Relapse is something all alcoholics are threatened by and in my experience my sobriety was fragile enough to break under pressure. Support can be found in Alcoholics Anonymous, Treatment Centres and Rehabilitation Clinics to prevent relapse through peer group discussion, Addictive Voice Recognition Technique, Psychotherapy etc. However, I’m going to discuss the period of time I experienced wanting to be sober but succumbing to the turmoil and intrusive throughts.
I recall being at a works night out and playing along with the socialising element of it all. At the bar I ordered a lemonade and it was presented to me in a large tumbler with a napkin and a straw. Fucking SMH! I drink pints! I thought as I picked up the glass and turned around to try and engage with somebody I knew. My self esteem was none existent at the time, I needed to get in with a clique because God forbid I might actually spark a conversation with somebody I didn’t know.
I found making small chit-chat at public events excruciating, even when it was meant to be a joyous event. My alcoholic disease wanted me clutching a bottle at home with the curtains closed. A colleague asked me what I was drinking and I told her. “You don’t drink?” I was asked surprisingly. Now at this juncture I think it’s important to add that now I would reply with a confirmation of the query and move on to the next natural course of conversation. On this occasion I wasn’t assertive or confident in who I was or what I was doing. I actually replied, “no I’m not…”, and the pause said it all. “So you’ve got a problem with…?” I was asked as she turned away to speak to somebody else. I don’t think I drank that night but I certainly did at some stage afterwards. I knew where drinking took me and it was never a good place. I wanted acceptance and recognition for making the effort and what I felt was rejection, disillusionment and resentment. All the fellas had pints lined up on the table, similarly the ladies had Mojito cocktails, some of them multiple beverages seeing as though it was a free bar. I was judged with strange looks for staying with soft drinks.
Today is a different scenario entirely when I attend social gatherings. An example of other peoples intolerance for individuals not behaving the way they want them to happened to me at a works Christmas party. I hope you can relate and take some strength in dealing with similar situations you may find yourself in as an alcoholic. I was placed at the table that had a Manager sat opposite me along with other colleagues. Everybody is enjoying the entertainment and we’re having the main course when I’m abruptly asked, “what’s that in your glass?!” I was fucking raging at that point because I’d been drinking lemonade in a wine glass and it wasn’t questioned, but there was only orange juice left apart from the copious amounts of bottled beer stood in ice coolers. I told him, despite it being abundantly clear, that it was orange juice. Then I watched as he put his head in his hands shaking his head disapprovingly. I looked him in the eye and shouted across the music, “I don’t drink”. No explanations or excuses. I know that if I drink I wont stop and chaos will ensue.
The difference between the two situations is the availability of choices. The choice to drink was never afforded to me. I drank in ignorance as it was the solution I knew fit best at that precise time to obtain oblivion and fuck the consequences. I chose to text my sponsor and ask for support. I knew I could go to a meeting. I chose to run through the Serenity Prayer in my mind. I humbly accept I can’t change people, places or things and that includes the Manager’s opinion of my sobriety. I was courageous enough not to wither and walk away or worse still take a drink to gain approval. The wisdom came from previous situations like the one I described where I did succumb to drinking. I was able to identify my shortcomings of not feeling worthy, seeking approval, being insecure, lonely, fearful of rejection etc, and make an informed decision to interact socially on life’s terms knowing I’m an alcoholic and being happy with it.
The concept of surrender worked for me; the only battle you win by giving up. By completed a strong Step 1 with a sponsor I was able to stop fighting, white knuckling and hoping for change without action. The temptation and obsession have now left me and can only be described as miraculous. I achieved 3 years of sobriety on 10th March this year and I look forward to a sober life one day at a time.