Relapse Is Not My Option
I often ask myself what I do differently than those who keep relapsing. I know that I am always one step either way from either the relapse or one step closer to keeping my recovery safe. I almost want to tread lightly through the broken glass that surrounds me as I once again watch someone I care very deeply about fall back into another relapse. And I know the whys and hows and all the excuses we would think to get us there in the grips of addiction once again. I know the depths of despair it takes to remove us from sanity and resurrect us in the deep end of the pool right beside death’s door. And I know just how bad wanting to rip our skin off our bones feels and how sitting still becomes another nightmare we are unable to awake from. I know all of that. I truly do, because that was me for so many years; way more years than not.
Sometimes I feel like people come into recovery believing in rainbows. They ride the cloud and when that ride stops and we have to do the work to jump to the next cloud, well, there we can falter. So, I am going to give us as accurate a truth to the beginning of recovery as I can. I could not go from needing death to owning a new vehicle in two days, two weeks, two months, or even two years. Where I am today is not even remotely close to where I began my recovery.
My recovery started with a lot of crying and pain and fear and very little hope. I just wanted to stop wanting to die. That was lifted very early in my recovery. There were tons of meetings in my early recovery and even more telephone talks and coffee dates. I hated being alone in early recovery because when that happened the voices in my head would get really loud and want me to use to not feel this way. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t stop fearing being alone, couldn’t get anything right, or seem to do anything right. A few months into my recovery, I started once again to want all that everyone else was getting, but still not realizing these people had worked years to get what they had, not months. I would cry myself to sleep more often than not, just wanting to have somebody with me. And it is here that I had some very good intuition about me. Here is where I started to realize that dying was not what I was supposed to do. It was at this time in my early recovery that I started to understand how hard God had worked to keep me alive, even against my better judgment. I started to notice things around me as I maneuvered my way in this new life I was living. I started to notice things about other people around me instead of always me, me, and me. I started to care about others and then I started to see the odd one leave and come back and then leave and not come back. They started to relapse and that made me more scared than I could even put into words at that time. I could not be one of those, and so I started hanging out with people with more clean time than me and then I seemed to notice that less.
I watched and did what others that were staying clean were doing. They were going to meetings, they had sponsors, they actually did step work with their sponsors, they kept themselves safe and out of harm’s way. I started doing those things. Today, I still do those things because the people I went behind still kept doing those things and they were staying clean, and I was staying clean as well. Then I became one of those people that have people coming behind me and continue to do the same things I have always done. I go to meetings, I have a sponsor, I do step work with my sponsor, and I keep myself out of harm’s way. Today I have sponsees’ coming in and doing the same things I do to set the same trails I have and people before me have and people before them have. And we stay clean. We stay clean.
There was no magic moment to my recovery or anyone else’s recovery; we just do the damn work because we want to live and we want to be happy and we want to continue living in love and freedom. There is no magic potion to drink and make it all better; that is what we do step work for. There is no easier or softer or quicker way to get past the beginning when you are in the beginning; that is what time, meetings and step work are for. And there are no promises that you will get a new car or house or family; that is not what getting clean means. Our future will be dependent on the work we do in our recovery from going to meetings, putting in the time, and doing step work to the best of your ability.
So, the next time you are going through something and someone who with a lot more clean time gives you a suggestion; try the damn suggestion. We are not talking out of our asses with nothing better to do. We are simply giving you information that we have seen time and time again from people relapsing and/or dying. We are caring enough about you to want you to say clean and alive. There is a period at the end of that sentence because there should be.
I believe once we are clean we make choices. I believe once we are clean, that our lives are then in our hands and choices are then our decisions. I one hundred percent believe that while in active addiction, there are no choices; just needs to be filled. There is only this overwhelming need to stop the pain from hurting and still the mind from thoughts of death. Having said that; when I came into the rooms of recovery and allowed some other thoughts prevail and other feelings arise; well, then I made choices.
Although this may sound harsh, a matter of fact, not what one wants to face; it is still the truth. If I am not willing to work my ass off at least as hard as I did for my drugs in active addiction; then I will not stay in recovery. The minute I decide ‘I got this’; I also have to just as quickly decide ‘I don’t have this’. My recovery does not have any room to play within these rooms of recovery. I have today to continue making the same decisions I do every day to stay in these rooms safely and clean. The moment I start asking questions of myself about others relapsing and making it back to the rooms alive, albeit barely; well then I need to only ask myself only one question. Do I really want to die? My answer never falters with that question. Today, I do not want to die.
And then we come to the crux of this piece, the most important piece of this maze we call life; what happens to us when you relapse? It is then that I get to pray for you not to die. It is then that I get to face the real feelings this brings up in me. I am angry for you going back out to that life to maybe die or worse continue to live in that repetitive hell where you go. I am hurt that there may have been something we could have said to make you stay and didn’t. I am feeling my heart break a little each time you go. These are not your feeling to own, they are mine. They are all mine. The choice I get to make today is allowing myself to care about you and want the best for you and wanting you to stay alive and clean. I make the choice to allow God to put you in front of me with no conditions. I allow my heart to feel all of this and still be right where you left me should you make it back alive. Should you not make it back alive, then I have to be ready to go to your funeral and be okay that you took a piece of my heart with you.
Today, I know that my heart can break pieces off and still remain whole. For those of you out there in my blog land who may not understand what I am saying; well, that is okay because God understands my passion and makes sure my heart will be okay when I give it to you. God always allows me to care without fear of losing my heart when you cannot or do not stay.
If you have gotten even dying wrong and think God hates you and won’t even let you come home with him; well you are so wrong. He is hanging on to you for dear life because he has a plan for you. He is keeping you alive because there are things left for you to do. There is a purpose; you just have to be willing to do the work and put in the time to realize that purpose. It may be as small as living a life clean with your family to as large as helping to save another human’s life.
Now I realize that those of you out there struggling to stay alive, struggling with life itself, struggling with anything in life may think this is all poppycock or bullshit; but having come from where I did to get where I am; I promise you there is no bullshit in any of this. It has not been easy at all at any time as I have worked and continue to work my ass off to stay here in my life where I am today. Just because my struggles are not about staying clean today does not mean I do not have struggles; they are just different struggles I face today. And just because you think my life looks like unicorns and rainbows does not mean that I didn’t have to fight tooth and nail to build from scratch both my unicorns and my rainbows. It does mean I guard them with the fierceness of my soul and the strength of my blood today because they are what came of my recovery. This is what I was willing to do for my recovery.
And as I come to the end of my tirade this week, I am left to add to our commonalities, power. We all have the power in us whether it is the power to live, the power to love, the power to fight, or the power to just stand still. Whether we use that power for good or bad; we do still share amongst us the power.
I leave you with this beautiful thought for the week. I put on my haze colored glasses and everything I see will become orange and positive. Make the week what you want with any color glasses you want. If you enjoyed today’s read; please like, share, follow, and comment. And I will see you on the flipside of the week.