Relapse – I should have seen you coming!!

So its hit me. It feels like a ton of bricks on top of me. How quickly did it happen? Why weren’t there any signs? How comes I didn’t see it coming?

Before I talk about the above and whether it was a gradual or instant thing, its important to mention that now I’m back in rehab, less than 12 months before I went in last year, so I am able now I’m 22 days clean to look back rationally with a clear head and see when and where I and it all went so wrong, of course when you are in the midst of addiction you cant see past the haze, mist and misery.

So lets go back to just before it all went wrong.

As I’ve previously mentioned I left rehab last year, I had a plan in place, and strategically laid out goals and targets.

  1. To reform a my bond and relationship with my daughter.
  2. Try to salvage  my marriage with my wife, who had endured the vile side of my addiction
  3. Try to replicate the ‘perfect family home’ that I’d dreamt of for so long.
  4. To get a job asap to pay the bare minimum bills which was a heavy strain financially.

For those of you that haven’t been involved in addiction in any way will think that these are perfectly rational goals, obvious ones in fact, however for those of you that have been involved however directly or indirectly will know that there is a big thing missing from that list, and that is ME and my personal recovery.

Hindsight has enabled me to look back and think “what an idiot” but I have also learnt that continually punishing yourself is detrimental to myself and no one else.

At first it was all great, I had reintegrated to our family home albeit staying in the spare bedroom, which was a bad place for me previously as it was my den, my lair, the place I was banished to when using, nevertheless I redecorated, chucked some new bedding on and was good to go. I continued blogging and talking about my journey which helped (for a while) and I was spending all my time with my daughter which was amazing as I felt so much guilt and shame for letter her down so it felt like I was repairing some damage.

I was beginning to focus on everything else around my recovery and never just on myself. There was no effort from me to reintegrate to society with friends, admittedly most of my friends use so it was always difficult and daunting to think “I have to make new friends and find new places to hangout” . Naturally the relationship with my wife was fractured to say the least and I couldn’t ever confide in her and discuss when I was feeling crappy or feeling any urges or cravings especially as I knew that her social circle was part of mine.

I slowly began to become more of a recluse, quieter, less open albeit still not using. The warning signs were there when I started to drive a different route home from the gym, so that I would pass where I use to meet my dealer. I also found myself keeping the off £2 and £3 change and putting it to one side, again not having used yet but these were clear signs of the beginning of the process of relapse. I learnt that there are 7 phases in sequence of events leading up to a relapse and I was ticking them off one by one without even acknowledging them. Some people can go through the stages in a day, others weeks or even months, but mine looked something like this;

  1. External Triggers – Driving past old dealers house & knowing my wife was socializing with all my friends and I couldn’t and arguing with her.
  2. Internal Triggers – Caused me to feel anger and depression
  3. Negative Automatic Thoughts (NATS) –  “I cant do this anymore or alone”
  4. Substance related beliefs – “I can’t cope without Cocaine”
  5. Permission – Just one to ease any anxiety and ill be OK
  6. Seeking out – Actually meeting my dealer, downloading old contact numbers the Cloud etc
  7. RELAPSE – You are back where you didn’t want to be. In the cycle that you worked so hard to break in the first place.

Even just writing and reading this back my leg is twitching, my heart is pounding and my anxiety levels are through the roof, annoyed that I lost focus, missed the obvious signs but once again I wont continue to punish myself.

The triggers and emotions were there early doors, but I bottled them up, the seeking out was even there early on to a degree with the downloading of my numbers that I ‘deleted’. I was wrestling with the ‘permission’ for a long time, but managed to resist it, the only thing that I managed to with stand was the ‘Relapse’ itself.

This would inevitably happy. It was just a case of when not if!!

So let’s go back to the mistakes I made, they seem so obvious when I write them in black and white, in fact they all make me a bit angry reading them back as I should have stopped, identified them and stopped them, at the source, but the reality is I was setting the foundations up for my relapse.

Bottling up my emotions with my Wife, holding onto the resentment and anger, driving past old haunts, saving money and putting it away but most importantly focusing on everything but myself.

When you leave rehab you have to be completely selfish in your own recovery, but try telling that to the people who have done nothing but call you selfish on a daily basis for years! It’s incomprehensible to them but the reality is by you being ‘selfish’ you end up being ‘unselfish’ as your loved ones get back the person you can be, your personality and self-esteem.

Once I hit the point of relapse it was the point of no return. I decided to say F**k it and express the resentment in the most destructive unhealthiest way possible, the way I knew best, to use cocaine and sit on my own, wallowing in self-pity, hating myself and punishing myself. I pulled it back for a couple of weeks, but then the lapses would get closer and closer until I got to that place again where I was using every minute of the day, all week. I didn’t have money but God I could be resourceful, things that seems invaluable became assets, cashing them in for gram’s of cocaine. The suicidal thoughts, attempts, self harm all became more of a part of my mindset, mainly because of the thoughts of not being able to get hold of my next bag and guilt than anything else, I didn’t want to die, but in that moment I felt like it was the only person.

The situation was now different to when I was in rehab last time, I had split from my wife, in turn wasn’t seeing my daughter, my house was up for sale and was back to ‘rock bottom’, even lower than I was last year and I didn’t think I could get any lower.

Despite this, despite the fact that I was locked in addiction, seemingly with no way out, something made me reach out to an old friend, someone I thought would never understand, and he reached out back. Together with me getting in regular contact with my therapist again by email on a regular basis before I knew it I was back in rehab.

I hated the idea of having to go back and see the therapists and support staff who I so confidently (and arrogantly) told that I would never be back here again, but here I was, eating a massive slice of humble pie.

I was however, much more optimistic this time after those initial feelings subsided, because I was looking at stuff from a different perspective, knowing that when I leave here I will be able to focus on myself. Meetings, therapy sessions, relapse prevention, blogging etc, just focusing on myself and learning to love myself again and forgive myself for my previous mistakes.

Looking back it feels like I wasn’t ready to let go of cocaine. I went back to a toxic relationship, when I knew it would be this way, but ignored it anyway, then slowly but surely I was setting myself up.

I’m ready to let go now, one day at a time, small manageable chunks, no need in saying “ill never use for the rest of my life” just one day at a time, it’s less daunting, then you can look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and say well done, you deserve to be happy, and then go again!

It feels different this time, this time it is different.

I’m going to be positively selfish, live the life that’s out there and love myself.






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