Relapse. That’s the difference between getting sober and staying sober.
Getting sober is no small endeavor, and obviously, neither is staying sober.
While getting sober might feel impossible to some folks, staying sober is equally challenging. The temptation to drink is always lurking. ALWAYS. Whether someone chooses to drink or chooses to stay sober depends on one thing – the exercise of self-control and will power. We’re all endowed with will power. We all have free will. It’s free because no one else gets to mess with hit. Including God. So, for the sake of simplicity – God won’t be referenced again after this.
No one who has experienced the monstrous challenge of getting sober will ever minimize the unfathomable effort it can take to get sober in the first place. Getting sober is insanely simple and hard at the same time. It’s such a mind-fuck and it’s so physically painful that it literally drives some alcoholics crazy. All we have to do is stop swallowing alcohol. And that’s probably the hardest thing some of us will do during our lifetimes – if our drinking doesn’t kill us first.
It’s ridiculous. Getting sober is a torturous experience that most folks wouldn’t wish on their worst enemy. That said – the tenacity involved in staying sober is another feat entirely defined by time alone. A person who stays sober (not to be confused with someone in recovery – that’s a different post) is a person who has not relapsed. That’s it. And this brings up a poignant point:
Some folks – not all – tend to define the word relapse in a way that supports the lie they tell themselves about what it means to relapse (drink) in the first place. They call a relapse something else – a ‘slip’ or a ‘mistake’. They negate the importance of their relapse, which is mind-numbingly harmful to their progress. Let’s just be clear here, A relapse is a nice word for a drink.
I know all about relapses. I tried and failed to get and stay sober for 23 years. It doesn’t do anyone any favors to lie to themselves about their relapse by calling it something other than what it is. A person can’t claim sobriety and drink. That’s like someone claiming to be a vegetarian when he or she still eats red meat once or twice a year. It doesn’t work. This is one of those things that IS black or white. There is no gray. There is no middle ground. It’s Either / Or.
There is only one way to get and stay sober. Don’t swallow alcohol. That’s it. That’s the answer. Everything else a person does outside that can be looked at as a side dish. Someone can go to AA, read, meditate, pray, exercise, get a sponsor, attend groups or meetings, write a book, eat healthier, buy kittens, drink more tea, – yada yada – but the one thing I will have in common with that someone – the only thing that counts – is that neither of us drinks alcohol.