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Things I have learned from relapsing

Old 05-14-2018, 07:10 AM
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Things I have learned from relapsing

I have relapsed many times now, sometimes after a couple of days, the first time after nearly 5 years. I wanted to write down, to remind myself of the painful lessons I have learned.

1. I am an alcoholic. No ifs, buts, whys or wherefores. No amount of taking different online tests or comparing myself to how low other people have sunk or lies I tell myself will change that fact. Sure I knew this the first time around but now I REALLY know it and can easily admit it.

2. I will ALWAYS be powerless when it comes to alcohol. I can think to myself that I have had the willpower to quit so why shouldn't that also relate to a willpower to moderate? WRONG! Once I start I have no control whatsoever.

3. It will get worse. Back when I first quit I drank over 100 units a week. Within weeks of relapsing after nearly 5 years I was back to the same level, my body easily adjusting to it. Last week I drank over 200, my new norm. Once upon a time I wouldn't have dreamed of drinking in the morning. Last week I did, every morning.

4. Rock bottom gets progressively lower. Things that would have been unthinkable before my first quit became tolerable. Driving whilst drinking was ok because I was so used to alcohol that it didn't really affect my judgement right? Staying in bed, pretending that I was out on appointments but in reality you are just drinking the day away was a new low. But it was the hopelessness I felt that was worse than anything else. I just kept wandering around muttering to myself "I'm not well".

5. I cannot say "I will never drink again". I said that with confidence and belief during those 5 years. I now know better and will not be so complacent again.

6. The AV NEVER goes away, not even if it has been silent for a very long time, not even if I think I've got it under control. It is always sitting there, waiting for moments of weakness, waiting to drag you back to hell.

I am back on the sober train, hopefully for a very long time, feeling more positive about this quit than I have in years. I will try not to forget any of this.
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:53 AM
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Good points all.

For me, though, there was an added dimension to be learned from relapse: I learned I couldn't solve my alcohol addiction simply by continuing to live the same way except for "fighting the AV." I had to re-train my brain so that alcohol no longer looked like a solution to any of my problems. That took effort and trust on my part -- effort to change the way I look at life and my problems and my reactions to them, and trust that there was a better way out there than what I had envisioned previously.

Nowadays my "AV" still tries to make noise from time to time, but it's merely a paper tiger with no teeth -- my brain has been re-trained so that my conscious self has better methods for coping with life's difficulties than reaching for a drink.
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Old 05-14-2018, 09:05 AM
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5. I cannot say "I will never drink again". I said that with confidence and belief during those 5 years. I now know better and will not be so complacent again.
Very good idea to reflect on your relapses; also, if what you were doing doesn't work, make another plan. The reason I'm sober is that I just don't drink TODAY. How can I know what I'll do in the future?
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Old 05-14-2018, 02:29 PM
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This is all very true for me except #5. I will not drink again. No matter what. for myself the big plan is necessary or in the back of my head, i am still a drinker on a long break.

No cracks in the door! Locked forever. The other side is hell and I don't have to go back there. Biggest blessing of my life.
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Old 05-14-2018, 04:31 PM
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Not ragging on you esy but # 5 is problematic for me too.

I understand it tho

For a long time I saw my addiction as something bigger than me, something that had a will or power of its own and was able to ambush me.

Coming to SR helped me see the inner addict has no arms or legs, no mouth - it needs to co-opt me ( the real, sane sober me ) in order to get the fix it wants.

If I refuse there's nothing it can do about it.
It may shout and cry and wail like a toddler but it will put itself to sleep eventually.

I can also see how you might get cocky and think you have the AV beaten.

I've always said if I was to start thinking of drinking again that would be a sign I'm in trouble because that thought, that desire, will not be coming from my rational brain.

But it's all abstract now

After 11 years recovery I know I will not drink again.
I love my life and I love sober me.

For me there is no situation that dire that drinking again could possibly help.

D
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:07 PM
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Thanks all - looks like we've got different opinions on #5. Not a problem and I am happy for you. We are all individuals and I sincerely hope that you are right. I guess from a personal point of view I was trying to say that I thought I had it cracked. I totally believed I would never drink again. Then a series of personal crises turned that on its head and the years I had in the bag meant nothing.

Who knows what the future holds? Hopefully sobriety for the remainder of my life and I am now 100% prepared to work on that but I cannot say for certain. If pain came knocking again to the same degree then I know exactly where my thoughts would turn.

Maybe you have a good point Andante. When I first read your comments I thought - well I did re-train my brain. A celebration no longer had to be greeted with a drink. I had other ways of dealing with bad days. As I watched my Mum die, I coped. But when some really bad and unexpected stuff came - it was a game changer. Those carefully laid plans, those well thought out responses, that mind I believed that had changed - not one of them made the slightest bit of difference. Maybe I hadn't re-trained enough?

Hopefully I will never have to deal with any days like it again but I repeat - who knows?

All I can say now is....I will not drink this minute, this hour, this day. I no longer look any further ahead.
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:13 PM
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I don't recommend re-drinking to anyone. Going back to being a drunk is a special kind of hell.
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Old 05-15-2018, 08:04 AM
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"If pain came knocking again to the same degree" I wouldn't want to add more pain.

