Then I caught myself. Even eight years into recovery, I occasionally get a reminder that the gremlin is still alive and well deep inside me, just waiting for me to slip up. Just one drop on the tongue and the ground beneath me could crumble.
Well, relapse isn't quite that simple. It comes much earlier than the actual drink, pill, shot, or smoke. Relapse begins when we fail to attend to our recovery on a daily basis.
My recovery counselor said that we are always relapsing; and he shared a great metaphor with us: Envision a raging river leading up to a waterfall. The river is the power of our addiction; and in order to maintain recovery, we must always be rowing upstream. The moment we stop, we slip closer to the waterfall. The waterfall, however, is the act of drinking, e.g., though, and not the relapse. The relapse occurs much earlier - somewhere in the rapids. The question we must always ask ourselves is how close are we to the edge. If we are too close, we better start rowing!
What do we do to row and get further upstream? Here are some ideas:
- Go to a meeting (AA, NA, GA, any support group)
- Tell someone who understands and is familiar with your addiction. Heck, if you have no one, contact me! email@example.com I'd be happy to chat with you!!
- Get that bloody 8 hours of sleep a night!!!
- Limit the simple sugars in your diet. Eat a protein- / complex carb-balanced diet which includes lots of vegetables and fruits.
- Drink half your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water.
- Exercise - especially aerobic (e.g., running, walking, Zumba, aerobics, cycling).
- Pour yourself into a hobby.
- Read something inspiring.
- Laugh! Watch a comedy (preferably not Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke...)
- Get out into nature: Touch and feel the bark on a tree! Smell a flower! Look at the beautiful waterfalls and feel the spray on your face. Listen to the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore and the seagulls screeching above. Look up into the night sky and count the number of satellites you see. You get the picture...
- Connect with an animal. Dogs, cats, horses, and other pets are wonderful therapists!
- Now that I think about it, connect with your therapist; and if you don't have one, get one.
So now that I've had that dream, where am I on the river? How close am I to the falls? Which of the above am I going to do today to keep myself rowing?