A friend relapsed. It pains me to see this because I Know what it feels like. Despite the fact that addiction is a DISEASE we are fighting, we are hounded by our own negative judgments of ourselves. “I should know better,” “I am worthless,” “I can’t do anything right,” “I should be able to control it better.” At some level, some of us even convince ourselves that others believe these things to be true about us too.
The fact is that recovery – a life-long process – teaches us that ‘control’ has nothing to do with it. In fact, it is the very thought that we somehow can ‘control it’ that drives many of us to relapse. It is also the fact that many of us end up despairing over so many things we simply can’t control. We get depressed and our thoughts end up backing up, like a toilet, in our heads. That last part is largely what drove me to relapse in 2012.
Part of my despair for my friend is my own issues of control. I can’t control what other people choose to do, and even though it’s the disease exerting itself over us, there is a certain amount of choice involved in taking that first drink. Another AA friend says they believe that we plan each and every relapse. It’s in our heads before we actually act on it. I believe this is true. I was planning my relapse – even if it was in my sub-conscious – for years before it happened. The closer I got to the actual relapse, the more the idea came to the forefront.
I know it was Very Hard for my friend to admit the relapse to me and I Applaud her and everyone else who has the strength to do so!
I invite everyone to do one thing the next time you make assumptions about either yourself or what others might think of you (yes, even those of you who aren’t addicts). Do a reality check. Did someone Actually Say it to you, or are you ‘reading between the lines’ of something they did say? If that’s the case, check it out. ASK them what they meant. Or, choose to leave it alone and realize that reading between the lines does you no good whatsoever. Are you assuming things to be true about yourself because of a negative self-image you have? Take stock in what you DO have – ACTUALLY HAVE. Do you have clothes to wear, food to eat, family and friends who love and care for you, people who miss you when you’re gone, a faith that sustains you? These are the Important things in life, and they are the things we need to cling to when we start despairing.
I have lived most of my adult life with depression. It is debilitating to say the least. It has landed me in the hospital more times than I can count (or remember for that matter!). It is still an uphill battle for me and many days that hill is STEEP! I have made those assumptions that nobody cared about me, and for me, I could back it up with what I thought were facts. BUT, I wasn’t checking the facts! I was Assuming I knew what they were based on things people were doing or not doing. It’s easy to assume nobody loves or cares about you when nobody calls. The thing is this – it is MY responsibility to call too! I found out that it is possible to drop off people’s radars just by not socializing, not calling, not showing up to life.
We deserve to have a life, but we need to Participate in it too! Stop comparing your insides to everyone else’s outsides because you never know what’s going on inside their heads!
To those who relapse… I Care!