This year I would have had 10 years of continuous sobriety. But I don’t.
I shared once at a meeting that I had this list of the most horrible things in life that if they would happen to me, I would give myself a free pass to drink, like the death of a loved one or losing a limb or something. Divorce was not on that list, but maybe I gave myself the permission anyway. I don’t know. I just had no clue how difficult it would be and that my ex was going to fight me on everything and repeatedly take me to court.
I am, however, very proud that I am back, again, and that I continue to fight this mind-boggling disease. I know many of us do not make it back, and that frightens me!
Yet, at the same time, I feel lots of shame and guilt – I do. I can’t help it! I feel like a failure. I feel like I let many people down. I feel like I let myself down too! And no matter how often I remind myself that I am not a failure, I continue to feel it, deep down to the core – it continues to hurt. That is also the reason that I have not written about it, but I think it really is time to do so.
It all seemed to have happened very fast. There was lots going on with the freshly started divorce process, and many things that had to be done right away – splitting accounts, packing belongings, adjusting to a new schedule, becoming a single mom, and a newly empty bed to sleep in.
But I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t really eating either. I often would have stomach ache caused by stress. My mind was constantly occupied with what-ifs and I couldn’t focus on anything. I was trying to stay connected but it was hard to keep talking about things over and over. Then I started isolating and pretty much fell off the recovery grid.
I am sure I have been feeling the same convoluted feelings that others who have relapsed did too, but maybe even more so since for some reason, I thought that after almost 10 years I would have this thing in the bag! Well, no. No such thing.
There are many reasons why I drank. Most likely explanation would be because I have an addiction to alcohol, also known as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Another would be because I chose to. Another would be because I gave up. Another would be because, I thought that I could get away with it, or didn’t ask for help. But most likely because I was in so much pain that I just could not deal with it anymore. There can be a million reasons and all would probably be valid.
I know that I did not drink because I thought I could just have one drink. I actually remember thinking before the first relapse that one drink would definitely not be enough and just a waste of time. So I decided to get plowed because I desperately wanted to check out.
I have gone through some difficult times in my sobriety because you know life is life and shit happens to all of us. This time though I was not ready to deal with my feelings and I was just trying to bury them deep down.
I had people around me, and I had the support and tried to get thru it all, but I think looking back I wish I had started seeing a therapist before I actually filed for the divorce. I wish I had a way to prepare myself for the flood of emotions that I was completely unprepared for.
Addiction recovery is a long process filled with both victories and setbacks. Kat McGowan clarifies that, when it comes to addiction recovery, “relapsing is the rule, not the exception.” She goes on to explain that, instead of looking at relapse as a sign that the recovery process has failed and that the person should give up all hope of maintaining sobriety, she should instead look at the experience as a learning opportunity.
So if I can offer any advice whatsoever I would say to get professional help as soon as you are feeling out of control and grow a huge support network in recovery. It is the pivotal point that will make your recovery stronger!
Most importantly, stay open to save yourself! The secrecy that is born in our addictions is single-handedly the one piece that has to be dismantled because it will take you out every time! No, this does not mean that you have to shout from the rooftops about getting sober, (it might help if you choose too) but having some group of people who you can connect with and let them know how you are feeling and what you are struggling with, especially in those fuck its moments when you want to drink – that, will save your life! It saved my life many times – a simple text or call to someone, anyone, will most often be just enough to deter you from picking up a drink!
To be continued…
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If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).