From Heartache to Hope

Life with the Alcoholic/Addict

The unbelievable studipity of relapse

Relapse is rarely good, but some relapses do more damage beyond just the fall

I have written many columns about relapse. From “What are some of the triggers to relapse”? Or “Why when everything was going so well”? It is a continual subject and just when I think I have covered all the standard reasons for relapse, something new comes up that has me shaking my head and saying “you’ve got to be kidding?”

Let me first address the title where one might say that any and all relapses are stupid so why even talk about it? In one of my other columns and in my book Reclaim Your Life – You and the Alcoholic/Addict I have devoted some discussion to the question “can relapse be part of recovery?”

My answer was yes it can IF and only IF the alcoholic/addict learns what might have been the trigger and what they can learn to avoid the relapse again. But sadly, relapse is so prevalent that the lessons learned from the relapse are all too often short lived.

So, why am I taking yet another stab at the relapse issue? This will be about my personal experience with a man near and dear to me that relapsed a few weeks ago and through some personal and professional analysis have pieced together what I think happened. Hence, I would like to share it with my readers in the event they are dealing with a similar situation.

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First the facts: I divorced my alcoholic husband (Mark) a few years ago. I didn’t leave the marriage because I fell out of love, but because I could no longer deal with the baiting and punishment, dry drunk behavior and the steady stream of relapse and recovery. As was becoming our pattern, we would reconnect when he was about 6 months clean and sober but I had specific boundaries that I firmly implemented that kept me comfortable within the relationship.

I enjoyed his company and like all long term relationships we had a lot in common and of course a special history. These last several months he was living at a sober living house where he had become one of the managers and was therefore granted a small salary and room and board. He also had another job that he loved very much. We saw each other three times a week and things were calm, fun and loving.

However, my ex wanted to move back in and insisted that we head in that direction or he would make either ask for a transfer to another location from one of his jobs or start dating others. I told him that there was no way he was going to move back in since we had done that dance without success for several years and that I enjoyed the relationship as it was. He proclaimed that I was selfish, but his barbs rolled off my back as I was firmly committed to what was healthy and working for me.

Personally and professionally things started to unravel and a level head was needed to keep the ship sailing on the right course; nothing difficult or painful, just thoughtful.

So, instead of quitting his job at the sober living facility, finding an apartment so he could open himself up for more hours at this other job, my opinion is that he relapsed so he would be kicked out of sober living and be FORCED to get an apartment. In addition, Mark rode his almost brand new scooter, damaged it and received a DUI (his second) in the process. Mark knew that I would be disgusted by this unbelievable stupid behavior and not want to see him anymore. Now he would be FORCED to start dating others.

When this first happened, I couldn’t help but e-mail him and ask him why if he knew he was going to drink at least leave the scooter safely parked somewhere and walk or take a cab to a hotel and tie one on? This way the damage was only a relapse and now it’s a suspended license for God knows how many years and thousands of dollars in fines or legal fees.

Of course, no response from him.

I did receive a text that said “Don’t give up on me, I haven’t”. My response was that I couldn’t give him an answer as I had never met anyone that was so personally self destructive.

For weeks I shook my head on the unbelievable stupidity of this relapse and then realized sadly that I couldn’t trust or be friends with someone that has so little respect for themselves. I had come to the end of whatever relationship we had and surprisingly wasn’t upset. I reminded myself of my favorite consoling quotes that I so often turn to in times of uncertainty. “Sometimes God does for us what we can’t do for ourselves”.

Maybe it was time for the friendship to be over, but neither one of us could really put the brakes on. Maybe I would not have been able to meet someone else unless Mark was completely out of my life. And, maybe Mark needed to eradicate himself from me in order to move on. Who knows and only time will tell.

I do pray for his peace and sobriety and hope that one day he finds his comfort zone and can love himself with respect and dignity.

If I can be of service, please visit my website www.familyrecoverysolutions.com and I invite you to explore my book Reclaim Your Life – You and the Alcoholic/Addict. It can be purchased through PayPal or at Amazon. In addition, my book is available as an audio through PayPal only.

Carole Bennett, M.A., is a family substance abuse counselor, lecturer, columnist and author based at her Family Recovery Solutions Counseling Center in Santa Barbara, CA.

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