By Rose Lockinger
After being sober for a little while I have found that sobriety has become normal for me. I don’t often think about my life before sobriety and in many ways, I can no longer relate to the person that I was. In this journey of recovery my days of active addiction can seem like another life. This is not to say that I am not acutely aware that I could return back to the insanity that was my active addiction, but most days I don’t think about drinking or drugging. I no longer wake up with the hope that maybe today I’ll die and I no longer feel guilty about not being present as a mother. It is as if that part of my life was some sort of a dream and I have been given a completely different life, better than I could have hoped for.
However, this means that often times I cannot see just how far I’ve come. I can be incredibly hard on myself, thinking I should be further along in life because I lose track of where I came from. Last week though something happened that changed this a bit for me. A good friend of mine relapsed, and in her relapse I caught a glimpse of myself two years ago.
She was not the first person that I’ve known to relapse over my time in sobriety but her relapse definitely struck a chord with me in a way that many of the others did not. She is a mother like myself and she is struggling with the same things that I was struggling with when I first got sober.
Two years ago I was faced with the dilemma that many alcoholics and addicts are faced with, get sober or die. That was essentially the place that I had arrived at. My death felt as if it was imminent and many days I woke up just wishing that it would happen sooner rather than later. I could not envision my life with drugs and alcohol and I couldn’t envision my life without them and so I had reached a standoff with my disease. I stood there waiting for something to give but with each passing day, things only got worse. Until eventually the standoff came to an end and I surrendered to change.
Talking to my friend last week and trying to convince her to go to treatment I was aware that she was currently in her own standoff with the disease. I could feel her guilt and shame and I could see how these feelings were trying to keep her from asking for help, just as they had done to me two years ago. I remembered my own struggles with reaching out. Feeling that if I did I would somehow disappoint my family further and that admitting defeat would be seen as some kind of weakness. I remembered the fear that I had over going to treatment and what it would mean for my children. I could see all of this in her and because of this I knew, even if she didn’t, that there was a way out.
The program talks about how alcoholics and addicts are perfectly positioned to help others with substance abuse problems. The reason is because we have been where they currently are and so the words that we say to them carry the depth and weight of experience. They are not just philosophical notions conjured up by some therapist, but are based in the very facts of our lives. That being said it is not always enough and the person has to be willing to change in order for the words to get through. Luckily for my friend she was ready.
After some convincing and back and forth I was able to convince her to go to treatment and give sobriety another try. I can’t say for certain how this will all play out but I am hopefully that her 60 days in treatment will give her a good chance at achieving and maintaining sobriety.
It is always tough to have someone close to you relapse. You desperately want them to understand what you now know, but at the same time you are aware that it is not that simple. Talking to my friend last week I heard the disease speaking to me but at the same time I knew that she couldn’t see it. I had to remember that there was a time in my own life when I believed everything that my mind told me and that nothing that anyone could say would change that.
That is one of the interesting things about being sober. You get a front row seat to the inner workings of your mind while you were in active addiction. You get to see the peculiar mental twists play out but from the perspective of someone who no longer has them. I imagine it must be similar to how John Nash, from A Beautiful Mind, felt when he was finally able to recognize his schizophrenic hallucinations for what they were. Like Nash, I am able to see the disease working in others and recognize it for what it is, a lie.
Last week also made me think about how in sobriety we often times deal with circumstances on a semi-regular basis that normal people never have to deal with. My friend’s relapse is a perfect example of this. Most people can go through their entire life without ever having to intervene in someone’s life in this manner, but yet as someone in recovery there is a fairly good chance that this will occur a couple of times a year. This can be draining at times as you watch people build up their lives only to repeatedly tear them down again. At times I have found myself thinking, when will they get it or haven’t they had enough yet? Which are all of the same questions that were posed to me when I was actively using.
It is sort of ironic when you think about it, that a couple of years removed I should find myself thinking these things. So I have to remind myself that this is a powerful disease and it takes what it takes for someone to get sober. Hopefully with a bit of luck and a lot of prayer this will be my friend’s last trip to treatment and the beginning of her path to long-term sobriety, so please keep her in your prayers.
-Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at