The Cycle

“In moments of clarity, I was full of shame, guilt, and remorse; I had become an embarrassment to all who had had faith in me; to others I had become a joke. I wanted to die. Now alcohol had become the only friend I had.”–A.A. testimony, page 448 of ‘The Big Book’

I saw my therapist three days ago for the first time since my relapse over Christmas, so I explained to her what had happened and then we discussed some of the triggers for how/why I let myself start drinking again. (I’ve been re-re-sober 11 days now, but I’d rather not keep count this time around.) She allowed me to ramble on and on, and then she said something that caught me off guard: “So how long are you going to punish yourself for this? The guilt and the shame must be eating you up. Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself.” I told her she was spot on; that I couldn’t even talk to anyone because I felt so guilty for messing everything up. She reminded me about the cycle of recovery and how it’s just as easy (on the Xerox of the chart she had handy) to get back on the cycle from a relapse as it is to get off the cycle when the relapse happens. Obviously it’s harder in real life as opposed to a circular chart, but she’s right that I have to forgive myself. This is the same issue I struggled with when I spoke with my pastor the day I sobered up last August; I could forgive everyone and everything except myself. It really is like I’m trying to punish myself for messing up. My therapist reminded me that most of life is not black or white, but grey. Grey, as in, we all mess up from time to time.

The cycle of recovery is much like a subway journey; if you get off at the wrong stop, you just have to get back on.

The cycle of recovery is much like a subway journey; if you get off at the wrong stop, you just have to get back on.

The fact is, forgiveness is a gift, and I don’t feel worthy of any gifts right now. I know I have to forgive myself; I just don’t know how. Maybe time will change things? I feel fine overall, but I’ve been sleeping a lot to avoid people, namely myself. I wouldn’t say I’m very depressed; I just don’t know where to go from here. I know what I have to do, but I don’t know how to do it. I guess that’s why I’m back in weekly therapy for now.

'Gift Box' by Wayne Thiebaud, 1971

‘Gift Box’ by Wayne Thiebaud, 1971

I didn’t wanna share all this to be an attention whore or to get blog hits or anything else. I mainly wanted to share it to give whomever might be reading an update, since I’ve literally not talked to anyone since New Year’s. How easier to explain things when I don’t feel like explaining them than a “blanket blog” that people may or may not read. But it’s the best I can do for now. Things are fine, though…here’s a Salem GIF just to prove it.

Here’s to forgiveness, of oneself and of others.


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