A Harsh Reminder

When I first got sober almost two and a half years ago (I had a relapse at six months), I came across the website Crying Out Now, which shares stories of recovery and of those struggling with substance abuse. I soon discovered that it’s founder, Ellie, also had her own blog called One Crafty Mother. As I got further into my own recovery, I communicated with Ellie and at one point had a portion of my story featured on Crying Out Now. Later, Ellie founded The Bubble Hour, a podcast featuring discussions about sobriety and interviews.

I related to Ellie and in many ways looked up to her. She was like me – mom, wife, otherwise pretty “normal” person – and alcoholic. If she could get sober; I surely could. Over the past couple of years, I’ve followed Ellie’s journey, becoming one of the most well-known sober bloggers and online recovery advocates.

I hadn’t heard or read anything from Ellie in a long time (time is all relative in the sober sphere) and I had this nagging feeling something was wrong. A couple days ago my fears were confirmed, when I came across a recent post from Ellie. She had relapsed and after spending two months in inpatient treatment, was currently living in a sober house with three other women.

I have hurt a lot of people over the past few months. I lost myself, and instead of asking for help, I thought I could tough my way through it on sheer force of will. I was so, so scared, but I kept madly weaving myself a tale of strength and hope, instead of admitting that fear had me by the throat. I would like to say I should have known better, but the irony is that all the knowledge in the world can’t help against addiction. I forgot about God. I took my will back.

Her words hit me like a brick. I sat there, staring at her post in disbelief, but also in fear. Because, if she could relapse, so could I. It was a harsh reminder that no matter how much sobriety we have; how well-known we are; how respected we are; how far we’ve come since that last drink – we are always an alcoholic just one drink away from going right back to where we began or worse.

I’ve been feeling comfortable in my sobriety – maybe a little too comfortable. I haven’t been going to meetings, I haven’t been reaching out to other women, I haven’t been talking to my sponsor – the list goes on. I haven’t been feeding my sobriety and that is a dangerous place to be. Because, I know from stories like Ellie’s, that when we stop feeding our sobriety, our all-to powerful self-will starts taking over. That little voice that says, “I’ve got this; I don’t need any of that other stuff.” And, that is a very, very dangerous place for me to live. Because, eventually, that voice gets louder and it takes over the voice of God.

Yesterday, I had what we often call in recovery a “God shot.” I was on an important “business” call and all of a sudden the call got disconnected and my phone was ringing, as if I had hung up and called someone else. A woman answered on the other end and I said, “Hello, hello? Who is this?” And, the woman said “Hi Chenoa, it’s Dana. You just called me.” What?! Huh?! Dana was a friend from my recovery program who I hadn’t talked to in a while. I quickly explained what had happened and said I would call her back after I finished with my original call.

Later in the day, Dana and I talked for a long time, catching up on our recovery and life in general. We both struggle with reaching out to other women in the program, and we agreed that we needed to get together soon. She had been spending time with a few women who she thought I would enjoy. After we got off the phone, I got a text from her asking if I could make it to the 5:30 meeting tonight. I think I will.

I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. I believe that God puts certain people and situations in our life for a reason. God knew I needed that “God shot” yesterday from Dana. And, thankfully, I’m at a place in my life where I can recognize that, listen and take action.

I’m saddened by Ellie’s story. But, I’m also grateful that she has the courage to write about it and share her story with others like me who might need a wake up call…before it’s too late.

 

13 responses

  1. Ellie was the first sober blogger I found~ took me 3 years to finally do this~ She is my inspiration before and still is~ teaches me to never let my guard down and no matter how low or high my personal bottom is, it can and will get worse unless I stop drinking. Sobriety is long term~ and always needs to be “checked up on”. THanks for sharing!

  2. I am embarrased to say I hadn’t heard of Ellie before this. I had heard of the Bubble Hour, and only heard the one with some of our fave sober bloggers, so I am new to her story. I was just there and read and commented on her tale of relapse and comeback. Thank you for directing me, and others, there.

    What you said about no matter who we are, how much time we have, how well known we are, etc. and being only arm’s length from a drink is bang on. My sponsor hammered this into me for a long time until I finally got it. Seeing those guys with 20+ years still doing service, hitting meetings, sponsoring, etc…and hearing how they struggle with life at times…it put it all in perspective. We are all the same in so many ways. There is nothing unique about you or me that puts us above God or stopping doing what brought us freedom from the mental obsession.

    When I get complacent (and believe me, I DO get complacent big time), I suffer. I get off kilter. I get antsy. I get itchy. I get angry. I get fearful. I lose sight of God and I get caught up in ME. And me is not a good place to hang out with for long. I see that, and yet need reminding of that.

