Keeping it Green



I live every sober day with the fear of relapse.  It is always in the back of my mind.  For all 333 days of sobriety, I have had 333 days of fear, fear of drinking again.

I often think that at this point in my sobriety, closing in on a year, I should not still be having cravings  feeling triggers, or still be thinking about drinking, but I do and I am.  This makes me nervous, and that translates into fear.

I am still aware of the drinking going on around me.  I am not as hypervigilant as I was in the beginning, but it is still there.  There are still certain visual triggers.  Certain bottles of wine, names of vineyards, and family gatherings are all palatable trigger points.

I was at my home group meeting two weeks ago, and a gentleman shared a story.  He was at a meeting where a man received his 19 year medallion.  The holiday season was in full swing, and the man with 19 years disappeared from the weekly meeting he always attended.  A month went by, he returned and picked up a 24 hour chip.

He had seen a holiday advertisment for Kahlua and coffee.  He went out, bought a bottle of Kahlua, and proceeded to have just ONE.  The next thing he remembers is waking up in detox.

I sat there flabbergasted.  Thinking to myself, HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN???  WILL THAT HAPPEN TO ME??  WHEN WILL IT HAPPEN??

This past Monday night, I went to my home group with 12 the Hard Ways post, Back to Zero fresh in my mind.  I was having a pre meeting meeting with one of the old timers.  I was telling her about the blog post, and how it affected me, and how afraid I was that it was eventually and inevitably going to happen to me.

The meeting moderator asked for a topic for discussion, she threw COMPLACENCY  and relapse on the table.

The discussion was enlightening.

I constantly hear the old timers say that staying sober has to be the number one priority of every day.  I had listened to that so many times, but until Monday night’s discussion, I never really HEARD it.

My home group is mostly made up of old timers.  The stories and the wisdom are fascinating.  Everyone had a relapse story.  Either their own or someone they had met along the way.

Each story ended the same way.  The person in recovery stopped tending to their sobriety.  They stopped going to meetings.  They stopped doing their readings, they stopped meditating, the stopped tending the garden of sobriety.  They stopped keeping it green.

Instead of getting up each day and doing the work, they told themselves; I got this, no problem.  They became complacent.

As they were sharing, I began to think, great, more work to do.  Then I realized, I am doing the work.  I do it every day.  I read sober blogs, my daily meditation, my Big Book, and my 12 & 12.  I go to recovery websites, I read sober posts on Twitter, and Facebook.  I text or talk to my incredible sponsor.

What I learned is I need to work at this program, come hell or high water.  Whether my mother is dying, or my son is under- employed and living in my house, or I am knocked around by any of the other obstacles that life throws at me.  I have to do the work to stay sober, every day.  I can’t take a chance on thinking, I will do that work tomorrow, because that is the day I will end up drinking.  I can’t become complacent.

I often wondered why my home group was filled with so many people with an amazing accumulation of years sober.  Why did they still have to come to meetings?  Aren’t they bored with the program after so many years?  They may be but they can’t afford to become complacent.

I have worked very hard to get here.  The fear of relapse is still there, but now I look at it as a positive emotion, it will remind me to do the work that will keep me sober.

I have to keep working, because it only works if you work it.

I have to keep it green.






23 thoughts on “Keeping it Green

  1. I love this post. I’m about a week shy of one year myself. Some days I think relapse is a part of recovery and that, quite frankly, scares the hell out of me. When I talked to my sponsor she said that it doesn’t HAVE to be a part of sobriety. She reminded me that today is the only day we are after. You’re doing all the right things. Your tool box is stocked. You just have to remember to open it and then ask God to help you use it!
    Hugs to you,

  2. Good for me to read. I have been very complacent. Havent been to a meeting or spoken to my sponsor in 2 months. I pray daily, and hit online and Twitter and do that kind of thing, but my garden is weedy. Meant to read this.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this as it turned off a light in my head. I was getting annoyed with myself that last night driving home I had the urge to stop at the liquor store and treat myself????? Now after reading this I realize just one day at a time and start everyday with the commitment to stay sober, EVERY DAY. Thank you for sharing because by doing this you have made such a difference for me xoxoxo

