14 Years and No Absolution

by The Discovering Alcoholic on February 21, 2009

Original Pic by Jim Linwood now at The Discovering Alcoholic

I’d like to start out with a caveat to this post by saying when it comes to recovery, it’s always personal. Not just in the sense that I take the topic very seriously, but that recovery is an introspective process and no two are exactly alike. So when I speak in absolutes, they are exactly that… at least for me. I speak the truth of my own recovery, it may not apply to others and is certainly not the only truth but it is part of the process that I share it with others regardless.

For many of my drinking years I sought the opinion of others who would agree that my behavior was not problematic, and inevitably I found absolution from birds of a feather on a bar stool (the pub in Dublin is an oh-so appropriate pic). It wasn’t real though, it just felt good… especially if I washed it down with another brew. The amount of alcohol I needed to feel “right” grew progressively, but I always eventually managed to numb myself from reality.

Bruised and battered by my fall to rock bottom, I knew as a matter of fact that alcohol could no longer be a part of my life. It hurt just too much. Sober, but still thinking like an alcoholic, I could not shake the desire for something to make me feel “right”. A new contributor and friend to the site seems to be mulling over this very issue so I thought it would be a good time to share my thoughts on the subject.

Click “Read more” to continue…

It is very hard in early recovery to imagine making it through this tough time without some kind of chemical help. I know the feeling was very strong in my case- I tried my best to rationalize smoking a joint to take the edge off or even hitting a shot of Nyquil to help me sleep. In my heart though, I knew it wasn’t right for me- understanding that in giving a single inch, my disease would take a mile. There would be no absolution for transgression, just another steady decline back to my own personal hell.

I have now had over 14 years of sobriety without relapse or self medication and I still feel that absolution would be impossible. If I slip up it won’t just be a stumble, more like a free fall. I also consider this stance of zero tolerance as something that has been extremely empowering. Knowing that through the years I have not only found the courage to face my fears but have also learned how to enjoy life and be happy- by being me. Not numbed and temporarily oblivious, no false liquid courage, and no fear of transparency- recovery is much more than just refraining from alcohol or finding a less caustic chemical solution. I am content, something I never really even understood much less thought possible when drinking and drugging.

Total abstinence, this is the philosophy I recommend – no doubt there are other schools of thought (even though most come from the bar stool birds). Cutting out alcohol abuse in one’s life can only be considered a good thing- and is definitely part of the recovery process. Experience however, has taught me that those that abstain from their drug of choice yet continue to use other substances have a very high rate of relapse. Even more pronounced is the stagnant lifestyle, with fights, debt, and law problems being the standard fare- no new skills or patterns are developed.

My advice Jasmine- Recovery is a process, one that you have already started by quitting drinking. You don’t have to “start over”, just keep progressing and that means dropping the dope. Confessions may be good for the soul, but they also are a confirmation of guilt. I think like me, you understand in your heart that the self medicating is indicative of our disease and that if it continues there will be no absolution and no more recovery.

Confession may be good for the soul, but recovery requires moving forward.

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