If you are recovering from addictions and attend meetings on a regular basis, you are aware of triggers that lead many to relapse. Most of the effort used to help those in danger of relapse is focused on individuals new to recovery, or perhaps those going through difficult times at present. For any and all in recovery, relapse is a real threat. Whether that relapse returns us to actually using what ensnared us, or to returning to old thinking and self-service. Recovery is getting your life free from addiction. Sobriety is living life, personal growth, having ambitions to strive for, seeing life with a sense of purpose.
We have all experienced shock when someone with many years in recovery suddenly fell and returned to using, boozing, and doing what landed them in recovery originally. We were sure they were cognizant of what to watch out for, so why did they relapse?
There are many considerations as to why that were obvious, or not so obvious, and some not even considered. Here are a few to give pause and consider…and they are killers.
I’m forgetful, you’re forgetful, all God’s children are forgetful…that’s not a song. Forgetting how you felt when you first landed in recovery meetings can do great damage to ones sobriety. Remember that first meeting? Remember those first few weeks, months and learning how to accept what you became. From what may have started innocently, brought you to the bottom. That memory can keep sober living fresh, and you enthusiastic about sharing “how to” with others. To forget is saying to self, I’m really not as bad as I thought, having a drink or two won’t do me harm…I am not a foolish teen any longer.
No matter how many meetings some people attend, or rehab, or church attendance, they never seem to get over what could have been. They had aspirations, perhaps were well-known athletes, musicians, or brilliant academically, but became addicted, and hit their bottom in shame. They cannot forgive themselves even years later. They dwell on their lot in life until they just give up trying to recover.
3. Personal Pride
This is something everyone needs to be aware of in recovery. Somehow, as time passes, we learn how to speak well in meetings, newbies and others look up to us as knowing our stuff about clean and sober living. Getting free of addiction then having a lack of humility, to a realization that we are leaders, with the most sober- time in the room, is a fall in process. Never take the “what you need to do is”....as though we have every answer to every problem.
There are many unique situations, i. e. mental disorders, difficult upbringings, some grieving from personal loss, etc. Though twelve-step recovery works for all that have the mental capacity, none of us unique, there are unique situations. Have enough humility to listen before suggesting.
This is a recovery killer we all may struggle with. I nearly quit attending meetings early on, criticizing, and over-analyzing every thing I heard in meetings. On one occasion, I had enough of hearing one individual’s story in every meeting. The same story took ten precious meeting minutes that I could have used to speak, though nothing I said had value. I knew little.
At the boiling point I told a friend I have had it with this guy, when another came to join our conversation saying, “wow, did you hear that dude’s story…that was awesome! I slowly learned to stop criticizing and to listen with the heart as well as the ears. The change was dramatic. That experience also helped me stop the gossip of others in recovery.
To a point, we all have gratitude, or maybe a sense of relief that led us to be grateful for finding our way to the sober life. When in the depth of addictions, we are grateful for little, and have a sense of entitlement that makes us obnoxious for the most part. Learning the importance of gratefulness for every little thing is a addiction-breaker.
Taking a hot shower with a clean towel, clean clothes to put on, water to drink, food to eat, things we never gave thought to be thankful for become a point of grace to us. In time, we may go from feelings of that’s all behind me now, it comes natural to stop being grateful, feel entitled, after all, we may think, I worked to have these things. But without recovery, help from God and others, you and I wouldn’t have a job to afford the food, clothing, and roof over our heads.
These killers may not top the list in our thinking. Be aware, they are real, and the list not nearly complete. There are many others not mentioned here or in meetings. The idea is to keep the principles and process fresh in your thinking. Don’t allow people, places, and things to be more important than personal growth through sober living, service to God and others. Stay small in your own eyes with gratitude for everything. Forgive yourself because you are forgiven. If you cannot jump that hurdle, seek professional help.
And one last thought, don’t gossip or criticize. Talk others up, especially those who get under your skin. Say good things and compliment them with sincerity will help you mature to see them in a different light. Stay critical and you will face from others what you gave to them.
Laugh as much as you can and enjoy everyday of your recovery, and sober life, remembering your first visit.