Addiction · Autobiography · Mental Health · Personal Development

Look

Sitting at the lunch counter with Mase I twirled a straw wrapper between my fingertips and tried not to meet his eyes. “So, I, uh, so I… I relapsed.” He was the first I told in person. The weight of it on my shoulders was released, then quickly replaced as tears came to my eyes and shame moved in. It’d been 36 hours since I sat in an old friend’s apartment with a bottle of bourbon, but I was still having trouble believing it happened.

He didn’t ask me why. He knew why I drank after over three years of sobriety. The only reason anyone ever relapses, I couldn’t find a reason why it mattered if I stayed sober anymore. I couldn’t find it and I didn’t go looking. I didn’t make phone calls. I didn’t go to a meeting. I just gave up and I drank. Another split-second decision that I’d have to pay for.

I didn’t keep drinking. I went to a meeting as soon as I could. I earned my 24 hour chip and then sat in my car sobbing. Not for the things I’d lost, but for the things I am. For the places I keep coming back to. For the selfish, self-serving, and stupid things I find myself doing over and over again. For my carelessness. For my apathy. For my lack of patience. For my passion and stubbornness. For my hurtfulness. For how pointless and hopeless this all feels. For all the things sorrys and sobbing won’t change.

Yet I continue forward. Despite my current inability to see why. Though I feel I don’t deserve it and it doesn’t matter anyway. I climb back up and I put one foot in front of the other and I go looking.

Go looking for something–for anything–that makes this feel a little more manageable. That reminds me I am someone worthy of love and compassion and forgiveness. Which proves I can change and grow. Something that will tell me it doesn’t always come back to this. That I can keep looking. That I will find the reasons and learn to keep them close.

60 thoughts on “Look

  1. I’m a recovering addict too. You did not lose the period of sobriety you had accumulated. Your slip does not invalidate it, does not cancel it. It is still real. You restarted your counter, but you still achieved that period of sobriety one day at a time by the grace of the god of your understanding. It’s yours to keep. Be well!!

    Liked by 8 people

  2. It has been said that the most dangerous moment for an addict is when he or she thinks tey have won the battle. I think that second and third place, in unknown order, must be the one in which they think either that they cannot ever win, or that it doesn’t matter. I’m sorry that you got caught in one of those traps, and glad you got back out of it. You did not allow the shame you felt to keep you in the trap. One of the wisest men I ever knew said, when he was celebrating his 36th AA birthday, “I still do it one day at a time.” Perhaps, as much as the count of days, weeks, months, or years may be something to celebrate, what really counts is each sober day. You will find reason for today. Tomorrow may provide a different one. That reminds me of a story:

    “Alice carefully released the brush, and did her best to get the hair into order. ‘Come, you look rather better now!’ she said, after altering most of the pins. ‘But really you should have a lady’s maid!’

    ‘I’m sure I’ll take you with pleasure!’ the Queen said. ‘Twopence a week, and jam every other day.’

    Alice couldn’t help laughing, as she said, ‘I don’t want you to hire me—and I don’t care for jam.’

    ‘It’s very good jam,’ said the Queen.

    ‘Well, I don’t want any to-day, at any rate.’

    ‘You couldn’t have it if you did want it,’ the Queen said. ‘The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday—but never jam to-day.’

    ‘It must come sometimes to “jam to-day,”’ Alice objected.

    ‘No, it can’t,’ said the Queen. ‘It’s jam every other day: to-day isn’t any other day, you know.’ ”

    Today really isn’t any other day.

    Liked by 11 people

    1. Yes, today is the day! Todays the day! Carpe Diem, seize the day. We get but one. Look after today, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour for today will look after tomorrow. Never surrender!

      Liked by 5 people

  3. Not being experienced in this myself it is hard (impossible) to understand, but my immediate response is how hard sobriety is as a lifestyle. A formerly obese person learns to eat in moderation, exercise and so on, but they do not stop eating. I’m not saying that relapse is not a big deal, but what an incredibly difficult benchmark sobriety is. I feel like it’s asking so much of people, and to read about your sense of (shame? anger? grief?) disappointment in that one moment makes me feel that what you are doing is so unbelievably difficult. Your achievement was 3 years sober. That’s remarkable. Your mistake was a few hours of drinking, but you know it was wrong. How much is that mistake going to harm your pride and sense of worth?

    I hope this isn’t insensitive, but your story tells of a person who needs to be reminded that thy have the right to be proud of themselves.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. My son relapsed after about three years as well. He stopped going to meetings and didn’t see the need for it. He’s back on track and has been clean and sober for a year and a half. He almost lost his second marriage and the ability to see his daughters on a regular basis. It’s a tough road, I encourage you to keep looking forward. You are strong and capable! I will add you to my prayers!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’m in aa to. Thank you for sharing this. I just turned 3 last September and I was at friends house cleaning and I picked up a kahloa bottle and smelled it then she grabbed it from me and put it away. I recently have known someone who had 25 years and went out and it took him 3 months to come back. Remember you came back. Some never make it back. Good job at going back. This can happen to anyone. Easy does it. One thing I was taught with someone who goes out to ask them what made them do it? Hang in there all we have is today. Don’t be to hard on your self

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I relapsed after 20 yrs and almost didn’t make it back. Talk about recriminations! What matters is what you do now and how much you want it. Carry on one step at a time

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. Keep coming back. 11 months for me today, can’t tell you how many 24 hour chips I picked up before this run…longest I have gone since I started. Read, meetings, and prayer everyday or I could lose it all too. Anyone of us could it is cunning baffling and powerful. God bless you for your humility and for picking that chip back up. Our lives depend on it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your life is precious. You bring hope to those who need to know that is possible to get through three years without drinking, that it’s okay to make mistakes and the strength it takes to put them behind you and carry on. Keep going keep going keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m a recovering alcoholic, too. The key word is “recovering” . Not “recovered.” I try to learn from my mistakes and learn from my achievements. It sounds like you know what to do, and did what you needed to do after your slip. That which sounds trite in meetings is not. Take it one day at a time, surround yourself with supportive people…..and allow your blog to be cathartic. Great post, and nice to “meet” you in this WordPress community.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi, I’m coming up for 10 years on August 26th. So I know where you’re coming from. Firstly, thanks for sharing. It’s critically important because shame dies on exposure. And positive self worth cannot coexist with shame. I see that when you closed, you said that you are worthy of, amongst other things, Forgiveness. Of course you are. But there can be no forgiveness before you forgive yourself. In my humble opinion, and speaking only for myself, as our traditions say; Forgiving myself was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Because of the guilt, the shame and all of the self-recriminations that go with our disease. I found that once I had managed to finish that process of self-forgiveness everything else just became clear. I realise now that that was the most important milestone in my recovery. I wish you every success in your Recovery. One-day-at-a-time. Easy does it. Peter

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Just leaving some encouragement. You may have slipped but you are still climbing the mountain, making progress one day, one hour, one minute, one second, at a time. & that is something to be proud of. You always have a reason to stay sober, yourself. Stay strong through the journey. ❤

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  13. Hello Ruby.
    We are all human, we make mistakes. We all have done something that is bad for us, but we have done over and over again. We all have to learn from our mistakes. Everything takes time. It is never easy to feel confident and move on like nothing happened, it takes time. It can take a weeks, months or sadly years to recover from what you are dealing with. The most important part is having hope. Having at least 1% of hope can get you through a lot. You said that you have to find reasons to keep going, which is a good thing to do when you feel low.
    Always remember that if you are feeling low, your life isn’t over yet. Hope you start feeling better and pushing through! Stay positive!

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