I recently passed the date where a year ago I relapsed after rehab. I felt strange about it all day, just kind of uneasy. Not that I was worried that I would relapse again. Just that all the memories were coming back to me.

It’s easy these days to go a long time without having to think about what happened to me. I’m able to push it out of my mind and forget about it. And when it resurfaces, even just for a moment, I have feelings of sadness.

It was a hard day for me that day. My husband had been in a serious accident. I was only home for about three weeks at that time. The experience was just too much for me. And instead of employing the safe coping strategies I had been taught at rehab, I fell back to my old ways. It was almost too easy to drift back to that place. I justified it to myself by saying, I’ve been to rehab, I’m good. One drink to take the edge off will be fine.

Well, I know full well now that one drink will never be fine. I can’t ever go there again. It simply doesn’t work for me anymore.

I recalled how sad and scared I was that day, both about my husband and also about stepping over the line again and drinking. There was so much uncertainty in my mind. Remembering myself in those scared, lost moments makes me very sad. I’m sad that I was ever that person. And I’m scared of someday becoming that person again.

Not drinking is much easier these days. I hardly ever think of it at all, even when I’m having a particularly stressful day. I’ve got a lot of other things I can do to get past it, and I do that instead. But sometimes the memory of being so deep in alcoholism that I knew no way out, and the memory of sad, stressful times in my life, they get the best of me. I try to talk it out, but I can’t quite find the words for exactly how I feel.

People in my life are worried I will relapse when I talk about feeling sad or stressed. I don’t worry about that, but I do wish away the bad feelings. I have been taught to sit with the feelings, analyze them, really let myself feel them. And also remind myself that the bad feelings will eventually pass, and things will feel ok again. That can be more difficult to do in practice than it seems in theory. I still struggle with this.

If you find yourself on the brink of relapse, I urge you to reach out to someone, anyone. A counselor, a friend, your spouse. There’s no feeling so big that someone won’t be willing to help you with it. And once you talk it out, it’s likely you won’t feel such an urge to drink. Once you let out all the feelings, and talk them out with someone, they seem less heavy, more manageable.

You can always find another way out. Going backwards doesn’t get you out, it sinks you further down. You need to keep moving forward, and moving on.

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