Along with the post about black outs i have always intended to post my thoughts on slips and relapses. I realize now though that perhaps i hesitated because up until recently, i had no personal experience with relapse and my information would have been based on external sources. It would have been superficial to say the least. And when i began experimenting again this past year, i never considered any planned drinking as a ‘slip’, per-say. After all, i didn’t just fall into a glass of alcohol, like some kid of accident. But slips are not really like that. They are defined by their short bursts of intensity with intents to continue in recovery . And they are the stepping stones to relapse.
In all honesty, i never believed relapse would happen to me. I was cruising along 6, 12 then 15 months without a glitch.I headed into experimentation with confidence, despite any and all questions or subtle suggestions from others. Hell, i was in a new and wonderful relationship..i had put in my sober time..i was happy..what could go wrong? I truly thought i was “handling ” it. ( if you don’t believe me, read some of my posts from May through August.) In September i had a moment when i started realizing i was getting a bit casual with it and decided all i needed was a 30 day break, a reset…And even when i only made it 3 weeks i still couldn’t see what was happening.
Then there was the bad experience in October with my BF. I chalked it up to circumstance and kept going. November- another bad experience. STILL i kept going. December, then January..increased problems and not just with the BF. It finally dawned on me when i announced my new intentions on here and a fellow blogger said something along the lines of “sorry you had a relapse, but glad you are back on track” I apologize i don’t remember who it was but i want to say THANK YOU. Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. Yes, i had ‘relapsed’ and not even recognized it for what it was.The words hurt, but not because i felt offended. They hurt because i had to acknowledge the fact. I am so grateful to that person.
Previously, i had been of the notion that relapse was something like the movies..particularly one i watched at about 6 months into sobriety called “Drunks”( 1995). Lots of famous people in the cast..check it out if you have a night and are totally bored.The main character was a recovering alcoholic , sober for about 2 years i think. He spoke in AA meetings, and was sort of a sponsor. Then he gets pushed over the edge with some personal issues and just goes nuts. He walks into a liquor store and gets a bottle. The night progresses and he even tries taking some heavy drugs in his altered mental state. It was fast and furious and probably way less common than the typical relapse. I knew i would ever do such a thing so i just wrote off relapse as something that would happen under only extreme duress or to a lifelong drinker. Not to me, for sure.
But i suspect most relapses happen more like my own. Slowly, subtly..taking us unawares. Starting with attempts at moderation, control, and/or experimentation.Telling ourselves we are fine. Until one day we aren’t.
I have said it before, and i’ll say it again. I don’t exactly regret the experience. It has taught me a lot about myself. Incredibly, i now know i can STILL fail at any time. No matter how much sober time i have, or how together i think i am. For me, vigilance isn’t enough. It’s an illusion of control that i do not have. Perhaps it isn’t the same for everyone and i do not judge or make assumptions. But for me any drinking is walking on an oil slicked , steep hill in high heels.
I thank all of you who have been here for me along my journey and for those i have just connected with. Stay Strong.