I relapsed this past weekend after nearly six months of blessed recovery + sobriety. After acting out, it didn’t feel real. I wished it was a dream. I hate this.
I’d forgotten how difficult getting up can be after falling down like this. I didn’t miss the feeling.
Discouragement came quickly once I became willing to accept my relapse, as did a plethora of whispered lies from the evil one:
“You knew you wouldn’t make it. You knew you weren’t good enough.”
“You’re worthless. All that progress and you threw it away.”
“Your wife and daughter won’t love you anymore.”
“Why try again? You’re likely to fail. Why go through with it? It won’t make a difference for you anyway. You’re too broken. You can’t be fixed.”
Sometimes I wish the devil had a body so that I could punch him.
I thank God for Sidreis Agla’s bravery and testimony (read her blog here). I got her book, “By the Light of Grace,” on Kindle nearly twenty-four hours before I fell. Saturday night after acting out I started reading it. I couldn’t put it down! I eagerly finished reading it the next day. It was like reading my own auto-biography about my addictions and life. Certainly, our lives aren’t the same, nor are we; but her analogies and terminology fit so perfectly with what the Lord has taught me so far. Her testimony is powerful!
The most significant part of her testimony that stuck onto my heart and wouldn’t shake off is her audacity to keep trying. She never gave up, even when it seemed logical to do so.
Within the twenty-four hours leading up to my relapse, I learned that my two sponsees had relapsed also. I talked with them both and they were willing to start the program over. They wouldn’t give up.
After my relapse I contacted my sponsor. He informed me that he had relapsed recently, too. He said, “It is what it is. I have something more to learn, so I’ll keep working the steps” (paraphrased). He won’t give up.
It’s as if Father in Heaven knew I would relapse at this point, so he surrounded me with brothers and friends who He knew would show me the way. Their tenacity inspires me. It moves me to turn to my Deliverer again and trust in His mercy and love for me.
Still, finding courage to get up again is remarkably hard. It’s hard not to feel like a failure. It’s hard not to replay my stupidity over and over again in my mind. It’s hard not to keep it a secret and try to bury my ugliness. It’s hard not to feel like a fraud when I see the pain in my wife’s eyes again. It’s hard not to feel hopeless.
I just want to do the right thing. I don’t know if I won’t relapse again, but I’m willing to work the steps. I think I have more to learn.
My new sponsor shared the following thought with me tonight after we met on the phone. It was given by Dieter F. Uchtdorf in a general conference address a little over one year ago (read the full talk here).
“It can be discouraging at times to know what it means to be a son of God and yet come up short. The adversary likes to take advantage of these feelings. Satan would rather that you define yourself by your sins instead of your divine potential. Brethren, don’t listen to him.
“We have all seen a toddler learn to walk. He takes a small step and totters. He falls. Do we scold such an attempt? Of course not. What father would punish a toddler for stumbling? We encourage, we applaud, and we praise because with every small step, the child is becoming more like his parents.
“Now, brethren, compared to the perfection of God, we mortals are scarcely more than awkward, faltering toddlers. But our loving Heavenly Father wants us to become more like Him, and, dear brethren, that should be our eternal goal too. God understands that we get there not in an instant but by taking one step at a time.
“I do not believe in a God who would set up rules and commandments only to wait for us to fail so He could punish us. I believe in a Heavenly Father who is loving and caring and who rejoices in our every effort to stand tall and walk toward Him. Even when we stumble, He urges us not to be discouraged—never to give up or flee our allotted field of service—but to take courage, find our faith, and keep trying.”