Let’s talk about relapses.
None of us are perfect. There is not a single human on this planet that can claim to be. We all have goals we’re stumbling toward on wobbly knees. I cannot think of one person in my life who I have not seen fail at something.
So, trust me when I say, your failures are not the first and they certainly won’t be the last. Being human means being flawed and there is quite literally no way around that.
I relapsed this week, and I relapsed hard.
After the initial incident, I had to shut down and shut everyone out for a good 24-48 hours to get my bearings again. I couldn’t do it with my phone turned on or while worrying about other people. Pure and simple, I needed to lock myself down with my dog for the weekend. Talking wasn’t about to fix anything, and neither was worrying other people. I didn’t want other people involved anyway, though, you know? Sometimes, there are just things you need to do on your own. This weekend, getting my shit straight required me and only me.
I woke up still pretty well under the influence Friday morning (fortunately I have Fridays off) and sent my boyfriend a pretty brutal text filled with misdirected blame and careless typos. He was on his way to work, so that wasn’t received super happily.
I laid in bed until about noon that day before working up the energy to even sit on the shower floor while the water ran. After that, the initial depression worked itself up into anxiety and I needed to start moving. I did laundry and dishes and put myself together at least partially. I then drove myself to my favorite trail and went for the longest walk I could handle. After finding a bench with a view of the river, I sat down and just prayed. I don’t know if you’re religious – sometimes I wonder if I really am – but the conversation I had with the God I believe in was one I’ve been needing to have for awhile now.
I cried. I shook. I doubted everything and everyone in my life. I begged for some guidance. I felt some peace.
When my boyfriend got home from work, I headed over to his apartment to do damage control. I gave him a gift that arrived earlier in the week and we talked. His disappointment weighed more than my parents’ ever did. I promised him everything would be okay, but to be honest, I think it’s going to take him some time to believe that again.
I spent today cleaning, watching Jenna Marbles videos, and being very gentle with myself. Bear (the service pup) has stuck close since Thursday night and is still laying right beside me even as I write this tonight.
In all honesty, I don’t feel perfect or even remotely close to great, yet. I feel very tired. My mind is still weighed by the stress that drove me to relapse in the first place. It’s lesser now, but it’s still there. I feel guilt for destroying a year’s worth of sobriety and progress in just a couple hours.
The most important thing I feel right now, though, is this: compassion.
Compassion for myself, for the humans struggling around me, for the people in my life and in my past.
This failure is teaching me a great deal about patience and forgiveness and self-love. I’ve taken care not to use negative self-talk since the relapse. My efforts have all been directed at being gentle with myself and the people around me. This aftermath is a great deal different than those I’ve experienced in the past and for that I am grateful. The help I received following my first and second overdoses helps me still to this day. I know now, better than before, how to utilize the coping skills I was taught while sobering up in treatment.
This time, I think maintaining my sobriety will be easier than the last. I think I’ve learned a lot, and this relapse is just another stepping stone in this life-long process. I’m okay; I’m going to be okay. My best friend from high school reminded me yesterday: “Today is a bad day. That doesn’t mean it has to be your last day.”
And I’m clinging to that.
Please, don’t let your failures and shortcomings determine the rest of your life. It’s so easy to take the path of least resistance and fall down our own dark rabbit holes again and again. You are stronger than that. You can and will overcome this.
This ocean is full of great and terrible waves, but you are more than strong enough to survive them. Keep swimming. I love you.
Head above water,