When I did the September Live Alcohol Experiment with Annie Grace, they make a point of seeing “relapses” instead as “data points”. They’re opportunities to observe a drinking session and examine what was really going on.
So, I had a data point over Canadian Thanksgiving last weekend. We traveled 9.5 hrs in the car to spend the long weekend with my brother. He is historically a heavy drinker, so I knew I had to have strong resolve, and I did! …at least, the first night.
[***trigger warning***] They’re the kind of people with booze proudly on display: a beautiful liquor cabinet; wine bottles artfully arranged; sparkling glasses ready to be filled; a little sign saying “mama needs a cocktail”. And they start drinking early on the weekends. So after being immersed in that for 24 hours, I caved. Then more the next night, then a couple nights again after we got home before I got back on the straight and narrow.
At this point, I had 6 sober weeks under my belt, so going back to day zero really sucked. It felt like it had been forever, but my first learning from the data point is that six weeks is still eeeeeeearly days in the sober world. In retrospect, it was foolish to think I was strong enough to have drinking in my face for 3 days straight and not cave.
My second learning: the peripheral danger of a new day zero is how it affects my addicted voice. That little hooligan big-time capitalizes on a day zero to encourage future drinking. It says things like “you may as well have a drink tonight because you’re already on day zero. You have no momentum. Just start over again tomorrow.” That’s what kept me going a few more days afterward.
Now that I’m FINALLY back on the wagon (four days, whoop!), my third learning is recognizing how beautifully comfortable my sober space has become for me. When you’re in the throes of addiction, it’s agony. The emotional thrashing, existing in a pit of stinky, gross shame and self-loathing is such a horrid place to live. Coming out of it feels like having a hot shower, a warm cup of tea, a solid meal and relaxing on the couch in front of the fire. It’s not fireworks, it’s not legendary, but it is oh so comfortable and comforting.
So – back to protecting my baby sobriety like my life depends on it. Because, well, it does!