Hey Dallas, I like PC, read your post twice, oh wait thrice. Thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope on the topic of relapse. I agree with everything you said, EVERYTHING!! I have thought a lot about this topic since returning to AA. I have thoroughly reviewed my history with my sponsor. I am not a chronic relapser, when I relapsed I had 19 years 11 months and 14 days of continuous sobriety.
You can put me under the category of "happy in relapse."
From 1983 to 1999 my entire sobriety was one crisis after another. Raising handicapped children, numerous moves, financial woes, marital problems, etc. Plus, I got in the trenches of helping other alcoholics/addicts recover for many years. By the trenches I mean low bottom cases and letting them live in my home and spoon feeding AA. My ex and I did a full step study twice a year in our home from 1994 to 1999. My house was packed one night a week for the study and every night of the week AA's were at my house. We used to call my living room the "day room". It would take pages to tell you what I'll say in simple terms - - - I practiced the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I went completely through the steps my first year, quit smoking my first year and made daily prayer and meditation a habit. I am a perfectionist. Most of us are. You show me the textbook and I'll not only read it, I'll follow it and memorize it as well.
My relapse started when I decided I didn't need all those crazy people in my life anymore. I didn't need the 3am phone calls, the cigarette burns on my furniture, I didn't need to listen to another hideous, sad, heartbreaking 5th step, I didn't need to see another jaundiced body on life support after a relapse. I just wanted out.
I always thought I had been given a life in AA, so I owed a life. I figured I couldn't pay that debt until I took the dirt nap. But, I decided to stop making payments to AA. I thought I could escape.
My life was happy, joyous and free. I was free of my ex, AA, the crazies. I married a wonderful "normal" man. We have great jobs, a beautiful home, we love each other, we're friends, we love to laugh and have fun. We have no problems.
In 2002 we moved. We both had to work different shifts for a year so we hardly ever saw each other. I began to be lonely. In the 12X12 on pg. 57 it says "almost without exception, alcoholics are tortured by lonliness." This is how alcoholism blind sided me. I was never lonely or alone throughout my entire sobriety until this point. So, Dallas, you can add lonliness to your list of why alcoholics relapse. I believe in Clancy's list it says "spiritual lonliness".
Then slowly, insidiously the thought of drinking began to enter my mind. The cunning, baffling, powerful, PATIENT disease of alcoholism came to life. I drank for 2 years.
So, what have I learned? For me, I know for a fact that the only way to avoid relapse is to have and do a daily program of action wich enlarges on my spiritual life. Would I like to be one of those people who doesn't have to do that, sometimes YES!! But, just like the diabetic will die without their daily insulin, I have to have my daily dose of vitamin AA or I will suffer and die. My daily program of action has already been prepared, and tested and it works. It can be found in our approved literature and that, for me, is more than just the first 164. All of the literature has information helpful for recovery, including the history.
I've learned that drinking isn't worth it. Drinking is a way to not be present at your own life. I choose to be awake today. I checked out for awhile and it was a mistake not worth repeating.
My Higher Power has never left me. My HP watches over drunks, fools and children pretty closely since they are so closely related. It is a pleasure to reconnect with the Source of Infinite Power and Love. I feel that I have once again joined you on the Broad Highway and that you are with me in the Fellowship of the Spirit.
Easy Does It,