8 weeks of sobriety, but today I was ripe for a relapse.
It started with not shaving, since I’ve been sober the simple act of shaving has been the cornerstone of my morning routine. It was my first intentional daily habit when I quit drinking, something to give structure and positive routine. This morning I just didn’t feel like it.
After that, I was watching my youngest 3 kids back at the old house. I suck at childcare and that was always an occasion for drinking before recovery. Lots of bad memories and guilt – I was always neglectful and sometimes a violent drunk.
The morning was too busy. Too much pressure, I was feeling trapped.
On top of that, I was cleaning out my clothes from the x-wife’s closet, symbolic that I’m not coming back. A visual reminder that I failed in my marriage.
But really, it began last night when I had some long distance drama with my girlfriend back in Haiti. Nothing was resolved, so today she was ignoring me until after dinner, then only texting to express how she was still upset.
Or maybe it was earlier yesterday afternoon, during my counseling session when I accepted that this divorce is really going to happen.
Wait, wait, maybe it was the stress of thinking ahead to Sunday, I’ll be visiting my old church to see my son’s baptism. That’s been on my mind a lot…
That’s all total bullshit.
It may have been the perfect storm of triggers, but the real problem came when I listened to the lying whispers of my addiciton. My recovery was in danger because of my internal struggle, not because life got too heavy. The stress made me weak, but it was my choice to open the door.
You’re worthless. Do everyone a favor and drink yourself to death.
There’s a reason all these people can’t love you – it’s you stupid.
Didn’t you used to smack that baby? Why are you not in jail?
If you lose the girlfriend, you’re totally alone. Except for alcohol, you can count on that to feel better.
You can’t handle the stress because you’re weak. You’re never going to stay sober, just give it up now.
Here’s the smoking gun.
Ask me, “Why didn’t you call your sponsor? Why not find a meeting?”
The reason is simple – I didn’t want them to talk me out of drinking. Drunk Tony was taking control and he wanted a damn bottle of wine. The gravity of addiction had me spinning closer with every minute. I started to make a plan, even decided what I would buy.
There was a struggle, sober brain saw the problem and reached out on Twitter with some vague calls for help.
For me, drinking was an act of self-hatred. Irrational, destructive, and very without mercy.
— Sober Tony (@sobertony) April 11, 2017
Let’s try coping strategies
- 60 minutes of running & walking
- Remember smart things from AA like, “It’s a lot of work to get drunk. Just ride the craving wave it’s going to pass.”
- List all the reasons why I didn’t want to drink
- Forget ODAAT – let’s just keep sober for the next hour
But the girlfriend drama kept coming. More long confusing arguments by text message, in a language that still trips me up. I’m really wrapped up in this girl, not always in a healthy way. Addiction loved every minute of the drama and I was sliding right into the trap.
Then I got desperate
What if I just fly back to Haiti in the morning? That will resolve the relationship issue. There’s nothing keeping me here and I can escape all these old triggers. I can stay sober tonight just getting myself packed.
I told her my plan and that ended the original argument (I still don’t know what about). We started a more grown-up conversation about my unfinished check list. Soon I was wondering through Walmart, trying to get my luggage in order for a 8AM flight.
Our messaging continued, she asked me to wait and finish my visit here the right way. Go to the baptism, keep the lawyer appointment, go back to the doctor for my results, and give the kids a proper goodbye.
I didn’t buy the ticket.
Two hours later, the travel plans were back on hold, and my brain returned to the question of alcohol. I opened Twitter again for one last dose of encouragement.
— HD (@hdbigjourney) April 11, 2017
That was a little after 9 PM and the cravings were almost gone, “Shit, what’s the point of drinking now. I’ll be asleep in a few hours.”
No alcohol was purchased. No alcohol was drank.
So, I’m going to bed sober. It was probably my worst day yet, but I survived and hope I learned a few things.
Here’s my action plan for tomorrow:
- No drama. No visits with the kids. No pressure. Just self-care
- AA meeting in the morning, speak up about the desire to drink
- Phone debrief with my sponsor
- Rethink the next few visits – everything is negotable except sobriety.
- Catching up on my reading
- Stay sober for one more day