I’m feeling hugely grateful, to start with. I listened to Paul’s Buzzkill podcast yesterday in which he read out his listeners’ recollections of their first 30 days sober – hell on toast, basically, with a shit side-salad. As the other couple said about dating in When Harry Met Sally: “Tell me I never have to be out there again?”
Well, I don’t ever have to be out there again. I could be, of course. My sobriety is not incised, inch deep, in a granite slab. In some ways it is as vulnerable as those letters written in the sand, capable of being washed away by a seemingly random wave… I have been irritated for some time by the often-repeated assertion that relapses happen more often when things are going well than when things are going badly. (Often repeated in online relapse articles, that is. It’s not a phrase I hear frequently in every day life. My dentist hardly ever mentions it, for example.)
Upon what study is this statement based? Sez who? Perhaps given its universality it is derived from the AA Big Book? I would love to know if any AA readers are aware of a such a link.
An eminently reasonable question might be: “So, why are you reading online articles about relapse, Prim?”
And there’s a number of answers to that.
Because I’ve been changing the way I interact with my sober online supports, due to technical issues, and that has unsettled me. Which worries me that I am drifting unawares from my sober anchors.
Because 1,000 days is a Big Deal and comes with the usual anniversary remoras of doubt and uncertainty clinging to its soft underbelly.
Because one of the (few) sadnesses of being further along in sobriety is having seen so goddamn many sober warriors struggling on the path, perhaps falling away back into the darkness, and not being able to do a thing about it other than to hold up the lantern and call to them, “See, here – it can be done!” Which doesn’t feel nearly enough, many days. And so I try to understand relapse and in doing so I prick my own awareness that I too am vulnerable to it, and that a healthy vigilance is still required. Relapse rates do drop significantly the longer one continues. After five years relapse drops to ‘only’ 7%, apparently. I’ll take that, as a remission rate. Have to get there, first.
This all seems unexpectedly dark, for a soberversary post! If you’d like a more upbeat one then pop over to inotherswords and read her 365 days post, which is hugely inspiring. She says that she guards her sobriety ‘like a junk-yard dog’, which is really what I’m trying to convey here: a recognition that what I have achieved is so valuable that I will protect it with all my strength.
Things are going pretty well around here, after all. I seem to be using capital letters on this blog for a start which may be indicative of something or other. A change in pace, perhaps? I was trying to describe it to Lou the other day and the best I could come up with is that nowadays is sobriety is something I am, rather than something I do. In the same way that I am a mother, I am a runner, I am sober. I just am. I sometimes have to work out ways to do that, in the same way I have to try and devise ways to stop my kids from bickering over the washing up (let me know if you’ve cracked that one, by the way) but it is a part of me in a way that I never, ever dreamed it could possibly be.
I am dealing with some relationship issues in my extended family, too, in a way that I never thought would be possible. The longer I am sober, the more obvious it becomes that there are things that need dealing with: crap up with which I will no longer put. And I am dealing with some of those things, carefully, whilst protecting myself and my emotional stability. I hope it will pay off in the long run because the process itself is painful.
Lastly, I am hugely grateful to all those who have supported me in this process. Some (not enough!) of you I have been lucky enough to meet in real life, or to form a more personal bond with by email correspondence. You know who you are! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. And to the many bloggers and writers whom I read, who read me, whether I comment or not, if I listen to you on podcasts, whether you lurk or comment or whatever: I love the fact that we can support, uplift and encourage one another in this space.
Thank you all! Prim xx