Relaxed (past) – “Don’t quit before the miracle happens.” – phrase used in AA.
I distinctly remember the first time I decided I wasn’t going to go to meetings for a while and didn’t know if I was going to come back after I gave birth.. I was VERY pregnant, sitting in a meeting with my legs spread wide open and a human being beating the shit out of my insides. I was done. I was done being pregnant and I was done with AA.
My meeting attendance in early recovery was relatively consistent due to the fact that I needed signatures. After A2 was born, I went on my terms. I was now 3+ years without a drink and back to my recreational usage of MJ. I still harbored the same resentments towards AA and remained one foot in, one foot out. I simply wasn’t ready to work on myself because I didn’t think I had to.
I was self-will run riot and unwilling to accept what I couldn’t change (people, places and things) or have the courage to change what I could (myself!) and God wasn’t having it. My relaxed recovery was about to get an overhaul and I had no idea it was going to look how it does today.
But God did and stuff had to happen first.
In August of 2017, I hit a wall that brought me to my knees, only this time, I wasn’t drinking. In the months that followed, I was living in a perpetual emotional hangover that gave me the desperation I needed to hand my will back over to God.
You wanna know what happened, don’t you? I know, I know, I would too. Fine, I’ll tell give you the condensed, vague version in the form of…that’s right…a list:
- Certain aspects of my existence had become unmanageable.
- I started to pray and meditate like my life depended on it…because it did.
- I saw the need for change and decided it was officially time I defect from AA, announced it in a private recovery group on social media, and sought professional help for my outside issues that had nothing to do with drinking.
- Considered drinking AT my issues a couple of times and went to a meeting right away instead.
- One of those times was when I decided to tell a bunch of strangers one of my BBS’s and walked away with a glimmer of hope for my place in AA.
- Confessed to women I DID know in a house meeting and walked away with even more hope; enough to compel me to seek out a temporary sponsor while I “figured it out.” The woman I asked said yes under conditions I wasn’t willing to adhere to.
- Attended meetings off and on, getting more and more annoyed at the “all or nothing” mentality, suggesting that people in recovery are not really sober if they are using marijuana – medicinally or recreationally – and that they would need to start their date over if/when they decided to quit.
- Started this blog and was doing recovery without a sponsor or meetings, using all the tools I had learned in AA the past 6 years (as of March 30th, 2018) and was still in therapy.
- Found a private FB community and support group for people who also use cannabis in recovery – recreationally and as a harm reduction tool.
- Things happened that would not allow me to close the door on AA for good. For example, I found out that the maid of honor I talk about in Skeletons 1.9 had been reading my blog and that she’s ALSO in the program. Are you kidding me!? She instantaneously became Birdie #6. B6, you know WTF you are.
- Was met with nothing but support when I told her about my BBS. That same day, B3 strongly encouraged me (again) to stop judging myself and come back to the rooms.
- 2 days later, after a long sabbatical from meetings, I got honest in my former home group and claimed my seat; offering to be of service in any way that I could and that I was praying for a sponsor.
Can you guess what happened next?
I’ll give you a hint…
Relapse #3: I don’t remember what I had but I want to say it was another ½ mini-box of wine? Or maybe 2 mini bottles from a 4 pack? Weird I don’t know specifics because this was the least I had drank of all the relapses since my DUI. Hubs came home earlier than expected. Since it was such a small amount, I really didn’t think he’d notice.
But he did. He asked. I lied.
H: “Why do I not believe you?”
P: I don’t know because I haven’t.
H: Okay then. Let’s go to your car and you blow in your breathalyzer.
P: (yep, I’m screwed) Okay, let’s go.
H: (sigh) nooo, it’s alright, I guess I believe you.
ANOTHER bullet dodged and man, was I sweating! I decided right then and there that I couldn’t risk it again because the next consequence would be him leaving me – even though he never once said that he would.
See, that’s where my brain can go sometimes. Immediately to the worst case scenario with nothing to back it up. Like a hypochondriac (which I can also admit that I am to some extent) thinks they are at death’s door when they experience unfamiliar symptoms they cannot explain, I was foretelling the death of my marriage. It’s just so dramatic (eye roll).
I decided I’d wait a while. I’d complete the 6 week outpatient rehab program, the dust would settle and I’d drink again when it fizzled into something we just didn’t talk about. You know, sweep it under the rug like it never happened. Story of my life.
But I haven’t.
My new date was now March 30th, 2012 and has remained that date ever since. I am now 8 years sober from alcohol.
Relapse (past): The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death. (BB, Chapter 3, pg. 30)
Here’s the bottom line: I don’t remember my very first sobriety date because I wasn’t done drinking. All of the harsh consequences I had already brought upon myself weren’t enough to convince me I was a real alcoholic. I still needed more proof, hence the final 3 legit relapses and I will relive all 3 of them for you today in a series of 3 posts.
Relapse #1: I talk about it in My Recovery Rewind – Part 2 and Skeletons 1.9. It was a basically a true “relapse before the relapse” situation. I had just gotten 30 days prior to a wedding weekend. When I was handed that token, my mind was already in Bend, OR, fighting off that trigger that I knew I wasn’t going to even try fighting.
I wasn’t excited about it. I didn’t rush home to show H or text pictures of it to my family or friends. I was also terrified of anyone knowing about it that weekend because, well, a) my prideful, alcoholic brain didn’t want them to judge me but more importantly b) if they knew, they’d try to tell me not to drink and I couldn’t have that. But at the end of the day, it didn’t matter. I had relapsed in my mind before crossing state lines.
H did tell our friends, I still hid it, I still got caught. I said I had one mimosa and I stuck to that story – with my sponsor, my counselor and everyone else who I told. If you already read the posts mentioned above, you know that was not truthful at all and I still can’t believe I drove after the reception.
My new date was now March 18th.
Revealed: It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. (BB, pg. 85)
I remember the first time I learned that smoking pot was a no no in the rooms of AA. I was sitting in a meeting watching a woman take a 1 year token after “smoking a little weed” when she had 11 years of sobriety. I distinctly remember a part of her share when she received the coin and it went SOMETHING like this:
“I really don’t want to be taking this token but my sponsor is making me.”
I thought it was ridiculous that a woman with long term sobriety would be “told” she had to start over. I still do and that’s why I kept my “marijuana maintenance” a secret for so long.
Revealing my chosen recovery path here isn’t the first time I have “outed myself.” I came clean to 3 friends a few years ago and their response was this:
“So? The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking.”
I couldn’t believe my ears and was really happy they were so accepting. It was a game changer for me and I started going back to meetings. But not regularly. Even though no one else in the program knew, I still felt like an outcast and “not worthy” to be an active member of AA. Down deep, I really did want to be “a part of” but I was convinced I wouldn’t be accepted if I fully “got honest.” I felt like a fraud and it was killing me inside. I could NOT let go of the idea that I didn’t belong because I WAS doing it “my way” and if they knew, they’d shun me. Why?
I was IN self and entering the danger zone, distancing myself further and further from the program.
I’ve heard countless times that people who smoke weed in recovery end up leaving AA altogether and eventually turn to the drink when life gets really hard. And guess what…
…it did. I left AA and then shit got real. And guess what…
…the thought to drink DID occur to me a handful of times. But did I?