As I sit here right now, in this moment, I am feeling secure in my sobriety. 11 days. 11 days feels good. I feel good. However, at the same time there is an uncomfortable feeling of fear gnawing at me. A fear that I will not be able to maintain my sobriety long term. ….or short term for that matter. This disease of addiction is so hard to overcome, or even get a handle on sometimes.
I have tried so many times to live my life abstaining from alcohol. I know this is the best choice for me. It is my only choice if I want to live my life as my best self. But I have tried so many times, I am wondering if I will ever be able to live my life without feeling the need to drink alcohol. This thought scares me. My addiction has me mentally chained with fear. ‘Will I ever figure out what will keep me from returning to the drink?…and if not, what will become of me?’
I entered into my last recovery attempt strong. I was trying different things. I approached it with a new spirituality practice that I did not have in previous attempts. I was reaching out to others in recovery and attending 12 step meetings. I was reading recovery books. I was keeping a journal. I was listening to recovery podcasts. I was doing things to help manage my anxiety and being actively aware of how my anxiety can feed my addiction. I was engaging in physical exercise. I was switching up my daily routine and trying to keep myself busy during typical craving times. I started drinking warm tea to replace alcohol…and I was really enjoying this treat!
I was doing so much….trying so hard to overcome this addiction to alcohol I know I have living in my brain. I was trying SO VERY HARD.
And then the exhaustion came. Slowly, over time, I found myself sputtering out, like a marathon runner who starts off the race in a strong sprint, and half way through runs out of steam. So, after a few weeks, when the cravings came, I was feeling mentally exhausted and was having a hard time managing them. I slowly started to feel overwhelmed by my addiction, as I had felt many times in the past. The cravings and desire to drink would not seem to go away. I was using all the recovery tools I had, but I was still struggling.
Then, on Christmas Day, about 1.5 months without a drink, I saw my husband (who is not in recovery, but was supporting me by not drinking), have a glass of wine at dinner. Well, in a split second decision…I did too. And then I had another, and then another, and when the wine was gone I started sneaking hard alcohol and got drunk.
Fear…. now I am afraid that no matter how many tools I have in my recovery tool box, no matter what I do, or how hard I try, or how aware I try to be of all my triggers, I will not be able to overcome this addiction I have to alcohol.
I have tried, this go around, to figure out what went wrong last time, and what I can do different this time. You know, at this point I don’t think I am even going to try to problem solve it. What I think I am going to do however, is attempt to be kind to myself, be gentle. Maybe not put so much pressure on myself. Maybe not do too much recovery stuff at once. Reach out to others in recovery when I am struggling. Maybe take some quiet time and slow my breathing when I start to get overwhelmed by cravings.
It is clear in my mind that this journey is not going to be a short one. Living in fear during this journey will not help my quest. Learning how to live without that fear is still a lesson I have yet to learn. I am hopeful it will come.