    I would love to say Ellie’s story is uncommon. It isn’t. At all. And like you, I can see that that could be me too. Doesn’t matter how many followers we get, how popular we are, how much we “know” about addiction, how good our house looks, or what car we drive, or how we sound in meetings…we can be in that living hell, bottle in hand, once again. And I don’t want that.

    So for me, it’s been about being more regular at meetings, reaching out a bit more (even when i don’t feel like it), meditating and praying. Reading. Doing little things and bigger things for people. Getting out of my comfort zone. Giving Him the power and let Him run the show. Because I suck at running my show 🙂

    Thank you for this, and I LOVE that God shot. Ain’t no coincidences – just God being anonymous.

    Blessings and glad to see you post again

    Paul

    • Thanks, Paul. Glad I could direct you to Ellie’s site. She’s had a big influence on a lot of women (and some men as well I assume). I’m praying that she gets through this and is even stronger after. I think you nailed it when you talked about getting out of our comfort zone. I’m trying to get better at that. I try to tell myself that if I’m feeling a little fearful or scared about doing something – I should probably do it. Thanks for stopping by. Always good to hear from you!

  3. Chenoa,

    I cannot remember when I gave up drinking. I think it was 2009, but I’m not sure to be honest. I never went to an AA meeting and so never got involved in the ‘counting down the days’ way of thinking.

    However, I do remember when I had a relapse. It was 2011. I had just gotten divorced and I was in Las Vegas when I had this ‘wtf’ moment. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. I gave up drinking to save my marriage, it broke and so why shouldn’t I have a drink now? Who was going to like boring old me?

    Relapsing was the best thing that happened to me. It made me realize that I was full of shit. I used to tell people that I would never drink again. I don’t do that anymore. But relapsing allowed me to have a second view of what I was trying to achieve. I was curious to see what would happen, after I had realized the illusion of benefits that alcohol is supposed to provide. Drinking, the second time around, just made me feel pathetic. All it took was one word from my little boy and I stopped instantly and haven’t had a drop since.

    Why?”

    I couldn’t answer him.

    You are being too hard on yourself Chenoa. I think you should cut yourself some slack. I believe I was an alcoholic. WAS being the optimal word. When I started drinking again I wasn’t an alcoholic. There was more control around what I was doing and my intake had severely reduced.

    I have just read a post where a man said he was an alcoholic – and then followed the statement up with “I have been sober for 32 years’. This made me so angry. Who taught him to think like this? There’s no way you are an alcoholic if you have not had a drink for 32-years. No way on earth.

    There are a lot of people who return to drink and have a very different outlook on life. Not everyone goes back to the way they were. I don’t think I would have, for example. I certainly didn’t think that way at the time.

    I have not drunk alcohol since 2011 and I am not an alcoholic, and neither are you. You are an incredibly strong, brave and sometimes vulnerable young woman. You are NOT an alcoholic.

    Not anymore.

    Lee

    xx

    • Hey Lee. Thanks for your thoughts and kind words. This is good discussion and something I would like to address in another post. I love that we all have our own, unique journeys and can constantly learn from each other. Good stuff!

  4. I totally understand what Lee is saying. No one wants to forever be a recovering alcoholic. We want to be RECOVERED alcoholics, or simply cured. I look at it more like remission from cancer. Remission doesn’t mean cured or even cancer free. It means that the signs or symptoms of the disease have decreased or disappeared but there can still be cancer in the body. I like to call myself a numbaholic because alcohol isn’t the only danger in my life. I could also shop, eat or sex myself back into chronic disease if I’m not vigilant in my self-care. I’m an alcoholism survivor. I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse. I’m in shopaholic recovery. These labels are just words but words that describe my reality and keep me on the recovery path. Very thought provoking post, Chenoa.

    • Thanks, Karen. I tend to agree with you. I would love to say I’m a “recovered alcoholic,” but that will never happen. Like you, I have to be very diligent in my ways because the “oholic” in me can always transfer itself into other areas of my life.

  5. Thanks, Chenoa. So true – what we feed grows. I’m thinking to my self now – “I’ve been forgetting to feed my _____” – cause Lord knows I’m prone to wonder off.

    I appreciate you and this Ellie. Hope you enjoyed your meeting. Here’s to God shots!! 🙂

    Best,
    eg

  6. Thanks for posting this. While I am not an alcoholic, I’ve come pretty close at times…and managed to pull myself out with the help of my faith. After giving it up for Lent, I’ve pretty much had total victory over the lure to dull pain by alcohol. Lately with a struggle I’m going through, the temptation has been there to dull the pain again. And this reminds me that I can never be lax about it–especially as an adult child of an alcoholic.

  7. Pingback: Hell-ish. - Amy Knott Parrish

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