My sponsor is like any other Alcoholic in the sense that as much as I’d like to think otherwise, he’s not exempt from relapse. The last time he did, it was after a five year stretch and I asked him “Why” after five years of sobriety. I can’t seem to remember his exact words but he said something along the lines of, “I became more important to everyone else than I was to myself.” I really didn’t understand what he meant at the time, but I believe I do now.
I have been going through what I can only call a “rough patch” within myself lately and what messed me up more, was that I didn’t really know why until now. I’ve been spending the past five plus years not only staying sober but trying to make up for all the damage I’d caused over decades of time by being as strong and helpful as I possibly can to everyone who reached out whether it had to do with recovery or drag or whatever. I came out of the gate like gang busters full steam ahead. I had no slow or medium pace. Running full steam like that for over five years straight is enough to make anyone feel burnt out. Although it may not have been intentional, I somehow got caught and forgot that I can’t be of any help to anyone if I don’t take care of “me”
Sometimes I need to fall apart in order to get things into perspective. Sometimes even after five years of sobriety it’s necessary for me to go back to the basics. What’s my point? There’s so much more to sobriety than not drinking or using. True sobriety is having inner peace no matter what’s going on around you and if you lose that inner peace and serenity, not only are you not any good to anyone else, it means there’s a crack in the door labeled relapse. Sometimes you can mentally lose yourself then somewhere further down the road, literal relapse is more of a
possibility. Even the strongest of people can have moments of weakness and a friend of mine reminded me that it doesn’t mean they are “weak” it just means they are human. And THAT further reminded me that the key to inner peace is to accept the things in life you can’t change. Sometimes the most important pick me up is when someone is willing to listen & remind you that it’s okay to take the “S” off your chest and fall apart every once in awhile. Wearing a smile on our face while internalizing everything is also very dangerous for “us” and something I’ve always been very good at. Old behavior can and will bring us back to our old ways of thinking sooner or later.
The longer one stays clean and sober, the more important it is to stay very close to their program. Many get comfortable and complacent (such as myself) and THAT is a very dangerous place to be. The longer we stay sober, the stronger out disease gets, it’s behind us doing sit ups just waiting for the slightest opportunity to get it’s foot in the door. I didn’t necessarily “forget” that fact, I just allowed myself to get in a position where I started to believe that it would never happen to me. The last time I had that attitude, I was watching a video of my last drunk and realizing I was broken. The first few years in recovery, this is all fresh in your mind but when we re-enter the world of the living, sometimes life gets in the way and we forget. Forgetting is NOT an option.
I’ve said this quite a few times over the past few years. I’m not exempt losing sight of the big picture. Regardless of how others may see me, I’m nothing more than a recovering alcoholic who has to stay focused in order to stay sober. I’m nothing special so to speak, I’m not the only person in the world who has ever gotten clean and sober, and I’m not doing anything other than trying to live as I always should have. I don’t have all the answers and I must always remain teachable. Nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes I still need a swift kick in the behind to get me back into focus. When you recognize AND acknowledge a problem, you can turn it around.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist
September 29, 2015