In your quest for sobriety it will most likely take you more than one try. I could string together a few months, a year, and at one point 2 years. When I would slip up the shame and guilt was overwhelming. I figured what the hell I might as well keep drinking if I’m going to feel this way. If the people around me are going to monitor everything I do and everywhere I go I should give them a good reason. Who could blame them? I had destroyed all the trust they had in me.
It shouldn’t be this way. Yes, you are probably going to relapse a few times before you get it right. You shouldn’t have to feel overwhelming shame about it. Shame to the point where you feel you have no place to go but down. So you do. I didn’t expect hugs and kisses when I relapsed. I think talking about it would have helped. Talking about why I felt the need to drink at that time. What was going on in my life. I had not been diagnosed as Bipolar yet so maybe it wouldn’t have made sense but usually there was a trigger. A big one was the feeling that I was missing out on something. I didn’t know what it was, it was just a feeling that things were happening and I was not a part of them. This was bullshit. There was nothing important going on it was just my brain and self-esteem.
When you feel isolated and like the Black Sheep because you screwed up once again you think “who will understand”? My drinking buddies of course! They really don’t. They’re just glad to see you back in the muck with them. Misery loves company.
So it’s up to you to put away the shame and guilt and speak up. Tell the people around you that you are doing the best you can and keep trying until sober periods get longer and longer. Is it easy? No, of course not. I had to sever ties with all of the people I knew except one. I didn’t go out at night for the longest time. I know you can still drink during the day but I never did. I avoided any restaurants that were more like bars, I stopped going to concerts because I always drank at them.
Eventually I’ll ease back into some activities. I was invited to a Christmas party tonight but it was at a Salon with mostly young women. I knew I would feel uncomfortable and I didn’t want to put myself in that position. I would have only known one person. She knows my history. I went early and gave her a gift and a hug. She understood without any explanation. It’s what I like about her.
It’s starting to get easier. I’m used to going places on my own. I know my comfort zone and what I can handle. It’s a start. Just because I’ve been sober for over 6 and half years doesn’t mean I don’t have work to do. Half the battle is knowing my limitations and taking into consideration that I’m Bipolar makes it harder and easier at the same time. I know why I drink and what triggers my drinking. It helps to know that.
What’s hard is when people ask why you’re not drinking at a social event. I never know what to say. The truth? Lie? Just smile like an idiot? Say I’m allergic? It’s awkward and I hate it. 99% of me wants to tell the truth but it makes people uncomfortable. Why bother asking if you don’t really want to know? You have to have some clue in the back of your mind when you ask that it’s for a personal reason. Unless you expect everyone to say that they are the “designated driver”. You want to know the dirt but when you hear it you wish you hadn’t asked. Idiots.
Back to shame. Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed for your mistakes. As long as you are still willing to try and you didn’t hurt yourself or anyone else you have nothing to be ashamed of. Keep going. Start again until one day you see a person that’s been drinking and you feel relief it isn’t you. The desire and the need is no longer there because you know the consequences and you don’t want to disappoint YOURSELF.