Drinking isn't soothing, healing or comforting. It's pain, humiliation, loss of control and destruction.

I suppose I don't see that I'm giving up something that would help with any kind of pain, no matter how bad it the pain is, I'm increasing it by adding alcohol.

I guess I don't get the painkilling effects with it anymore that a lot of people get, it's possible my alcoholism progressed past that point. I turn into a raging lunatic who can't think for herself, not a good way to get past grief.

But... "I known where my thoughts would turn," is allowing yourself a hall pass for grief. Even after five years.
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Old 05-15-2018, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Stayingsassy View Post
"If pain came knocking again to the same degree" I wouldn't want to add more pain.
True - let's hope I can think differently next time. Because it has led to more pain.

It doesn't mean that I'm giving myself a free pass - I think you're missing my point. At no point am I thinking - well if that happened again, I would just drink. I am thinking that if that happened again - I now know that no matter how many years I have, the urge to drink will still be there and I have to remain conscious of that for the rest of my days.

My point was that I was complacent and thought I had it totally under control. I was wrong. That is my lesson learned and that is why I will never say it again. But I will say I will not drink today :-)
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Old 05-15-2018, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by esymarieb View Post
My point was that I was complacent and thought I had it totally under control. I was wrong.
Most of us had similar thoughts - i know I did, several times. Accepting once and for all that drinking even one sip is never an option was what set me free.
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Old 05-15-2018, 10:17 AM
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Yeah, maybe taking any drinking thoughts that come up as cause for alarm instead of entertaining the thoughts. Where did that thought come from, I need to get that out there, get some support, talk to other alcoholics and get that sorted out.

I have to remind myself where I came from by coming here. If I didn't have this, id be in a group. I think for me it's important to know who I am. My drinking is different than others around me who drink, my drinking is alcoholic. I come here and see others with the same kind of drinking I had. I dont see that in my life very often. I have to be reminded.
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Old 05-15-2018, 05:28 PM
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Thanks all - looks like we've got different opinions on #5. Not a problem and I am happy for you. We are all individuals and I sincerely hope that you are right. I guess from a personal point of view I was trying to say that I thought I had it cracked. I totally believed I would never drink again. Then a series of personal crises turned that on its head and the years I had in the bag meant nothing.
I'm happy for you too LOL.

My point is/was that I believe I'll never drink again - I believe there is nothing or noone that can force my hand on that - but I back that up with action.

Just telling myself I'll never drink again, and precious little else, is about as useful as walking around mumbling 'rhubarb'.

I think we both agree on that?

D
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Old 05-15-2018, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by dee74 View Post
just telling myself i'll never drink again, and precious little else, is about as useful as walking around mumbling 'rhubarb'.

I think we both agree on that?
100%
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:55 AM
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This is great thread.

I totally get where you are coming from. Saying never can in its own way lead to complacency. Because you have "decided" no need to be as vigilent. Not conciously, subconciously.

I love these discussions because at around 3 years I realize that I could be complacent. I could forget.

Your post reminds me why I wont.

Thank you.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Dee74 View Post
I'm happy for you too LOL.

My point is/was that I believe I'll never drink again - I believe there is nothing or noone that can force my hand on that - but I back that up with action.

Just telling myself I'll never drink again, and precious little else, is about as useful as walking around mumbling 'rhubarb'.

I think we both agree on that?

D
Dee - how did you arrive at the "belief" v just telling yourself? AA, or another method?
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Old 05-16-2018, 05:06 AM
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Partially I know because I've been through a lot of things over my years sober Briansy.

Some good, some very bad.

Most of them would have seen me drinking before 2007 - but I've worked hard to build a sober life I love, I worked hard to solve my problems and deal with emotions without drinking and I've worked hard to keep my relationships and my support fresh new and meaningful.

Somewhere in the second year I realised that I'd fundamentally changed - the old fear and the old need to escape had gone.

Alcohol and drugs held no power over me anymore.

I can cheerfully say I'll never drink or drug again - it's not a problem solver, it's not a grief counsellor.

I have no need to escape my life. I'm happy with who I am and how I live and I have no need for mood stabilisers or anaesthetic.

I have ups and downs like anyone but I have faith the ups always prevail.
I have meaning and purpose.

I accept that my relationship with alcohol is toxic and always will be.
I have 20 years of raw data to attest to that truth.

I'll never forget where drinking took me - only a madman would risk that again - and I'm no longer mad

There's nothing so bad I can think of where I'd drink again.

I'd be denying the last eleven years.

I'd be denying the effect I know it has on those who love me, and I'd be denying everything I've said in 160 thousand odd posts.

I'm not that much of a hypocrite - I couldn't be.

I got this brand new amazing life - and all I had to give up was alcohol.

Good deal

D
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:48 PM
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👏👏👏 excellent post Dee.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Dee74 View Post
Partially I know because I've been - but I've worked hard to build a sober life I love, I worked hard to solve my problems and deal with emotions without drinking and I've worked hard to keep my relationships and my support fresh new and meaningful.
D
I echo what Dee is saying here.
A brilliant life is available.
A moment for me was being able to go into my local shop in the afternoon and chat with the owner without him smelling booze and judging me. We talk as equals now. It's a small thing but for me it was significant.
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Old 05-17-2018, 01:08 AM
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Great post Dee
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