Imperfect Sobriety

Old 05-21-2013, 08:02 AM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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I cringe at the word perfection. But I think I get what you are saying and what it means to you.

I think part of my cringe stems from the fact the that I had multiple active addictions when I first got into recovery. It was shockingly disappointing and surprising to me how little my life improved when I stopped drugging and drinking. I white knuckled it "perfectly" for awhile. But I was still all sorts of a mess.

I respect that relapse is not part of many people's recoveries, and that ultimately I had to stop acting out on my addictions in order to grow in recovery. So ultimately yes, I have to be perfect in my commitment to not use again. But I was unable to separate "using" in one area from using in another.
So maybe that is why "perfection" means something else, or why I feel intimidated by it when it pertains to my recovery.

I'd get clean in one area and ramp up using in another. Relapse came in many forms for me. I could stop drinking and it still wasn't perfect. Even when I did relapse, I wasn't merely chasing my tail, I was figuring out, discovering and coming to terms with how addiction played out in my life, and what ultimately it was going to take to address it.

I guess what I am getting at is for me, not drinking perfectly and calling it recovery amounts to me putting my fingers in my ears and singing "la la la la, I'm doing perfectly well"

I know that is NOT what you are saying, I am just commenting in my reaction to the term "perfect" not disagreeing with your point.
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:26 AM
  # 22 (permalink)  
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It's a fine line, isn't it? Feeling that you have to be perfect in your sobriety amps up the pressure, but at the same time, "allowing" yourself to be imperfect kinda cracks the door to a slip, or a relapse, or whatever you want to call it.

Maybe the key is knowing ourselves well enough to know whether, in any given moment or on any given day, our sobriety is best served by putting a little extra pressure on ourselves, by pushing ourselves, or whether it's a day to take a deep breath and ease up a bit. For myself, I think my sobriety is best served by different kinds of motivation at different times. Sometimes a positive, inspiring story motivates me to make the best choices. Other times, watching or reading an account of someone dying or suffering a horrible consequence of consuming alcohol really gets my attention and reminds me that I don't ever want that to be me.
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:46 AM
  # 23 (permalink)  
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I think it is important to give ourselves credit where it is due... Periods of abstinence are great. That said....

I learned the most about myself when I REALLY wanted a drink and did not have it. That is where I gained my confidence. Slips here and there just undermined my confidence.

I was the "relapse queen" for a long time and what that did was convince me I was not capable of quitting. Now I am learning that is not true.

It is funny you talk about the calendar with the colored squares. I used to keep a calendar by my bed and put an X on everyday I didn't drink and fill in the box on days I did. I was very happy at the end of the month when I had more X's then filled in days. That was my goal back then. As my goal changed I no longer do that.

I can only live in "the now" though. If I allowed myself to relapse tomorrow then would I be a failure? Well, I would have failed at my goal but, there are many other aspects to my life that I would be successful at. Also I definitely agree that you have to keep trying NO MATTER WHAT.
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Old 05-21-2013, 03:00 PM
  # 24 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by littlefish View Post
How about using some new vocabulary? I don't really equate my sobriety to perfection. Perfection implies, to me at least, reaching a perfect state, that it's done, a static, unchanging thing. I have found that sobriety is far from perfect, is a changing, growing and definitely not a static thing.

I keep growing in sobriety. Like an explorer discovering a new land, I keep wandering into new, amazing environments I couldn't have dreamed of. I trip and stumble, too, though.

I also understand relapsing. It took me about 2.5 years to get sober. Lots of relapsing. I don't look back on my relapsing as failing. Even though I defined it that way at the time. Looking back, I define it as "not getting it" yet.

Ultimately it didn't boil down to a battle between self-control, giving up or being disciplined. It was more about having a profound mental change, a psychic change when I truly equated alcohol with poison, on a deeply personal and emotional level. Not just on the intellectual level.

Sure, I repeated to myself hundreds of times on the intellectual level that I couldn't drink because I cannot process alcohol like normal people, but I didn't truly believe it. The thinking remained on the logical level, open to tweaking and tinkering and discussion. I had to reach the state of belief: having a profound change of my basic values and my perception of myself as someone who is not quite normal, and then embraced that.

I guess the vocabulary word I might suggest instead of perfection is "growth".
Thanks for sharing your experience Littlefish. In my early days (3 months today), while I'm proud etc, I do feel its all surface and that there is an underlying issue that I'm not facing - not having "profound mental change, a psychic change when I truly equated alcohol with poison, on a deeply personal and emotional level"

I could not put what it was into words, but reading your post enlightened me to what is missing. I know without that profound mental change, I could easily relapse. I'm working on getting that! Shame you cant just make it happen, but I can see it takes time/growth etc. I'll stick it out and cant wait to get there. Well put. Thank you
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Old 05-21-2013, 03:35 PM
  # 25 (permalink)  
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My stumbling block for a long time was an inability to face up to lifelong sobriety. I think dealing with relapses is a difficult tight-rope. We must never be drawn away from hope into despair, but I equally don't think we should see it as part of recovery (because it is the opposite). My personal experience makes me wary of being happy at drinking less or drinking on fewer days because I learned that was not sustainable for me and it held me back from truly embracing abstinence.

That's just my experience though.
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Old 05-21-2013, 03:38 PM
  # 26 (permalink)  
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Day 626 and i can attest to alcohol being a poison ,
I bought rum and rasin ice cream (not my usual brand) rather than flavouring it was real (4 % rum after reading the label ! ) . i only noticed this after scoffing half a pint and being violently ill.. it's 3 hours later and although i'm not being sick anymore i still feel a bit off .

Bestwishes, M
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