I heard a couple of days ago that a relative of mine had started drinking again. I was so sad for her as she had been doing so well. She had been sober for at least three years and I was shocked to hear this news. What made me particularly sad was that she was now telling people, “it’s okay, you can invite me, I am drinking again”. This reminded me of my relapse, I said exactly the same thing.
I had been sober for ten months when I relapsed. I didn’t suddenly one day start to drink again; I had been thinking about it for a while. I had stopped attending AA, although that had been sporadic for a while. I had stopped reading quit lit, I had lost interest in hearing what the writers had to say. I had even stopped following any sober social media groups. I did all of this over a matter of months, I now see that I was planning to drink again.
I had stopped doing the work I needed to do to stay sober and it was starting to impact my sobriety. I was isolating myself from any help that I had been able to look to, and I think I was doing it on purpose.
My thinking patterns had started to change, I was no longer celebrating the fact that I was sober. I was moaning about it and I had lost any enthusiasm for being sober, and instead, I was resentful.
I had also started listening to what others told me. I had started to believe that I hadn’t been so bad, that I was just being a bit dramatic. When others complained I wasn’t drinking or in one case refused to go out with me because I was sober now, it stung. My heart dropped and I wondered why I was putting myself through this.
Although I was still sober, I was no longer happy about it. In the beginning, during the pink cloud phase, I was elated to be free. I was so proud of myself and I also knew that there was no way I could drink again. Those thoughts were now long gone. I was feeling like a bore and the resentment was building.
I had no support contacts I could talk to. Although I had been a member of AA, I had not really made any contacts there. I had actually used some of the shares that I had heard to convince myself that I was not nearly so bad, so it would be fine for me to start drinking again. I only really communicated with people who were drinkers themselves, those who missed me drinking, so of course, the idea that I could just have a couple and stop again if I wished started to creep in.
It had become a joke amongst my friends and family and I about how much I hated sobriety, when asked if I felt better, I would give a resounding no! I made it very obvious that I hated being sober. I was like a petulant child in all honesty.
So of course, it was no surprise when I snapped and decided I could have, ‘just one’ I was with my husband in a very nice hotel, enjoying a cream tea for my birthday. Everyone around me was drinking champagne and I decided that I could have just one, it wouldn’t really matter and at least I knew that I could stop when I wanted to.
That turned out to be the biggest mistake. I did only have one glass that day. However, the next time we went out, I had two glasses and then I started drinking at home and then I was back in active addiction.
I spent the next two years wishing I was back in those ten months and feeling like I would never be there again. Not only that, I was now drinking more than I ever had. It was like my addicted brain knew there was a risk that I would stop again, so it was drinking as much as possible. Those years were really hard and the crushing disappointment that I felt in myself was real.
I have been sober now for almost six months. I am so grateful that I am here again, I honestly didn’t think I would manage to become sober, so this is such a relief to me. I still get those thoughts that I had last time, but I am now acknowledging them and talking about them. I am talking to others in the sober community and I am doing the work.
At this time of year, there will be so many encouragements to have a drink and so many people egging you on. But I promise you, it isn’t worth it. If you start having thoughts about having, ‘just the one’ or drinking now and stopping again in the new year, please don’t ignore them like I did. Please acknowledge them and work on them. It’s really not worth going back there.