addict; pushing the reset button on your sobriety, leaving behind the hard work and effort you maybe spent years putting in, looking down and realizing you have to climb up from the very first step again, sometimes when you don’t even know how you accomplished it the first time to begin with. As someone who has been through this process a number of times, I can tell you that the disappointment felt is close to unbearable.
A relapse is a stern reminder that addiction is an incurable condition which must be managed and looked after constantly. It grows and gets stronger if you let it run free, and it will eventually come back to hunt you. It’s a monster that lurks in the shadows waiting for your weak moments, for your times of insecurity and doubt. It knows that if it strikes when you are at your lowest it has a better chance of defeating you.
The most challenging part about a relapse is that we understand it as a gargantuan personal failure, as a sign of weakness, a billboard sized poster that says: You Will Never Get Your Shit Together, You Should Just Give Up. But Giving up is not a viable option for the addict in recovery; it’s like laying on the ground and waiting for the monster to come out of the shadows, feasting on your carcass until there’s no more of you, and then going after your loved ones. We are all aware of the hell that this disease puts us through; it’s the reason we have worked tirelessly to control it and get our lives back on track, giving up is just not in the cards.
Relapses, however, will happen, sometimes (most of the time) more than once. I am the type of addict that, after being sober for a while, likes to thing that I can go back to enjoying a drink like everyone else now and then, that I can have a bottle of wine alone in my apartment on a stressful day, that I can be in control of myself; the bad days are now over anyway. Even though there is a voice inside me that screams out: Your Logic and Reasoning are Flawed, You Know This!! another part of me wants to believe that I can chug two liters of Cabernet in about fifteen minutes to get a decent buzz and then watch a couple of episodes of Game of Thrones before I pass out. The next day things will go back to normal, right, Jay?
Needless to say, the addicted part of my reasoning has sometimes led me astray, and I have found myself once again reminded of what I already know: when it comes to alcohol, I simply don’t have the will and will never have the control. Usually when I have the first drink (bottle), another shows up the next day, because what does it matter anyway. And then the next day, and the next. It takes me some time to break the rhythm and to eventually find the courage and the strength to look the monster in its ugly face and say that’s enough.
Then begins the process of getting back up, the most painful part. I have to start building myself up one brick at a time, one thought at a time, one tear at a time, one prayer at a time. That’s when my strength and my drive and my hope is really tested; when I have to dig into the deepest parts of my spirit to crawl out of the hole with enough strength to continue on. But giving up is not an option, it has never been and will never be. I have accepted the fact that this is who I am, this is what I have to fight every single day and I will fight it with my all until the day I die.
How about you, how do you deal with the vulnerability of your addiction?