Getting sober wasn’t easy, it took me about 18 months until I finally had that last drink and was able to live this new journey clean. I made many 30 days, many almost 60 days, went to treatment, went to AA and made hundreds of meetings. I managed to stay in the wagon for seven months, ran a marathon at 8000+ feet of altitude and right then, when I was feeling the best I had ever felt in years, I relapsed, and it was a bad one.
How did it happen? It is devastating; it crushes your soul. Destroys your hope; it’s humiliating, I was in a terrible place. I Didn’t see myself with a chance to make it; it was when it finally clicked in my head, I had been “trying” to get sober for one year and a half. I read the big book so many times, shared, went to meetings, studied, worked out, ate and lived healthily and yet, here I was biting the dust again. After all this time my mind went back to the very beginning of my recovery, the first step. I read it every single day during all this time: WHO cares to admit complete defeat? Nobody, not me for sure. This was it for me; I had nothing else, I was empty, broken-hearted, wholly defeated; that was the end of that and the beginning of a new life. It was right there, written since I started coming but took me so long to get it; I was finally going to make it.
I know that for me that was the moment I got the gift when I let go of my ego, I stopped trying to find a way of my own, quit rationalizing or understanding the whys and just accepted surrender and started to pay attention.
Relapse sounds inexplicable, many times I just wasn’t able to see it coming, it just happened and was stronger than me; took me by surprise. It came from nowhere and struck me from behind. Well, not really, that was my reasoning back then because I couldn’t see further than my little world of addiction allowed me to see. It was the same way for everything else in my life; I was unable to pay my business rent or taxes on time. I never made it on time, or I missed my daughter’s presentations in her classes or festivities the kids put on for their parents. Was late or will miss my daughter’s school open classes or festivals. I wasn’t able to send an email with a catering proposal, I even stop cooking and serving my customers. Addiction had me; it owned my life and all that matters to me. But this didn’t happen like magic as I thought, this is not a sudden event, this had been growing for a while, this had been cooked because I was missing work in my recovery.
I want to be healthy, I want to be ok, I don’t want to be sick. I don’t want to be an addict, I never wanted to grow to be an alcoholic, to lose control and even today I wish I wouldn’t be who I am sometimes, I would like to believe there is a cure or that addiction doesn’t exist, that it is all bullshit. That I can learn new things and I can live a healthy life and be able to stop as other people do. I would like to have a glass of wine with my dinner (damned, I am a chef) as my wife does. I would like to have a half shot of tequila on Sundays as my mom does. I want to believe that everything is possible and I don’t have to be an addict.
I hear this all the time from different people everywhere I am. I go there myself, but I know today that yes, this is normal, this happens, but I understand that this is the making of a relapse in my future if I don’t pay attention if I forget who I am and how I got here.
My life has changed, I live in the present. I am getting my life back every day a little more, we outgrew our location, and the restaurant is more prominent and busier, and I am cooking again, I have a better relationship with my daughter, and hopefully one day, I will have one with my son. I have been researching with Renata about College applications, she took the SAT and we are getting ready to move to AZ next fall, we are starting this adventure together and we both will be starting a new life and with the similar challenges and this is bringing us closer and stronger. I will watch her grow to become a woman as I improve myself to be a better human being. Would I jeopardize all this just to find a cure for myself? Just to be able to have a drink? Only to be able to fix me? It is not, it doesn’t mean something to me anymore, today it is just a drink, and I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t care for it. I don’t fear to come into a bar or hang out with people who can enjoy a few either; it is just not for me.
I am not in search of perfection but progress, I am human and had made mistakes and will surely make many more. So it is possible that I may have doubts from time to time, that I wish I weren’t different but when that happens, I have to recognize that this is my danger zone, this is the ingredients, and I have to pay attention. We didn’t become addicts in one day nor were able to get sober in one day either, and we won’t fall back into it either in one day.
Relapse comes from nowhere; it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t hit us from behind, we cook it, we allow it to get in. Relapse is not an option. Remember, EASY DOES IT.