Returning After Relapse
Relapse is not a death sentence
Returning from a relapse can be a terrifying life event for a recovering addict or alcoholic. Quite possibly as terrifying of a life event as we may ever have to face in our recovery. The infamous relapse tends to fill us again with the all too familiar feelings of guilt, shame, and failure. The ego gets bruised, battered, and at times completely torn in half. Self – esteem plummets to an all-time low and our perception of self and the one-time confidence we had in ourselves and our recovery can change drastically after this unfortunate event occurs.
Believe me, I know, I have been trying to string together something that resembles long – term recovery now for the past almost 22 years. That is not even slightly exaggerated either I wish it was. I had almost two years of continuous clean time a couple years back but have struggled since reclaiming that time although I am getting close and victory will ultimately be mine. I say that though so you know this article is being written by one who is a chronic relapser and is sharing his experiences and what he has learned on this topic from 20+ years of firsthand experience.
So, what do we do after we relapse? How do we explain to family members and friends that we really are trying and that this was never a part of our plan. How is that we should view ourselves after this so-called lapse in our recovery program shatters all hope that many have given us to recover this time? Let me try and answer a few of those questions. Not with statistical facts or scientific theories, but with the knowledge that I have gained from my own personal experience. It is my sincerest hope that what I have to say in this article will benefit one of you. If even only one can take what I write here and have it help them into finding their way back into recovery then this was an enormous success.
Avoid the pitfalls
First off please do not fall into the trap of comparing your recovery to another person’s. Recovery is a very individual process that we are going through it is my opinion that although similar at times that nobody recovers in the same exact way as another. If that is true then how can comparison help? I believe that we may all suffer from the same affliction but that the level we suffer from it at can vary widely depending on many varied factors. Your recovery is yours and taking advice from those who have been in similar situations is helpful and highly recommended by many but you must remember that what worked for another may not work for you.
Secondly, be gentle with yourself my friend, beating yourself up over what has already happened does you no good in the long run. It is self-defeating and can keep you feeling depressed, guilty, and shameful much longer than you ever needed to be. You need to simply recognize the fact that you made a mistake, look for where the possible weakness was in your recovery and once identified either through your own intuition or with the help of some experienced folks in your recovery circle. You simply get up, wipe the dust off your jeans and begin moving forward again. Remember the past is the past let it stay there, set your sites on the prize of your new clean and sober life out there in front of you and start for it. One little step at a time and if you fall down and go boom again, it is ok it is always going to be ok if you’re willing to get back up and keep marching forward.
This is a war we are in my friends and in war you do not win every battle but if you win enough of them victory will be yours!
On that note
Lastly the family, friends, and loved ones who may or may not still support you after a relapse. This is a tough one because God how I know it hurts when your family finally out of self-preservation usually not a lack of love decides they are getting off our recovery roller coaster ride once and for all because their poor hearts just can’t take it anymore. Sometimes they do this gracefully and sometimes it is done with much bitterness, but this I have learned you cannot control how they feel and or how they are going to react to a relapse especially if they have been through many before as you have tried to recover. All you can do is as respectfully, and gently as possible apologize and let them know that you are trying whether they still think so or not and that you want them to still be a part of your journey and you start marching forward again in hopes that they will follow.
I have found from my experience that even those who left me and my recovery alone after one of my relapses saying, “ah he is not even serious about this and I’m not supporting his half ass efforts anymore” that once you make some progress again and for some it may take considerable progress that they will eventually come back and support you again. They will explain that it was never because they did not love you that they left but because it just hurt their hearts to damn bad every time you fell. That is what happened for me anyways and I believe with all my heart that for most of you the results with time, hard work, and lots of effort will be similar as well.
Surround yourself with those who believe in you, you need to be lifted up not torn down. Find people who have made it through your struggle successfully and latch on to them like life preservers in hopes they can assist you in making it this time. You can do this, we can do this! And as I always like to say it is a we thing you all because
“Alone we don’t stand a chance, but together, we can change the world.”
About the Author: Marc is a 48-year-old Author, Speaker, and Soldier in a war to loosen the grasp that Substance Abuse has on our society. He is a Father, Son, and friend to all those seeking refuge from this incorrigible disease. Marc resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where he enjoys, writing, hiking, and kicking the disease of addiction in the teeth, every chance he gets. As Marc always likes to say, “be blessed, my friends!” Check out Marc’s number 2 ranked sobriety blog at https://recoveryunsensored.wordpress.com/blog/