Relapsing – Don’t make the mistakes I did!

I literally couldn’t tell you how many times I relapsed on my journey to sobriety. Time and time again I would be given another chance to stay sober after a detox or rehab. And time and time again I would eventually reach for that bottle. Sometimes I would hold out for just a couple of days and sometimes a couple of weeks. For years the outcome was always the same.

I was probably one relapse away from death on more than one occasion. I am so amazingly lucky to still be here. In actual fact, I have no doubt I would be dead right now if I hadn’t have spent two long periods in rehab which allowed my body and organs to heal.

The liver is an amazing organ which can heal itself to an extent, but I was battering it so much that without those three-month spells, I’m sure it would have given in. So, rehab not only taught me a lot of the tools I use today in my recovery, it also saved my life twice.

I pushed my body to the edge; please don’t make the mistakes I did.

This does not mean that each and every time I was not trying to stop OR that I was not trying hard enough. I’m an alcoholic, so putting the bottle down forever is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and the hardest thing I will ever do.

Relapsing was part of my journey. I wish I could have just got the job done first time around and never relapsed again, but unfortunately that’s a very rare thing for an alcoholic.

The thing is, I used to beat myself up after a relapse. All I was doing was making my task harder. Relapses happen. Its not good, but its not the end of the world. It’s important that if you do relapse, you don’t make the mistakes I did like beating yourself up and bottling everything up.

You sober up and go again and keep going until you work out all the things you need to be surrounded with and in place that work for you. All the things that support you and help to keep you sober.

They are out there; you just need to find out what works for you. Relapsing is not ultimate failure, its just another bump in the road. And if you can learn from it, you are potentially getting closer to sobriety.

I know this is easier said than done. The overwhelming feeling of failure you endure the morning after a relapse is extremely powerful. But you have got to find the strength to start over and not use that feeling as a reason to drink again.

After a relapse the worst thing I could have done (and I did it a lot!) was to bottle up all the emotions I was feeling. The shame, remorse, self-hatred and weakness. Bottling them up was only going to lead to one place and before I knew it, I would be drowning the emotions out with a bottle.

You have to talk to someone after a relapse, whether that be a meeting or someone you feel comfortable talking about it with. You need to let it out. It’s the best way of giving yourself a chance in those first few fragile days. For years I didn’t do this enough.

I found that in the last year of my drinking, the sober time between each relapse increased. I began to see that I could go for months without a drink. This led to my optimism and hope growing. Not only that, but I could see more optimism in the faces of my loved ones, and this only gave me more strength.

Everyone’s recovery is different. But we all have the same aim. A sober and happy life. I hope anyone who is reading this and currently struggling can find the strength to reach that goal.

Thank you for reading.

Toby

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