Being afraid of relapse is not the same thing as relapsing

I have a cold. my colds are never very bad, or long, 3-4 days maximum. they thankfully don’t turn into ear infections or require antibiotics.  they’re just garden variety head colds.

But having a cold is NOT good news for me, because i’ve had 2 before, since getting sober, and i know that both previous times i got a gigantic case of the ‘fuck its’ and decided to drink again. i set a date 7 days into the future and said “i’m drinking then.”  and then the cold goes away, and the date comes and goes, and i remain sober.  thankfully.

But there’s something about being sick that gives me a feeling of despair and woe-is-me.  i usually still run if it’s only a head cold (versus a chest cold). and running always makes me feel better.  I usually still work, jobs #1 and #2 and my passion job #3 thingy.  having a cold doesn’t keep me from getting things done, but the internal dialogue, the noise in my head … man, it ramps up into a frenzy.

During my 24 hour mini-vacation on the weekend, i could feel the cold coming on.  and i had an mini-anxiety attack to go with my mini-vacation… “oh no a cold is coming, you know what that means, better get prepared, get some meals ready, get your sober supports in place, get the catering wine out of the fridge (done!).”

Today is day 2 of said cold.  and while last night i had a very teary, despairing moment about this blog (!) and about the AA ideas of ego (what do i know about that? i’ve never been to AA!), and fleeting despair about the sober challenge … well, let’s just say i got scared.  I tried to explain it to my husband but he’s a normal drinker so he just doesn’t get it, though he does try really, really hard.

I said “what if i start drinking again? this team 100 thing? it’ll be a disaster.” And husband is like “yes, but you won’t.”

Me: “But i feel sick, so maybe i’ll just start opening the wine and drinking.  i could do that right now.”

Husband: “and you won’t.”

And he’s right. i won’t.

i think i learned something concrete last night:  Being afraid of relapse is not the same thing as relapsing.  In fact, being afraid of relapsing is probably a good thing.  it means i’m aware, i’m conscious.  I start to circle the wagons sooner.  i’m afraid, and therefore i read blogs online, i get the house cleaned up, and i get my cold medications ready.  i empty the fridge of catering wine and i go to bed and sleep 11 hours (again, last night).

i also know, deep down, that i won’t drink. But i gotta tell you i really hate feeling like it’s a possibility — even if the feeling is temporary.  I have a good cry and and big sleep and it goes away.  thank god.

Today is day 290 for me.  That’s 6,960 hours of sobriety, give or take. i’ve had 2 colds already and i have survived. i will survive this one.  This is not the zombie ap0calypse. it’s not worth drinking over.

frankly, nothing is worth drinking over.

hooray, cold medicine is working well today, and after 11 hrs sleep i feel significantly better than i did last night.  and that’s good news.

And every day I wake up to a some delightful sober messages, like these ones, please keep emailing so i can keep sharing:

J: “You know, in all the years of trying to quit drinking, your advice of going to bed RIGHT NOW is the most effective I’ve ever heard – sounds silly but it absolutely works, so thanks!”

Julie: “Ok, Belle, I’m sorry, but I laughed at “evil pig fucker”!  You (we) made it through … fuck you wolfie.”

MG: “I can’t describe this feeling.  It’s just an uber calm and peaceful sense.  Like I can’t believe how many years I was an anxious dreary mess.  And how excited i am to be moving on with this new me.  Again, the church message (hard to explain unless you were there) was kinda alluding to that “one thing” that you know needs fixing.  And I have heard that message time and again and WANTED to do something.  And finally I feel like I am.”

Terri: “… The question of whether I will stay stopped or not is still rattling round in my head … I joined [the challenge] because my original goal of 90 days was looming and I couldn’t figure out what to do next … I still get pangs sometimes, but compared to the beginning when it was a white-knuckle ride, I can brush them away much more easily.  At the moment because the answer to this eternal question is not definitive, I am not drinking.  I don’t want to throw away what I’ve achieved unless I am absolutely certain I can either manage it or jump back on the wagon without falling off a million times.  I read a great quote the other day – alcoholism is just death on an instalment plan. That is powerful and really stopped me in my tracks.  So in answer to the question what is better now than it was in the beginning – not having to work so hard to surf those urges is probably the best, waking up clear, sleeping more soundly and feeling better about myself for finally keeping a promise I made to me.”

Team 100 update:  We now have 36 people on this sober vacation, welcome to newest members: Lauren (23), Brandy (7), Sunny Sue (42), and Cindy (who is on day 2). I’d like to hear again from SoberinMtl, Vivien, TMcA, and Leigh.


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • So glad I saw your blog just from a google of “afraid of relapse”. I’m a recovering meth/cocaine addict, almost 4 years now. I still have the itch every now and then. It felt good to read (and gave insight) fear of and actually relapsing are not the same thing. The fear makes you think. Really think. Then, the itch passes and I’m relieved and proud I didn’t cave in. Alcohol or drug addicts are very much the same. We may fool everyone but ourselves.

