I was softly clanging around on the MIDI keyboard the other night and came up with a couple of melodies. I couldn’t really find any words to go with them so I decided to look up what was in the public domain.
A year or so after I got divorced from my first wife one of our mutual friends said to me, “I’m so sorry that she cheated on you with John.”
Now I always had a gut feeling about that but never knew for sure. Until then.
The moment Heather said it I was just crushed. Even more so because I wasn’t really that close with her, she was just a friend in the restaurant Kathy and I both worked at. Heather had asked me a few minutes before how things were going after the divorce so her words didn’t come out of the blue. But the confirmation was still a stab, twist, gouge to my soul. And then she felt really bad because it was obvious I didn’t know.
After I’d been sober for a number of years I relapsed. It wasn’t something that I thought was gonna happen. And also, it didn’t “just happen” either.
So with that being said I feel qualified, I feel confident, I feel like I’m able to talk about relapse overall. I have experience with it.
I didn’t have any deep, dark, dank secrets. I didn’t hold anything back when writing my Fourth Step and I didn’t hold anything back when sharing my Fifth Step. I made all of the amends on my Eighth Step list. I was more spiritual than I’d ever been my whole life.
So why did I relapse?
Because I quit going to meetings. I quit hanging out with people in recovery and hung out instead with “normal” people. that drank like normal people do. We had a lot in common those “normal” ones, similar interests and so on. We could bond over things I couldn’t with people in the meetings.
And really we alcoholics aren’t that much different from them. I’ve known plenty of “normal” people who had resentments, who’d been plagued with fear their whole life, who felt lost and couldn’t find their way.
Anyways with my relapse, somehow I had convinced myself that I was okay, that me drinking was okay. Plain and simple: I’d lost touch with where I’d came from.
And I write this because I hear people talk who say that the reason alcoholics relapse is because they have reservations. And I think it’s bullshit to say that everyone who’s relapsed didn’t work the steps to their full ability. I’ve heard that in meetings.
And further I’ve known people who have relapsed or were in the midst of a relapse who were and still are more spiritual, more kind, more compassionate and caring then those 20+ year sober guys who think they know it all. And obviously something is lacking in their program if they’re up there pounding their fists at the soapbox about a relapse they never had.
Yes, some people do relapse because there’s a secret that they don’t want to tell or they never found the humility or willingness to make a certain amend or whatever. But that’s not fucking everybody.
Okay, obviously I have some emotion behind this but just to be clear, just because you’ve never relapsed that doesn’t mean that you can come along and tell me that I didn’t do something right the first time. Or that you can make some broad assumption, or borderline accusation against everyone who has relapsed.
Be careful with airs of intolerance or ones of arrogance. They’ll get you in trouble. Further, you’re the authority on your recovery, not mine. And further still, my relapse doesn’t discount my previous recovery. It doesn’t wipe the sobriety slate clean or take away the decade plus I was sober. It only makes my recovery now that much better.
And lastly while I’m picking bones… Who cares if I would have been sober for over 25 years if I hadn’t relapsed. I’m not keeping score. Why are you?