Someone in the program who’s been there only a week longer than I have had a lapse on Monday. I worried about her a bit on Saturday, knowing she was going to a wedding. On Sunday she didn’t turn up to the OA meeting we had talked about going to, and with no explanation, either. This morning I heard from her: They hadn’t been allowed phones at the wedding, so she didn’t get my text. She felt exhausted from the party – too exhausted to make it to the meeting – and then binged on Monday. I’ve been there so many time – getting through the worrisome event, only to fall down in the next 48 to 72 hours.
I confess I felt a little scared at the power of this problem – the sheer enormity of it. Usually I don’t binge when I’m being watched quite like this, and certainly not in the first couple of weeks. (And not when I’ve moved my life and spent an awful lot of money for treatment.) But there but for the grace of God go I, right?
I’m starting to think about extending my stay here until at least the six month mark, because that’s a point of freedom from bingeing I’ve never reached. I’ve made it to 100 days; I think maybe even four months. But then it all has fallen apart. There was a lecture at treatment today – more of which, shortly – about relapse. One of the things that struck me was that it’s not considered relapse if you do it after 90 days of abstinence – because relapse starts four to six weeks before the actual episode (in terms of thoughts, feelings and behaviors), you haven’t actually been in recovery long enough to call it relapse. It’s just that you didn’t recover.
Our homework this week is to come up with a list of quite-specific-to-us thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are signs we’re in the relapse zone. I know mine will be things like not cleaning the flat, eating while walking, isolating, staying up too late, and thinking I’m too busy to get to meetings or do recovery-type-stuff. Red flags, if you will. So far this lecture was by far the most useful and interesting, and certainly the most practical.
We also had the first (at least for me) life story, which went on for over an hour. It was a moving story – given by an alcoholic – that I don’t think is right for me to share here, even anonymously. What was terrifying (and fitting for today) about it was that she had 8 years of sobriety before her relapse. One thing she said that is a warning for me is that one of the treatment programs she did was in Arizona, and when she came back to London, she didn’t have any recovery friends.
Finally, I bought the Victoria sponge. Tesco sells them as two mini ones, so I’ve had one tonight and will have another tomorrow. Is this the best version I could have bought? No, but it was pretty good and didn’t require a lot of going into various bakeries and looking at things and wanting them all. Baby steps.