  • Hope you are feeling better soon Belle!
    I say kick wolfie in the ‘fucking’ kneecaps. (amy you crack me up thanks for the laugh)

    I agree that being afraid of relapsing is a good thing. I am afraid of relapsing! The women before me say you never want to get too cocky and think I got sobriety mastered! cause if I start thinking that way it will land me in a pile of shit.

    A woman in the rooms tonight did just that. Relapsing and landed herself in ICU for a week w/ a BAC of 3.8. The doc said a BAC of 4 and she would be dead.
    Yup, gonzo.
    Sorry to be a bummer. All I know is I need to remember B4 and focus on today.


  • Great division between the fear of relapsing and actually relapsing. Two totally different things. I go on a very tall bridge or balcony and I have the fear of falling. As long as I stand behind the fencing and don’t do silly like try and walk on the railing, I am pretty safe. The fear is strong, even if the reality is nowhere near it. That is common to everyone, but especially for our kind. So I acknowledge the fear, and then move on. I sometimes have to talk to someone about it, and others times I pray for it to be removed. but it could be a good cry or just a moment of quiet and pause and realize “I am going to be ok”. Or bad TV. lol. Thing is, is that we fear fear and we make it bigger than it needs to be. But I like how you bounced back.

    As for your 100 – it’s a wonderful thing and you have a whole ton of great women who are supporting one another, and in the end, it helps to keep you sober yourself. Accountability and leaning on others can be a great asset in recovery. We all have doubts about our blogs, don’t we? I just assumed so, because I certainly do about mine. Oh dear I do. : )

    I hope you feel better. I know I feel better reading your stuff : )


    • thanks Paul, have missed you the past few days! you’re right, you’re right, you’re right. shall I continue? you’re right, you’re right, and then again you’re right again. thank you. you have a way of being sensible and calming at the same time. I’m sure all the girls tell you that! While I don’t go for too much bad TV (thankfully we are tv-less), I do go to bed very early when I’m feeling crappy. cuz to me, a good sleep fixes most problems!

  • Sending you cyber-get-well vibes to get rid of this crappy cold. Alcohol-poison would just make you feel lousy anyway, all dehydrated and dried out. You need lots of soothing tonics to boost you up, not some shit that is going to make you sicker ; ) Staying scared of relapsing is GOOD. Getting too cocky about how clever we are is like stepping in quicksand. I’m staying on the hard ground of certainty, it feels safer here.

  • Oh dear oh dear… I hate to think of you having teary fearful anxious moments about this blog and your role in the challenge of all things because those are both such wonderful POSITIVE things. And I am really sorry you have a cold too.

    But, I completely agree that in a way this is a positive realisation overall… it means you have gotten better at recognising your danger spots and strengthening yourself BEFORE they occur. When I had that experience recently – of realising something was a danger zone and battening down the hatches beforehand instead of after drinking – it felt like a really positive growth spurt.

    I almost hesitate to say this because I do not in any way wish to sound like I’m saying it would be ok if you drank but, you know what, in a way it would ultimately be ok because I trust that you would still find your way back, that you’d apply your wisdom and insight to realising where you went wrong and how to do it better the next time and you’d still be our beloved and fearless leader.

    Having said that, DON’T YOU DARE FUCKING DRINK.

    Fucking Wolfie! I will kick his knee caps for you right now. KA POW. Take that stupid Wolfie and stupid cold germs too.

    : )


    • you are hilarious. thank you for this, really you’re amazing! so long as I strengthen my danger spots before they occur, then I will continue on just as I have been … SOBER. I can’t imagine what would have to happen to knock me off. A head cold? certainly not. though I may despair and cry and feel miserable, I will not drink because of it. I will, though, go to bed at 8:30 pm if it suits me … and I will walk out of your boring “drinking” parties and I will take a bath in the middle of the day. I will say “fuck you” to wolfie and I will continue on… All is well : )

  • If being afraid and feeling vulnerable keeps you here, then that’s a good thing. God help us if you ever figure it all out! Thinking I had it all sorted before just led me to believe I could handle the boozing again. I’m better off when I’ve got the “fear of God” in me!
    Oh I mentioned God twice, that’s worrying…for me ; -)

  • I ADORE YOU!!!! Cake and sleep. Cake and sleep. Repeat. Then go for a run. I will eat yogurt pretzels in your honor. And pretend that they’re cake. : ) xoxoxoxoxo

  • You are a rock star Belle. Hope the cold goes away SOON and that you are feeling better quickly! Take extra good care of yourself today…and I will do the same on my end : ) Thanks for all that you contribute here in the sobersphere!!!

  • Thank you much for your post! I can relate so much. For me alcohol was a cure all, there was no pain that alcohol couldnt make feel better; headache? – gone!, cold? – gone! Pms?- gone! I wasnt just numbing internal feelings but the physical ones too! It was a great surprise to me to find out that a cold made me want to drink! It was tough! The sleep thing does work great. I am glad you made it thru and I hope you keep hanging in! And I hope you get better soon!