  4. Thanks for sharing this insight. I am reminded that I need to work on my sobriety and recovery everyday. lately I’ve been feeling a bit complacent, which I think is leading me to feel a bit lost. I need to add some more tools. Hope you’re well! xo

  5. this is a wonderful post, thank you! god knows we all need the reminder, but what you wrote is such truth, straight up. EVERY relapse story i hear starts with that complacency, then the slow roll out of fewer calls, meetings, etc. I have a very healthy fear of that and, just as you do, i work on my recovery every day. this came up in a recent meeting i was at and the person was talking about all the insane lengths they would go to to get a drink, hide a drink, get enough drinks…and to stay sober they have to spend a couple of hours a week in a meeting, some phone time and some meditation time….a lot less time and hassle than was spent getting drunk.

    your attitude is amazing, that’s why you almost have a year. I was told when i came in that i never had to drink again if i didn’t want to. and EVEN if I did want, I never had to drink again. That stuck with me and i have not had to relapse in my sobriety. but that keeps me diligent, not complacent, and for that i am grateful.

  6. what a great post (the story of the 19 years sober man and the Kahlua gave me the shivers) and a wonderful wisdom and truth in the comments, too, so thank you to all.

    I also have been terrified by the idea that relapse can come from nowhere, wham bam out of a blue sky. but as you and the commenters say, it doesn’t come from nowhere. there are so many great resources out there (of which you’re probably well aware) an example of which was the great blogcast on the Bubble Hour which gave an almost painfully detailed breakdown of the early signs of relapse – here.–tools-tips-tales

    or as Belle says, “you can see it coming in, like a fog”. I am determined not to get lost in that fog, ever again.

    alcoholism has been described as a relapsing remitting disease. if we wish to stay in the remission phase we give ourselves the best chance of doing so by educating ourselves in the possible early signs of relapse, in the same way as we would if we were in remission from a deadly cancer. and then by ADDRESSING THEM, not just letting ourselves drift away into the dark fog. I love your motto of ‘keeping it green’!

    thanks for a really helpful post!

  7. All great comments. What I’ve learned since Saturday is that the better I think I’m getting, the more self-reliant I become, and the less I think I need the training wheels. But it’s easy to ride a bike when it’s going downhill.

    Love and prayers, and thanks for your words!

    • I want to thank you for your honesty in that post. As I said, it is a fear I face every day, relapse. I feel as though my old timers stocked my toolbox with excellent ideas.
      I hope you are doing well.

  8. What an AMAZING post. This is such a revelation and you’re lucky to be having it so early in your sober/recovery life. Mine came a little later but when it hit – it hit hard and, like you, was brought on by a relapse story. It was enllightening and scary as hell.

    I’ve thought many times about unplugging from this sober blogging community. I’ve thought, “I don’t want this disease to DEFINE me,” or “I’ve got this! No need to keep harping on it.” Then, out of the blue, the Universe sends me a message in the form of another relapse and I think, “Hmmm…maybe I don’t know it all after all.” Humbling yes but it’s also life saving and I’m grateful it continues to happen.

    So I stay vigilent. I don’t know if I’ll always be this way but, just for today, I’m grateful that I am.

    Thanks for posting this –

    • I don’t think I am letting this define me, but it has changed me. My drinking defined me. I would not plan anything that would interrupt “time for drinks”. I went out shopping at 2 pm on Saturday and didn’t get home until 6. I never would have done that while drinking, I would have missed two whole hours. That is just sad.
      Vigilant is how I will remain. Plus I love hanging out with all you guys, I could never unplug from this community! 🙂

  9. Love this post too! It has been true all throughout for me. Early on it just hang there like for you. Then I got comfortable. Then I got really paranoid around 3 years, the fear was so strong I immediately went to work. Now I am more involved than ever. I need it. Its my medicine. I know it works. When I stay connected I am better and I am happier.

    Btw. You’re doing awesome! You really are. Your determination and willingness is inspiring. Thank you! Hugs.

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