This is Part 3 of a series centered on fears that one really can’t stop, even with years working the program. There is some sadness in this. We did a lot of work with the help of our Higher Power to get all that sobriety under our belt; worked through some really bad problems -- deaths of friends, forced early retirement, and the divorce of our daughter after many years and 3 lovely children. The program was there when you needed it.
But for some reason, after a goodly amount of sobriety, you sense an uneasiness. You seem nervous and anxious around old beloved friends who are enjoying an actively social time. One way to look at this is to remember the stories you heard at meetings of folks who suffered through a relapse after time in the Program. What did they say about awakening to the realization they are in the middle of a relapse and are going to have to “come back” and deal with those feelings?
I was a relapser after a period of sobriety and I can tell you it took a good deal of guts to come back and fess up to my old home group. I felt ashamed, depressed. I felt I had become this year’s Alcoholics Anonymous Relapser poster child. But what happened? Most didn’t say anything, or if they did it was -- “happened to me,” “welcome back,” “Let’s figure this out” (spoken by your sponsor). I hate to say it, but a relapse seems to be so common that it seems to be a part of the medical and psychological traits of this disease we are a victim of.
Of course, not everyone falls victim to the relapse. They are fortunate. But what happened to others really isn’t relevant to your situation, is it. All that is relevant is the steps they took to safely arrive back into the graces of the program through their new start at working the program. Spending a lot of time trying to figure out how it happened is often counter-productive. The question is: “how do you react to your slip and what is it you will do about it”.
Usually, the cause of a relapse is a declining interest in working the program because of “time served,” a reduction of enthusiasm for the Big Book, the 12/ 12, leads, working with others, and most importantly a disengagement from “going to meetings” for that is the place we receive a daily intake of communications from the program. Surely we remember that very often a discussion topic or a lead will appear to come from you and your daily experiences. You’re not alone, nor are you unique when it comes to dealing with this addiction. “Many of us all been there, and here’s what we did about it.”
So, if you’ve “fallen off the wagon” (in that old expression), get to a meeting, work with a newcomer, present a lead and topics for discussion, increase your number and places of meetings, seek outside counsel if necessary. But whatever you do, remember -- our addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. We need a solid quality infusion of the AA program every day, whether it’s a meeting, meditation with the Big Book, working with someone or, whatever will work to keep the fires of commitment to the ways of the Program burning in your life.
When you first came in, you learned that it’s not the end of the world. But it is if you don’t do something about your disease. Just remember that help is available and all you have to do is ask. The grace of the Program will reach out and help. It won’t condemn you, or mock you for failing. It will always supply helpful grace just as our Higher Power does for us every day. But ... never ... ever give up!”
Jim A. Covington, Kentucky