I’ve been ruminating on why some of us relapse and others don’t.
What is it that makes us go back to drinking time and time again even after we swore that this time is the last time? Why do some of us go back to it even after we know we are addicted? Why does it take some of us a million day one’s before we really get it?
I open my eyes, I can’t swallow… my throat is raw. I’m still in last night’s clothes and my one boot is still on. I get a text message through… I’m trying to focus with my one eye but I’m still drunk. “Are you ok lovely?” “You had a couple of fall’s by the school gate”
I’m terrified. I can’t remember anything, last night’s events is a black hole…again. I hobble to the bathroom to assess the damage. There is blood in my hair and my head feels swollen on one side. I have deep bruises on my legs and arms. I try to swallow but I still can’t manage it. I start to cry, gin soaked tears are rolling down my cheeks and the sound I’m making doesn’t sound human. I fall to my knees and start to howl, I am shaking uncontrollably. I can’t fucking do this anymore! I can’t fucking do this anymore! There is nothing left of me. I don’t recognise myself in the mirror, the woman staring back at me has been in a fight, she has been in this fight for years. My face is sweaty red and swollen and my eyes are dead. The woman staring back at me wants to die. I want this fucking pain to end. The kids! …They’ll be better off without you; you’re a fucking disaster. What kind of mother are you? You are a waste of space, a disgusting fucking drunk!
That was the moment.
While I was looking at my reflection and those hateful words were shouting in a furious thunderous voice, somewhere else inside of me there was another voice whispering quietly “This isn’t you…you are SO MUCH MORE THAN THIS”
That was grace.
I’ve had many of those types of moments throughout my drinking career but this one was different. I was finished. I had been fighting with alcohol for decades and I was battle weary, tired to the bone. My soul was screaming out to me…SURRENDER. You don’t have to fight anymore. You don’t have to pretend anymore. Accept! Accept! Accept defeat! Accept that you cannot drink like a normal person.
My story is not a straightforward one, there wasn’t just one singular rock bottom resulting in a trip to recovery land with me riding off into the sunset on my sober horse. I got sober for the first time after I was arrested for public drunkenness, I was 19 . I was a student and I drank the same way my friends did but a bit more greedily. There was neediness to my drinking that my friends didn’t seem to have. I attended one AA meeting at the behest of my mother but there weren’t any young people in there, they were all at the NA meeting next door. The meeting was full of 50 years old men who all looked at me as if I were crazy. They kept on talking about being a ‘true alcoholic’ and they made me feel as if I was too young to be one and as if my antics were expected behaviour from a student. I didn’t go back.
I stayed sober for 5 years, white knuckling it as best as I could. I developed an eating disorder & the bulimia took the place of booze.
I met a man and moved to England where no one knew me and there I started drinking again. I had hoped that I ‘outgrew’ the binge drinking issues and that being older would magically help me to drink moderately. It went ok for a while but the drinking soon got out of hand again.
We started a family, I was sober for the pregnancies but as soon as the stress of motherhood hit, I used it to self medicate. The last 7 years I have been on lengthy sober stretches then relapses. 6 months sober 3 months drinking, 9 months sober…6 months drinking an on and on and on…. until last year when I had my moment of grace.
The reason some of us take longer to get there or go back out there is very simple. It’s a combination of lack of self-love and poor coping skills.
Who in their right mind would allow someone to beat them up over and over? Alcohol is like an abusive partner and the only reason we stay is because we think we are worth nothing. People who respect and honor themselves won’t allow someone to abuse them.
For this first time in my life I am really learning to love myself. Not just the ‘self love’ meme type of thing you see on Instagram (selfie time:)… I mean REALLY love myself. To be able to sit and look at myself with compassion and understanding is the only way I can stay sober.
The link between self-loathing and active addiction is obvious I suppose but I never understood it fully. Its only now with the clarity that sobriety brings that I can truly see that love is the only way.
To love and honor yourself every day. You are a divine being worthy of love. We are all divine beings worthy of love no matter how low this addiction takes us. The light inside of you cannot be touched by anything you ever did under the influence. That light…that is the real you and that is pure love!