Two years, one month, and four days. Feels like yesterday when I quit drinking. I find it interesting at how surprised people react when I tell them I nearly relapsed over my vacation. I mean, two years - that's not that long ago. Not really.
I decided to take some of the advice that I've been spreading around, and actually begin talking. It's very unlike me to say much of anything to anyone (mostly because I hate how it makes me feel), but I've been telling people about it anyway. And I get one of two reactions; wide eyed shock, or dead silence. It's only been two years, what's the surprise? Although that is one hell of an accomplishment, it's only two years. I've heard people in various groups state that it has taken them many more years to get passed it, and even then they questioned whether or not they were. Some even explain that they made if four times longer, only to come back to twenty-four hours.
What I find interesting isn't that I came so close. I'm not sure how to explain this…
I didn't crave the alcohol. Not once. There was another force driving me to the state of insanity. It was in the search to quell that fire that I found myself in the bar. I had many other plans that day, MANY. But I became so consumed with myself, I lost focus. Scary, scary thing for an alcoholic to do.
I dread the idea of talking the particulars over with anyone outside of my counselor, and even writing this now, I’m afraid. Especially because my actions were EXACTLY the same as when I was active in my alcoholism. The time, the money, the drive to get what I wanted.
But it wasn’t alcohol.
Over my two years, I've been taught to use various tools and to dig deep, mostly thanks to my counselor, and understand why I used to do the things I did. No one ever told me that those same tools could be used on demand and right on the spot, but I found myself doing exactly that. Questioning why I was where I was currently at. What did I need? What was I attempting to fix or bury? What is causing me this pain and/or fear that I was trying to cover up, or erase? Interestingly, I knew. I think we all know why we're there, really. We just push it down and stuff it. It is easier and less work to just cover the fire and leave the coals.
So, what was it, then?
I had actually considered sitting down to have a glass of water. Ya. Water. Right. We all know where that ends up. I'm sure a large majority of us have read the stories. I certainly did. And that wasn’t what I wanted. Not at all.
No, instead, my drive came from a much deeper urgency, a hollowness, a desperation. I wanted that to go away. So how? Believe me, many, many things crossed my mind. None of which would have solved the problem, and thankfully, none of it happened. I am eternally grateful for that, nonetheless, the determination and drive was one hundred percent identical to when I used to reach for my alcohol.
So I don't know why anyone would be surprised by my actions. It seems reasonable that an alcoholic, wet or dry, would reach for the one thing they’ve always used to soothe themselves in the past - unless they've been taught some good tools.
I’m not sure if they are shocked because because I came close to relapse, or if it is because I didn’t. I can’t tell. What I do know is that it is a good reminder to them that 1) Relapse is around the corner, we just have to make sure we choose the correct turn, and 2) It is possible to face those challenges, use the tools we’ve learned, and to walk away without killing ourselves. But let me tell you this - I never want to go through that hell again. Ever.