Saturday, July 31, 2010

From Relapse to Redemption

*** Submitted by Kalisa, who blogs over at I'll Be The One In Heels

My relapse lasted five years. And make no mistake, it is true that this disease will wait for us. When I returned to it, it welcomed me with open arms. We very quickly picked up right where we’d left off nine years earlier.

Why did I relapse? Because when my life got miserable enough, and the urge to drink returned, I did not have a program of recovery to rely upon. What we have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. I basically had no defense against the first drink.

My relapse lasted five years, during which time I embarrassed my son, humiliated my husband, alienated my mother, and lost two jobs in what had previously been a promising career in public relations. My alcoholism was a ball and chain I wore around my ankle, as I spent every single day trying to figure out how I was going to get my next drink. I drank at home and I drank in bars. I drank red wine, tequila and vodka, all of which can only be purchased in liquor stores or bars in my state. Nothing so easy as hiding it in a grocery bill. Finding ways to dink took maneuvering, manipulating, cheating, lying and sneaking.

I drank every day. I usually started at lunchtime and I often spent the afternoons working in a blackout. On the way home, I would stop at a bar or a liquor store. Sometimes both. I often drank into the night.

One evening I stopped for some wine after work even though my husband was on a business trip and my 12-year-old son was home alone waiting for me to bring him dinner. I stayed at the bar much longer than I’d planned. A mental obsession followed by a physical compulsion…Elijah kept calling me but I couldn’t hear my cell phone stuffed down in my purse. When I finally left, I called him at home.

“Where are you?” He was angry at me. How presumptuous of him, I thought. I’m the adult. He doesn’t get to tell me what to do.

“I’m on my way home.”

“Well did you get me something to eat?”

“No,” I’d already worked out what was, to me, a perfectly reasonably excuse. “I’m going to come home and get you and take you to get some new shoes. So we’ll just get something for you to eat while we’re out.”

“Well hurry up. I’m starving.”

Naturally when I got home he knew I’d been drinking. I shudder now to think of the position that I put him in — telling a child old enough to know better to get into the car with me. We drove to the mall. He didn’t like any of the shoes there. I got angry with him and stormed out. Bless his heart, he didn’t want to be shoe shopping in the first place.

On the way home, I got pulled over. For speeding. I very luckily got off with a warning. God was doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Because let’s consider this situation for a moment: If they had taken me in for drunk driving, where would my child have gone? His father was out of town. Would they have tracked down his grandparents? Or would they just call CPS?

We arrived home. Elijah called his dad, crying. He had been very, very frightened. I shrugged it off. Acted like he was blowing it out of proportion.

But oh, the next morning…The next mornings are always the hardest. That’s when all the shame and humiliation and horror is there to greet you. I knew, KNEW that I simply could not drink anymore. I had risked everything — including my son’s safety, his very life — and it had to stop. NOW.

I went to work on Monday. On the way home, I stopped at the same bar.

I could not not drink.

Tuesday I went back to AA. I found a noon meeting by my office and went at lunch. Even though I’d had nine years of sobriety in AA previously, I was still in denial. Not that I needed it — no, I knew I needed it — just that I was going to actually do this thing again. I sat quietly in the meeting. I didn’t talk to anyone, introduce myself, or participate in any way.

Then the chairperson called on Elaine* to share.

Wait…what? Elaine? No shit. I’d worked with her about four years ago when I’d tried to get sober early in my relapse. Huh.

I don’t know what made me get up when they asked at the end of the meeting if anyone wanted a white chip. I had no intentions whatsoever of doing that. God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Elaine saw me. She came right up to me after the meeting.

“Do you remember me?” I asked sheepishly.

“Of course I remember you,” she said. “Do you need a sponsor?” Man, she wasn’t messing around.

“Uhh…” How was I going to get out of this one?

She pulled out a card, wrote her cell phone number on the back. “What time do you leave for work in the mornings?”


“You call me at 7.”

Elaine became my sponsor and took me through the steps. I wanted what she had, so I was willing to do whatever she had done to get it. My desire to drink was removed from that very first day — January 17, 2006. God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not.

* - Names are changed to protect anonymity.


  1. I was a raging alcoholic and pill head for many years. I lost all of my friends over it. I got lonely and depressed. But then I found Boyfriend. He is my rock and my resting place. I am glad you found the strength to fight the demon. Continued success!

  2. Loving a True Alchoholic is one of the most challenging things I have ever had to face. I knew when I met him, I knew when I married him, I knew everytime his Dark side approached me like a car jacker in the middle of the night, I knew when he was banished from our home, I knew when he came back with empty promises, I knew when he lost job after job, I knew when he apologized for not having a birthday gift, Christmas, or Anniversary, I knew when he lied, I knew when I found empty bottles hidden, I knew when he called me names, I knew when he cried in a prenatal position begging for forgiveness...I also knew that I loved him more. Forgiveness can be a powerful thing. Hope is even harder, But LOVE CONQUERS ALL.

  3. These stories of people relapsing after long years of sobriety really help me, Kalisah. This kind of rigorous honesty keeps me vigilant and sober. Thank you for your testimony here today, it's so important. xo

  4. i found this while doing research on a claimant who is believed... well it doesn't matter why I found this page. God led me to it. He's been doing amazing things to try and lead me to AA lately. I went to a noon meeting with a girl i knew from high school and just randomly bumped into leaving the tanning bed... 15 minutes later she called and asked if i wanted to go "Oh shit" - how can i get out of this one? well i didn't... I went, got a 24 hour chip (even though I was hungover from the night before - I wanted to quit), and that night went out to the pool with my friends (who drink) didn't tell them about my breakthrough at AA and drank.

    I'm now looking up AA meetings in my area for today, tomorrow, the next day... and writing them all down. Thanks for sharing, you've given a newly admitted alcoholic who is desperately fighting this demon inside her a feeling that she, I am not alone in this fight!

  5. My 12 yr old son told me that they learned at school how bad drinking too much is for you and asked me if I could quit for a month. I said "sure, Honey" and drank 2 days later. that was almost 1 yr ago. I've been attending meetings & relapsing for months now. I'm 5 days sober this time. I've learned that I have to do the work and take the action even when I don't feel like it. I want my kids to have a sober mom and not get a goodnight kiss from someone who smells like a whino. I'm working on it (and me) day at a time.