Some people seem to believe that it’s the beginning of sobriety that is the most dangerous to fall and go back out. I personally think it’s the years that follow. Not to say that it’s easier for someone with more sobriety is more likely to relapse, we can all do that at any given time. It just seems to me that in the beginning, everything is new. As the years go on, unless you make it a point to continue to WORK whatever program you’re working, it’s easy to get complacent. As the years pass, every now and then you may think, “I’ve been sober long enough, I can control it this time.” Yes, I’ve had those thoughts from time to time. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Or you may start to think, “Holy shit, do I really have to work at this for the rest of my life??” Yup, I’ve had those thoughts too
When those thoughts pop into your head, you can do one of two things. You can allow them to fester in your brain and take the chance of testing the theory, OR you can recognize those thoughts exactly for what they are, stinkin’ thinkin’ and realize you’re having them because you’ve gotten complacent and need to go back to the basics. Either way, the choice is entirely yours. When I start playing in my own head and actually find myself considering those crazy thoughts, it usually means I’ve stopped following my own program. I stopped going to meetings, stopped calling my sponsor, stopped doing all the things that helped to get me sober to begin with. Not everyone works a twelve-step program, but it’s no secret that I do. The first step is “Admitting we are powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.” I have to do that step every single day. If I don’t, it’s not hard for me to forget and I begin to develop my “I got this” attitude. It was my crazy thinking that got me in this situation to begin with, therefore, entertaining my own thoughts is a luxury I can’t afford to entertain.
Complacency for an alcoholic can be VERY dangerous, whatever we did to get us sober we MUST do every day for the rest of our lives with the same determination, faith and willingness we gave it in the very beginning. I’ve had a few scares over the past four years. One consisted of waking up with the actual taste of Jack Daniels in my mouth as if I’d just had a shot. It shook me to the very core and I knew right there I had to get up off my ass and go back to doing what I knew I had to do. If I didn’t, that taste in my mouth would have surely become a reality in time. I recognize the signs today and I pay attention to them. Ignoring them can and will be lethal to me. There’s no going back for me, but in order for that to happen, I have to work at it. It’s not like once you get sober, you’re cured. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Once you’re an alcoholic, you’re an alcoholic for life. Therefore, for life, you must continue to work at your sobriety. Every time we go back out, we pick up where we left off and the experience is worse than it was before. EVERY TIME. Make no mistakes about that. If I go back out (God forbid) I’ll drink a Gallon of whatever I pick up and I WILL drink myself to death. I know that for a fact, therefore I’m gonna pay attention to the signs, I’m gonna continue to do what I have to do and use the tools I’ve been given and I’m gonna do whatever is necessary to keep myself from playing in my own head. It’s natural to get complacent every now and then, but it’s what you do when you start to get the warning signs is what will determine whether you live of you die.
September 15, 2014
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist