Bridget’s Relapse Recovery Story
When I left rehab for the first time just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I thought that in many ways I had closed the door on my old addictive life. After all, I had completed Hader Clinic Queensland’s ninety-day program, had a taste of recovery, reconnected with my children, and had transitioned successfully from face to face to Zoom meetings with the arrival of the pandemic.
You could have said that my first year of recovery was going well. I had a good home group, I was participating in the “give back” program with Hader Clinic Queensland and I was involved in service within my group as well. Additionally, I had gone back to full-time study.
However, something began to change. I was dealing with a few health issues and there seemed to be a shift. I could not put my finger on it. Before I knew it, I had relapsed.
It’s easy to look back in hindsight, but at the time, I did not realise it was happening. I felt pressured and that all the other aspects of my life were caving in.
Looking back, I can clearly understand that my head picked up before my hand did.
After my first stint in rehab, I considered myself a success story and my ego put a ton of pressure on myself to maintain that façade. Yes, I’m driven and perfectionistic and I wasn’t about to show any weakness. My ego considered that to be embarrassing.
I would listen to tales of relapse in meetings and think, “that will never happen to me”.
Of course, when the rug was pulled from underneath me, I didn’t want to admit defeat and go back to rehab, but it was the best thing I could have done.
When I arrived back at rehab, I was initially very angry with myself for allowing myself to relapse.
However, my thirty days was a great refresher. It was comforting to realize that I hadn’t lost the basics of the program, but rather, that I was able to work on aspects of the program that I had missed, because relapse forced me to see everything differently.
It’s been twelve months since I completed those thirty days and since then I haven’t looked back. Second time round rehab taught me humility, and to be compassionate towards myself.
Having all the staff being so warm, wonderful and compassionate – and importantly, sharing their relapse stories made me feel better.
I also understood that when I came out, life wasn’t going to be roses – and it wasn’t. I had to deal with life on life’s terms and there was some tough stuff to deal with.
My relapse experience has seen my connection with my spirituality deepen as well as my connection with others in the program. Now, I am no longer afraid of sharing when I am feeling a bit rough.
This experience has also seen me speak freely about my addiction experience with family and friends who have no real knowledge of addiction. Before, I used to hide it a bit. Today, I am out in the open.
I have completed six months of study, qualifying in a Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs and Mental Health. It’s time to leave my job as a teacher – which feels strange as that’s all I have ever done. However, my intuition told me very strongly that I didn’t want to continue.
Since my relapse, I haven’t been in contact with my children.
The old me would have wallowed in self-pity and used it as an excuse to drink. I now know what this means and I just don’t go there anymore.
Something that has helped me was a quote I read six months into being clean this time around. It said, “never give up, because you never know if the next try will work”.
This has rung true in my battle to reconnect with my kids. My case went to trial and I represented myself in court. It was pretty full on, with both solicitors and a barrister in attendance. I prepared for this day as much as I could.
I’m so glad that I did, because that “try” meant that my ex-husband and I were able to negotiate a good outcome. Initially, I never imagined that I would be able to do it. We negotiated the nature of the time I would spend with our kids and a pathway to move forward with them together.
In the future, I want to be able to help others who encounter the same situation as the legal process can be daunting.
Since my relapse, I have learned how powerful addiction is and not to be complacent.
I’m a realist. I know that I’m not cured.
I take one day at a time. I can’t say that I’ll never drink again.
However, I can say that I know that I’m not going to drink today, and that I’m not going to drink tomorrow either.
It is easier for me than the pressure of “absolutes”.
I remember staff member, Maya, telling me that the days abstinent turn into weeks and then months turn into years.
I am enjoying sobriety. I have more fun, am more active, play sport and regularly go to the beach. I engage, rather than just watch.
One thing before we finish up – I wanted to stress that I did not relapse because the program “didn’t work”. The knowledge and tools l learned really messed up my desire to keep drinking – and relapse has helped me.
I’m looking forward to a new career in AOD counselling and a move up the coast.
Hader Clinic Queensland was there for me the whole way and I cannot thank them enough for getting me back on the right path.
Life is good!
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