What an internal trail I have been trekking these past few weeks. Nice clean pastures followed by valleys and mountain slopes. Peaceful at times and then shattered by ferocious roars bursting out of the brush. Inviting gurgling brooks where I stop and just enjoy the surroundings, and 90 degree slopes that I must pick ax my way up.
This of course is all metaphorical and inside my own over active imagination. Theres a full thriving complete world in between these two ears of mine. But thats a story for another post....
I am processing the Cycle of Relapse.
Being that my story involves so many starts and stops, I am deeply interested in why one relapses when the desire is deep for recovery. I am also intrigued by the layers of relapse. When drugs are no longer the focal point, it is amazing to me all the different points that come into focus to replace dope.
I have learned through my third sponsor that I can seek the answers to my recovery questions anywhere I need to if I cannot find them within the rooms of the twelve step fellowship I belong to. I have asked several people about relapse and the cycle of it and have not received sufficient information to satisfy my insatiable appetite for recovery knowledge. Even reading the AA blue book and the living clean book have been inadequate in supplying the answers I seek.
During my entire set of steps, my sponsor and I worked not only the NA steps but also Melody Beattie's Co-dependent steps. I found the CoDA side of explanations to hit much closer to home for me then the NA ones. I am finding the answers on relapse in the same place.
I am in a spiritual relapse.
I like my labels to be able to define and categorize where exactly in my compartmentalized brain the concept fits. I struggled with considering my mindset as a drug relapse because I have no desire to use and even when presented with the option I choose not to. Not that I will always as I am a drug addict and can only keep my recovery for so long if I am not working a program. But I am working a program and still feel like shit. Actually scratch that last line I am not fully working a program.
I am now understanding my idea of what a program is may be the starting problem. To me going to meetings, doing step work and connecting to people in recovery is what working a program is. However I am learning that it actually goes a bit deeper then that now. Working a program is about self care. Eating properly, getting enough exercise and taking care of my personal hygiene. It also means setting boundaries, taking responsibility for myself and honoring my roles in life as mother, employee, Friend and so on. So working a program now is deeper then when I first came into recovery. I am not working my program to the best of my ability.
The current book I am reading by Melody Beattie points out all the ways in which we need to take care of ourselves in order to be healthy, mind, body and spirit, right after she outlines the stages of relapse. Thats what I am more intrigued about right now. I need to know the why's and hows of whats going on in my world. I know something shifted in me a while back, what I don't get is why it shifted.
Now I know why...
So the first step in an emotional relapse or a spiritual one, or even a drug one is... Your emotions shut down.
Looking back now I can see the exact place that this occurred for me. I was in a place of Goddess connected Love and Bliss for a good solid four or five months around the turn of the year. I remember feeling a bit uncomfortable early spring and then an insatiable desire to seek out the bad boy. I convinced myself that it was an innocent past time I was looking for and coming from a place of blissful connection I could handle it. I see in my 20/20 hindsight that something before that stirred up some feelings of pain and I needed to numb out..... distract with the patterned behaviour of getting romantically involved. That pattern in its extreme form is the endless string of boyfriends that end up going nowhere.... I see now its just a way of avoiding my own feelings and... Pain.
After Shutting the emotions down our compulsive behaviors return. The first one for me is over eating followed by a pattern of starving myself under the disguise of healthy fasting cleanses. When this behavior shows up I know I am stuffing feelings but am usually to clouded to see and just keep cycling here. When I progress to extremes I move into dope and then the final stage for me is sexing the entire football team. I can see clearly now my own compulsive patterns. I have always been on the verge of understanding for a bit now, just not seeing how they all fit into the puzzle, now I do. Self awareness is key to being able to fully take care of yourself and thus work an effective program. This phase takes a while to get to though.
After the compulsive behaviors start then that victim self image returns. Now for me after reading the definition Melody lays out for victim mentality I realize I don't have that, I actually embody the opposite.... runner mentality. I refused from a very young age after reading a book about child sexual abuse survivors to become a victim. So instead I grew into the worlds top sprinter. When I begin to get edgy, not being able to figure out why I am over eating I start the process of elimination. I do that by finding the last thing that irritated me and I cut it out of my life. recently it was work. I am tired and want a break from the long hours, so I figured it was time to write up a new resume and begin the process of looking for a new job. My runner mentality needs new focus and to create external passion in my life. Looking for a new job was that for me this time. Lots of times in the past its been a move to a new house/town/province.
The next phase of relapse is that our self worth drops. I can see this with looking for a new job. I started to feel bad because I was gonna jump ship on my boss who has been nothing but wonderful too me. I started to justify why I needed to move on and it was even getting to the point where I was starting to sabotage my job by way of shitty attitude towards my beloved boss. Wow, the sinking sensation in my soul even as I write that is effecting my self esteem right now. My God lets me get away with Nothing these days.... nothing.
At this phase of the cycle is when the crazies return. Fear comes up and we begin to function from this place. At my one year cake I opened my sharing with the fact that I am in fear again. I could not understand why. I felt undeserving, depressed, over extended, over sensitive to the point of almost desperation. I was back in a place of using pain without the fucking dope.... how was this right??
This is where the behaviors come full blown. This is also where my relapse has stopped. This is where the fuck you I am gonna act the way I want because I am a scared caged animal lashing out starts. This is quickly followed by... for me, drug relapse and the... holy fuck how did I get here again!! I remember this feeling way to clearly from my first several relapses in early recovery.
I cycled through this list at mach speed in early recovery, probably because I never made it to the beginning where my feelings were even open to have a place to shut down. Thats what the spiritual awakening was for me... Through working the twelve steps openly and honestly I did open to my feelings, thats the difference in my relapse today. I had further to cycle.
Recovery really is a process that requires patience and a balance of fun in order to get through the layers of the onion necessary to get to the core of why you use to cope in the first place. Now that i understand the cycle of relapse my attention has moved into what pain was coming up that I wanted to shut out in the first place. I think through the meeting last night I have a pretty good idea. A pain that I need to work out in private. Learning what to disclose was on Melody's self care checklist, something that I think I need to get intimate with. So this one I will need to process in private I think.
So now that I understand the cycling of relapse, awareness being the first Key, now I can work on the actions needed to keep it from happening again. Self care. It's always, always boils down to self care. And the ways in which we can take care of oursleves is an endless life long journey in itself. So It looks like I have my work cut out for me.
Have a great Thanksgiving Everyone!!
*** Reposted*** Two years ago.