I read a post the other day that was the inspiration for this post. The post had little to do with alcoholism, per se, but it had everything to do with relapse.
I’ve managed to accumulate 28 years of sobriety in recovery – complete abstinence. I’ve chosen this lifestyle because it’s not what I used that was important, it’s why (as my wife likes to say).
I don’t have to dabble in the mental masturbation of “what if” I could partake in alcohol like a normal person because pondering “what if” always ends the same way; with me spiraling out of control toward death, a mental institution, or a ditch. Using is like a tractor beam of shit for me. Every single time, no matter what I try or how I try it.
And there’s one simple reason that explains the “why” of it. Let’s just say you came out with a magic pill that its makers proclaimed could turn alcoholics into normal drinkers, where we could have a couple of drinks and be happy, going about our daily lives as normal folk do. First, congratulations, you’re an instant billionaire. Second, what does a real alcoholic say as they’re about to swallow that magic pill?
“Oh yeah, I’m taking this pill and I’m gonna get wasted! Who’s the designated driver?!”
Folks, you just can’t turn that off with a pill. You can’t hope to turn it off with self-knowledge. You can’t hope to turn that off with drugs or alcohol. The only outcome is one is too many and too many is not enough.
To recover and live a decent life, I had to learn how to stop fighting the desire to destroy myself. I learned that the only way to recover was to put that desire in an unlocked cage in my mind and as long as I don’t tempt it, it stays in that cage. Over time, it learns its place and as long as I don’t introduce mood or mind-altering substances to my body, alcoholism is maintainable and the happy life I’ve always wanted is not only possible, its acquisition is quite simple and straightforward.
If I try to alter that arrangement, though, all bets are off. I’m cooked before I’m even buzzed. I know this, because I’ve already tried everything else. Nothing is as powerful as that hellish tractor beam if I use. Not love, not happiness, not contentment… I can’t turn off that need to escape and get wasted. It’s impossible.
For me, the key to victory is learning to not fight who I am. I mustn’t fight what I am. King alcohol had kicked my ass and brought me to my knees. I have to crush any idea that I can drink like a normal person. By working at (and for) recovery, I can win, one day at a time. I have come to find a new freedom and happiness. I know peace. All of which I thought were out of my grasp.
I know one thing for sure: I can remain in recovery for today. It’s my only chance at a happy life.
Or, I can relapse, and I can have all of my misery back.