Navigating the first days after alcohol treatment

I always pick the easy topics…right? lol

 

When I went into treatment  I was surrounded by folks desperate for me to go. I eventually had to get an alcohol intervention.

 

When I left treatment, I wasn’t surrounded by so much encouragement. Interesting eh?

 

You’re expected to get on with it.

You’re expected to know what to do.

 

 

Many of us, fresh in recovery, developed our addiction from a background of…..beliefs that don’t serve us, is the best way I can put it.

 

What I mean is, there is always some mal-adaption built into alcoholism, that’s different for every individual, that has to be remedied. It’s always different, but…it’s there.

 

If you’re lucky, you’ll have raised it, and worked through some of it whilst in alcohol treatment.

 

For me, I had some dependence and co-dependency issues that I’d developed from childhood, as a result of various separations along the way.

 

Nobody tells you, at the time, that you’re not responsible for those.

 

But later, everyone is quick to point out that you are responsible for your alcoholism.

 

In recovery, I learned that taking responsibility does not automatically equate to work. We sometimes make that mistake.

 

 

I’ll never forget my first meeting.

What AA do really well, if you find the right meeting, is the fellowship part.

 

It’s the realisation that “I am ok” “there are others the same” “it’s ok to reach out when I do need help”.

 

The thing is, when you combine a co-dependence issue, with a conditioned fear from childhood around asking for help – that’s a pretty potent combination that has a high likelihood of resulting in addiction, you know?

 

So it took a while (read: years) for me to de-condition that out of me – that the criticism, or judgement, I thought I saw in others, when I asked for help – simply wasn’t there in the outside world. I thank my CBT addiction therapist for helping me with that.

 

Once I gave myself permission to reach out – was when things became so much easier. It was like a release valve.

 

Suddenly, in so many situations in life where I would previously have isolated myself to seek solace in my “friend” alcohol, I saw other possibilities. They’d been there all along.

 

It’s ok to miss appointments sometimes. No-one will die because I was 15 minutes late one time.

 

It’s fine to not know where you’re going in life, and let the current sweep you along for a bit. That’s fine too.

 

And most importantly, it’s ok to say “I need help – can you help?”

 

It’s hard to explain how encouraging getting a win like this is. It helps you see beyond the addiction, no matter how dysfunctional your past.

 

And it provides huge motivation for moving forward – what other internal switches can I flip?

 

In what other situations are my conclusions skewed – and how are they holding me back, in ways that I can release?

 

When I get stressed these days, it’s more likely about much more mundane elements of day to day life, instead of a previous trigger for self-esteem or dependence issues.

 

Day by day I’m learning to be ok with things, no matter how they look. From this perspective, being an alcoholic in recovery doesn’t look or feel so bad.

 

I’m beginning to see, what we all eventually come to realise – it was never about the alcohol – it was about me.

 

Alcohol & Toxic Relationships

My Romantic Partner – was an ex-alcoholic who relapsed while with me.

…but not because of me(!)

 

Of course, we never intended for it to happen, and in many ways we were good for each other, but in the most important ways, we enabled each other’s alcoholism, if I’m honest.

 

He’d been in treatment before.

 

We met in treatment, him for the third time, me for the second, but we didn’t get together til after. I think that’s when the loneliness kicks in more, and you feel the loss of your coping substance more.

 

I knew what I *should* be doing, but never did. Never worked out why. I told myself our relationship would last, it was enough, I was enough, even if I did relapse now and again…

 

– My Family –

Clearly had good intentions, but didn’t truly help me.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I had a great upbringing, none of the usual hardships. Life when I was young was easy.

 

But later, I was involved in a hugely traumatic event, that shook me to the core.

 

At that point, you have nothing left, no matter how much you started with. I had catastrophic losses in my life that……I’m not ready to share just yet.

 

Getting past it and staying alive was a miracle.

 

So the bottle didn’t feel like such a sin at the time.

 

My parents never really saw me at my worst. They knew I was having issues with drink. So bailing me out financially was the right thing to do for them.

 

Well, once I got that money, I think you know what I did with it.

 

My Friends

Knew what was going on, and got too close to it. Some of them were affected too.

 

I told them, in my sober flashes, to get some boundaries, and some self-respect, and stay the hell away from me.

 

The truth is, I believe I came as close to the edge of life as I believe it’s possible to come.

 

Going through withdrawal and detox, looking down the barrel of the worst version of me, all the memories came back, too quickly.

 

I needed to make a change. No matter the pain.