Drinking, for me, is an expression of overwhelming resignation and desperation. It means that on some level I’m feeling powerless and stuck in an unbearable set of circumstances, or I’m feeling powerless and stuck in an unbearable story about myself and what’s going on in my life. On top of that I feel extremely isolated in the world of what I’m dealing with, and I’m deeply resentful of everything that I experience, including myself.
Relapse prevention is all about taking action in my life so that I don’t end up feeling that way.
The first and most important thing to do in alignment with that is to talk about how I feel - the isolation that I mentioned above makes the feelings of powerlessness more intense and harder to shake, since I feel like my problems are unique in their complexity and severity and nobody alive has any idea of what a solution might look like. Talking through my problems can make new contexts and solutions present themselves in conversation, since the experience of communicating my experience to others helps me see it through a new light just by thinking through how to make someone else understand it. The key to my recovery has been, ultimately, very simple - somewhere, somehow, no matter what, someone else knows exactly what I’m dealing with. 12 step communities are full of people who love to make themselves available that way.
Making myself available to let other people express and be known in their issues is another key component of relapse prevention for me. My own life can be illuminated and solutions to my own problems can present themselves in conversation. What’s more, my own suffering becomes an opportunity to relate and connect with the suffering of someone else, to show them that they really aren’t alone and that I really have been there too. That context gets me through a lot of difficult situations. No matter what happens to me, especially if it occurs as challenging and painful, and also no matter what I do in those painful and challenging circumstances, I know that my experience will be of use to someone else.
Being a part of a recovery community has meant that I get to be a part of a great chain of well-being, constituting thousands and thousands of people and spanning across time from before I was born to long after I’ll be gone. It’ll be there whether I’m sober or not, but I also know that it’s stronger and richer thanks to everybody who is a part of it, including me. Knowing myself that way has provided a powerful foundation for my life, one that I hope to share to anyone who seeks to have it too.