Betty White is a Trigger

Yesterday is but a memory, tomorrow an uncharted course.  So live today so it will be a memory without remorse. -Unknown

Did you ever eat something that brings up a powerful memory from the past, almost as if you are reliving it?  For example, anytime I see purple grape juice, I have an instant recall of the time when I was about 8 or so, drank too much grape juice, then threw up all over my brand new Donald Duck pajamas (to give you a little insight as to how long ago that was, after I got cleaned up I sat down in front of a floor console television and watched the Donny and Marie variety show).  While this incident happened a long time ago (clearly!), I can still remember the pajamas (stained purple) as if I just saw them yesterday.

So last night I had some downtime, and flipped through recorded programs on the DVR to see what interested me.  I came across Hot in Cleveland, a brain-anesthetizing sit com that I decided was just what I needed.  As I am watching, I am feeling increasingly agitated, with no obvious explanation as to why.  I must have started to doze off, and with that I had the reason for the agitation… the last time I watched this particular program was, to say it plainly, the last time I was not sober.  Suddenly, that entire last evening played out like a movie in my mind, exactly what had happened, exactly what I did, and, most disturbingly, exactly how I felt that night.  While this recall lasted probably less than a minute, the feeling was so intense, it left me off-kilter for quite a bit longer.

In AA people use the following words interchangeably:  thoughts, urges, cravings, obsessions, compulsions.  Yet they are not interchangeable.  The best explanation I can give for the process an addict goes through is… a thought comes to mind, the thought leads to an urge to satisfy the thought, which leads to a craving for a particular substance, which leads to an obsession to drink or use, which finally leads to the compulsion that is the relapse.  The time is takes someone in active addiction to go through those steps is a quarter of the time it took you to read the sentence.

I get on my knees every morning and thank God for removing the obsession to pick up a drink or a drug.  While last night was painful, I am also grateful for the reminder of where I have been, and how far I have come.  Having said that, I think, for now, I will remove Hot in Cleveland from the Series Recording section of the DVR…


Posted on December 14, 2012, in Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Keep on fighting the good fight. Its worth it


  2. Oh wow – I love that progression. I shared yesterday that I was angry that I felt like drinking last week. I want to be rid of these cravings permanently. My sponsor was saying that I shouldn’t beat myself up because I’m an alcoholic and the cravings are normal. That sent me into more of a spin because, what?!? I’m going to have to deal with these impulses for the rest of my life? What she said is kind of along the lines of what you explained here. That as my sobriety solidifies, it may just stop at the thought.


    • Thank you, and I agree… I frequently get frustrated even by the thoughts. When I do, I consciously try to recall what “it used to be like” when I had thoughts… meaning, in about half a minute, I was into action, and into relapse. So now I just thank God it stops at a thought.


  3. You gave a great example of the process of craving. Thank you for a wonderful post!


  4. Great job of breaking it down. So true that process can happen in the blink of an eye. Enjoy your blog a lot- thank you!


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