5 Steps to Avoid Relapse: What To Do When You’re Tempted

I catch myself white knuckling it more often than not this week. This week has been hell week. Not sure exactly what went wrong, but everything seemed upside down. Every single day was a struggle. Last night I reached my breaking point, and this morning I realize it’s time for a change. Yes, the physical problem is menopause with crazy hormonal outbursts of emotion (read more about this journey here: Men-o-what??? Preparing for Menopause: My Endometriosis Journey ). But beneath that there’s more. The problem this week, is this little thing called control.

I tend to be an alpha female who is used to getting her way, succeeding, and controlling her own mindset to accomplish the tasks at hand. What I learned this week, is that sometimes, that alpha female mentality needs to be put to the side for a bit. This week, my moods were out of my control, which only drove me more crazy because underneath the moods, the problem was control. I can handle mood swings much better when I let go of control.

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The fact is there are many things that are out of our control. Virtually everything is out of our control if you think about it. The number of breaths we take is completely out our control. Why then, does my feeble little mind think it’s powerful enough to control everything? I’ve known I struggle with control for many years now, it was one of my first revelations in recovery. It’s still occasionally a viscous cycle though, losing control and being so upset about losing control, that I lose control all over again. All aboard the crazy train….

Last night I found myself storming out of my house for the umpteenth time. My emotions got the better of me and I spent the day snapping at the ones I love, then melting into a puddle of tears. Then I got angry again at myself for losing contorl, so I snapped again, then cried again because I was a complete failure in my mind because I couldn’t control myself.

I found myself in the grocery store looking for ice cream, then I managed to wander the beer aisle. It’s been 3.8 years since my last drink. All I wanted was a drink. The bottles beckoned me, taunted me, and reminded me of the buzz I once enjoyed. Ahhh. The buzz was what I needed at this moment. I closed my eyes and imagined the body buzz I once enjoyed, and the freedom my mind once enjoyed with that buzz.  I played it forward and saw myself attacking my family while intoxicated, and the devastation it could cause and realized I simply did not want to start over. I’ve come to far to quit. Under my breath I grumbled “fuck you” to the booze and I walk away.

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I went home with my ice cream, and climbed in bed with my little one. My safe place. Unfortunately I bought a healthy ice cream that was completely terrible and I wound up in a puddle of tears once again. This was supposed to be my drug for the evening, this ice cream was supposed to help me escape the torment of my horrendous, menopause induced, emotionally uncontrollable “episode.”

Then I asked myself the question, what would you tell a sponsee to do? What would you tell the newcomer to do? First off, I should have been in communication with a sponsor or accountability partner long before my meltdown. Next thing I did was grab the Big Book (from AA) and started reading. I read over Bill’s story again. I read my bible. And I came to this. For more on this journey see When Jesus says “I Got Your Back” .

 Proverbs 23:31-32 reads “Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.”

There is always a message in the mess. There are instructions for living available at our fingertips and any point in time, should we choose to seek them. The first thing we have to do though, is surrender control and realize who’s in charge and what they are trying to teach us. Sometimes we have to go back to the beginning to find out where we are. And that’s perfectly ok.

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Step 1) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol— that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

So, what’s the message in this mess? What can I do to avoid relapse? 

  1. Use accountability partners and sponsors when you need them. In fact, if you do daily accountability they can probably call you on your changing behavior before you even realize its happening.
  2. Replacing one substance for another is not dealing with the craving.
  3. Get in the Big Book and in the word.
  4. Work the steps and listen to the warnings of the word.
  5. Reflect and inventory.

Now that you know what to do in the case of temptation and relapse prevention, I’ll be spending the day working my steps, which continues with offering amends to my family for my behavior this week.

Stay sober my friends!

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