Another Monday, another great Monday meeting! Ten people today, the largest group in several weeks, and everyone had something wonderful to share. A meeting does not get better than it did today!
I selected a group of readings from the AA book As Bill Sees It, which all fell under the category of complacency, a topic that is familiar to anyone in attendance at 12-step meetings. Complacency is a feeling that those of us in recovery must guard against. It is as cunning, baffling and powerful as addiction itself, because it can sneak up on you when you least expect it.
Which brings me to the title of this post. At today’s meeting, a long-timer shared his acronym for a slip, which is a term people use to describe picking up a drink after having sober time. Disclaimer: I would never use this word, as it seems too mild to describe the action that is relapse, but that’s just my opinion. Anyway, today I learned that S.L.I.P. means “sobriety loses its priority.” What a great way to describe it, because inevitably if you are choosing to pick up a drink or drug after sober time, then you have ultimately decided that something or someone is more important than whatever reason you had for choosing sobriety in the first place.
How can that happen? How could you fight so hard for something, work so long to achieve a goal, and then let it “slip” away? Quite easily, as anyone who frequents the rooms of AA will tell you. Right after my meeting, I learned of two different people I know personally who chose to go back to their addiction. These were both people with a decent amount of sober time, who were very committed as far as I could tell, and spoke eloquently of how much their sobriety meant to them. I do not know their stories personally, as they have not returned to tell them, but I have heard from many who were fortunate enough to make it back after a relapse to understand the warning signals.
The first warning signal to a slip is feeling like you’ve got the whole recovery game figured out, and that you’ve won the battle against addiction. I have heard many stories of people with sober time who had a relapse, and without fail every one of them start their story by saying that they felt they no longer needed a 12-step program, that they could maintain sobriety on their own. As time went by, and left to their own devices, the reasons not to drink diminished, while the desire to drink grew, until eventually it simply made sense to believe that this time the outcome would be a different one.
Complacency is one of those topics with which I struggle, and I’m sure I’m not alone in my way of thinking. The minute I hear the word, my mind start racing towards all the things I’m not doing, or could be doing better, or used to do but have not of late. I get myself all worked up, convinced that I am a breath away from a relapse. Just as quickly, I will get defensive (mind you, this is all in my head, who needs any extra voices when I’ve got so many of my own?), and start arguing all the good I do. Then I’m tired from all the internal battling, and I wind up right back at square one. Not very productive, I assure you.
So the trick, for me anyway, is finding balance, and of course that can apply to any area of life, not just recovery. Balance between keeping recovery as a priority, and doing the things I need to do every day to keep my sobriety, and enjoying the peace and serenity that are the fruits of that labor. The greatest news about complacency: once I see I’ve started down that path, it is very easy to turn around and find my way back. It’s all about awareness… keep checking in, and I will not stray very far. Recovery, like so many things in life, is a process, not an event!
For me, the greatest antidote to complacency is gratitude. When I heard those stories, my first gut reaction was to shoot up a quick prayer for them, and to end with “there but for the grace of God go I.”
Posted on September 30, 2013, in Monday Meeting Miracles and tagged Addiction, Alcoholic Anonymous, Contentment, Divine grace, Drink, Miracle, Recovery, Sobriety, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.