The thing that impressed me the most during the time we spent together was a statement he made about his relapse. He said something to the effect of: "I didn't hurt anyone other than myself when I went out."
But I pointed out to him that he wasn't being honest. Many people were hurt when he picked up. His family and children. His employer and other associates at work. Those who respected his length of recovery. Those in the 12-step programs. We all feel a loss when someone falls.
His focus though was less on his relationships and more on material things. He pointed out that he hadn't stolen from anyone. That he hadn't asked anyone for anything. And that he'd turned his income, what was left of it, over to his wife.
His conversation was about reasons as to why he relapsed and, sort of indirectly, who was to blame for it. Everyone but him.
But for those of us who've been sober for years that line of conversation doesn't work.
The reality is that if we're truly in recovery there are no acceptable reasons for relapse. But there are plenty of excuses.
I've had plenty of excuses to relapse over the last 27 years of my recovery. When my wife attacked my daughter with a knife a year ago and destroyed our marriage. When I developed neuropathy in my feet 10 years ago. When I had a cancer scare a few years ago. When I lost my mother and brother in my early recovery.
All of these were - and are - emotionally painful events. But I faced the pain without drugs or alcohol.
And that's because I know there are no good reasons to relapse. Just excuses, which is how we lie to ourselves.
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