“I may have another relapse in me, but I may never have another recovery!”
When I first heard this phrase early on in my 12 Step recovery, I didn’t quite get it. That’s mostly because I didn’t understand what it meant to be in recovery for addiction. But now that I do and now that I have some serious recovery time under my belt, it totally makes sense. Relapses can happen, even for those who have been sober for great lengths of time, and most often they seem to occur when someone has slacked off on improving their spiritual condition.
Usually that begins with skipping prayer and meditation. When that’s done enough times, it’s frequently followed up by starting to say one’s too busy to help others, which is a big part of the 12 Step recovery program. And after that selfishness kicks in enough, a person tends to avoid calling those who are healthy and doing their recovery work, essentially isolating themselves from their support network. After that, it becomes far easier to skip out on attending 12 Step meetings altogether, which ultimately dooms a person to a relapse. And when that takes place, the ego immediately snaps to attention, providing every type of excuse as to why it happened.
Yet the reality is there is no valid excuse. A person who’s deep into that ego state all over again after a relapse will still try to believe them though. They also will generally find it rather difficult to head back to the very meetings where they used to share their experience, strength, and hope. The guilt and shame they feel inside are so powerful after a relapse, especially if they were sober for a long period of time. That’s why many never come back to the rooms of recovery again and remain in a chronic relapse state for the rest of their lives.
Frankly, a relapse scares the crap out of me. I know there’s always going to be the potential for it to happen to me, even with having now over 22 years of continuous sobriety from alcohol and drug addiction, and over 5 years with sex and love addiction. To imagine a life where I picked up either again, I think it’s safe to say that my chances of returning to a life of recovery would be slim to none.
Why do I say this?
Because my ego craves immediate gratification from all the physical pain and anguish I go through on a daily basis these days and picking up an addiction is what it wants, yet I have denied it over and over again, even in the greatest of pain. But to fail on that and give in to that temptation one more time would instantly provide the ease and comfort my ego has been seeking. Then, once the relapse is under way, it would also help cover up all the guilt and shame I’d be feeling from it. Guilt and shame over all the people I had spoken to in all these writings and in all my speaking’s throughout the past bunch of years where I constantly preached about my recovery. And to return to a life of recovery would be to place my tail between my legs, and no one’s ego really ever wants to have to do that.
That’s why I know that while I may have another relapse in me, as all of us do in sobriety, the likelihood is that I may never have another recovery in me, which is exactly the reason why I pray to God to help keep me clean and sober for the rest of this life, because I don’t ever want to find out whether that’s true or not…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson