I’ve been thinking about why I’m writing so many negative posts about AA and recovery work recently, and I think it’s because I’m scared.
I’m scared because I read John saying that spending his time creating art, starting a business and feeling good wasn’t enough to prevent a relapse because he wasn’t in active recovery. That’s three years of being busy, focused, artistically fulfilled, and it wasn’t enough.
I’m scared because Ellie talks about her relapse after years of not just sobriety but active work in the recovery community – Ellie is the founder of Crying Out Now and a stalwart of the sobriety blogging world – and she says
My depression came out as manic energy – impulsive, compulsive, obsessive. I didn’t stop from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning until the moment I fell into a fitful sleep. My mind never, ever stopped. To the outside world I looked on top of my game – productive, full of life, passion and drive.
I’m scared because of Robin Williams, who (years before his death) relapsed after twenty years of sobriety. And because as soon as Drunky Drunk Girl posts about moving on from recovery, her comments fill up with warnings of doom.
I see myself in all of those people. I fall asleep with ideas for articles bubbling in my brain, and I wake up with a list of things to do – that I’m excited to do – before the next day. I feel like I’m running to keep up, not because I’m falling behind but because there’s always the next, even more exciting, thing around the corner. I am parcelling out hot baths and cups of tea like medicine, doses of calm to counteract the amphetamine energy, because you guys, there is this whole life out there that I want, and it is just over the next horizon, and I can’t stop.
And because I’m scared, I’m angry. I’m not angry that I have to live without alcohol. Living without alcohol is easy. I’m angry that I don’t get to just fucking well move on. That I have to be vigilant, and scared, and worry about the damn thing. I’m sober! And happy! And busy, and fulfilled, and artistically creative! Isn’t that enough? What if it isn’t?
Here is an article reporting on a study that I can’t access, which also makes me angry. I realise this is completely irrational, but I also pointed that out to my toddler this morning when she didn’t want to wear clothes to daycare (“Toddler”, I said. “You are being irrational”) and it didn’t change her position either. That study says that if you get to a year of sobriety, your chance of relapse is less than half, which is … mildly comforting, I guess. At five years, your relapse chances are more like 15%. SO that’s something. But it’s not everything, and I want there to be an everything.
I knew for years before I quit that I’d have to stop. I knew it’d be hard, and I’d feel the loss of it, and it’d have been better if I’d never let my drinking develop into a problem in the first place. What I didn’t factor in, ever, is the idea that once I did steel myself and quit, it wouldn’t be over.
I don’t drink. That. Should. Be. Enough.