FALLING INTO DARKNESS TO FIND THE LIGHT – Slipping but Not Sliding in my 3rd Year Sober

This is a story I hoped that I would never have to tell, but telling my story, including the triumphs and the failures, is the accountability that has helped me stay sober. Nine days ago, in my third year of sobriety, I slipped hard. I drank to a dangerous level, even though I have a toolbox full of sober tools I’ve learned to use to handle cravings.

I thought that I was solid in my sobriety. I understand self-care and self-compassion, and I no longer crave alcohol nor do I have any interest in moderation. I’ve been successful in meeting all my “firsts” with staying alcohol-free. But even with all of this sober muscle, nine days ago I left my mother’s apartment after caring for her. I was angry, hurt, and humiliated because of her behavior towards me and other caregivers. My mother and I have a difficult relationship and in response, even in this 3rd year sober, I slipped.


YES!! I blew through everything I know about staying sober. I blew through HALT , exercise, reading , writing, reaching out to my community. It was like an out-of-body experience. It was like I was blackout drunk walking but I was stone sober!

I walked right into the liquor store, and after over two full years of sobriety, and into my third, I bought a 350 ml bottle of whiskey!

I don’t even drink that stuff! Wine was my poison. All my brain was saying to me was “TURN OFF”. I wasn’t even thinking in full sentences. This has never happened to me before.

I went home and over the next 5 hours, I drank all 350ml mixed in cola. I couldn’t even feel the booze until I blacked out and drunk-dialed my mother. Then, while lying on the bathroom floor, I called my husband for help to come sit with me because I was so scared I would stop breathing. My saint of a husband sat with me until 2 am when I was finally able to move and get into bed.

The next morning, I was horrified! I didn’t understand what happened to me and why. I felt like I was physically attacked, but I actually attacked myself!

Of course, I had the shame and remorse for breaking my sobriety, but this was different. It was a dark pit of fear and panic that I had lost my soul. This felt so much darker than a slip. It was a crash. I was terrified that in the beginning of my third sober year, I was looking at a full relapse.

For two days, I couldn’t even put my experience into words. I cried because I was so scared of what had happened. I think I was scared of dying. I was scared that it could happen again.

It has now been 9 days since my slip. I have done a lot of soul searching, and so far this is what I learned:

I learned to never take your sobriety for granted. I think my brain went into panic mode, and the old coping mechanism took over. I know my off switch is forever broken; however, I learned from reading this week that if a person hasn’t had any alcohol for a while and then binges, it can be life-threatening. I think I was VERY close to alcohol poisoning and needing to go to the hospital.

Be aware your next binge could kill ! 

My biggest question after I calmed down was WHY ????

I am still searching; however, I realized this week that in this 3rd year sober, I’ve reached a level of normality with never drinking that was working most of the time. I have no concerns about slips or relapse because sobriety is comfortable for me now. However, I never really dug deep down into my soul and worked through healing old patterns of behavior when my buttons are pushed. I am still reacting in my wounded child mode. I am also very aware of how codependent I am and how dangerous this is to my sobriety. I have done lots of reading, but intellectualizing is not the same as putting the concept into action.

I have read that around 2 years or so of sobriety, it is time to address deeper issues of why we drink and how we need to overcome these issues in order to have long-term sobriety. Something I am reading right now which is really helpful to me to heal from this horrible experience is LET GO NOW: Embrace Detachment, a Path to Freedom by Karen Casey. I am also exploring the effects of growing up with an emotionally unavailable mother.

I tend to think about life in seasons.

Each season has an opportunity for growth in different ways. For example, in spring new growth comes forth after the seeds from autumn have fallen to the ground. In the sleepiness of winter, they gain strength for the new growing season. In spring the seed sprouts new growth and becomes a beautiful plant which in the summer can be appreciated for its flowering beauty or eaten as a fruit to nourish our bodies. Come fall the seeds once again form and burrow into the soil and rest for the winter and so the cycle repeats.

So right now I am in the winter season of my sobriety. The last 2 years have been seasons of growth and recovery from alcohol controlling my life and my relationships. When I was new in recovery I focused on staying sober and learning to live without using alcohol to numb my feelings. I remember all my “ sober firsts “and the anxiety that came with them and then the strength and confidence I felt when I successfully met them.

I learned to sit with all those raw emotions stored up in my body and soul just waiting to be released.

So here I am now starting my 3rd year of sobriety with all these emotions and looking for a way to heal so come spring new growth can lead to a peaceful beautiful summer harvest.

I know if I don’t heal old wounds my recovery will not be sustainable long term. Resentment leads to anger and these emotions keep me from growing into the best version of me that I can be. I have so many issues to work on in my 3rd sober year, this winter season. I especially have a strong desire to release the feelings of resentment and anger. Sometimes my anger scares me. If I don’t learn to release the anger I risk another slip and possible relapse.

So you ask how do I rid my heart and soul of anger and resentment?

Well for me it’s not easy. In fact, it is so far the biggest challenge to my recovery.

It is a very simple word but yet it can be so difficult to achieve.

I must forgive those who have hurt me. I hold resentment and anger towards them because of this hurt. In my season of winter, I must forgive so that I can again experience the growth of spring and reap the summer harvest of long-term sobriety.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean I pretend what has happened to me never happened.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean the person isn’t accountable for their actions.

Forgiveness doesn’t even mean they understand how they hurt me or that they ask for forgiveness or even want forgiveness.

Forgiveness to me means I understand the hurt I experienced was real. However, it is in the past and is something that can never be undone therefore I must forgive so I can move on in life and not be stuck reliving the past over and over and not being present for the one precious life I have now.

Forgiveness gives me the power to put past hurts where they belong and destroy the power anger and resentment hold over me. If the person who hurt me isn’t even aware of the damage done then my resentment only hurts me as they go happily on their way not giving a thought to their actions. I don’t want to miss living my life because I am stuck in resentment.

Forgiveness forces me to humble myself and not live with a self-righteous attitude.

The person who has caused me so much anger and resentment is not perfect and did not have a perfect life either.

We are all products of our past and family of origin. I am not perfect and have made mistakes so if I humble myself to my imperfections I will realize I need forgiveness as much as the person I am forgiving.

In my situation I am not able to discuss my hurts with my mother whom is the cause of my pain. She is very old now and doesn’t remember. I do put up healthy boundaries on her current behavior. However, boundaries without also forgiving her doesn’t stop the resentment.

I have learned not to punish myself by drinking in order to numb my anger and resentment.

I am a work in progress and I am gaining strength.

I do know if I can forgive I can keep my hard-earned sobriety and most importantly my heart will not grow hardened.

I believe extending forgiveness is the ultimate act of love to ourselves and to others .

As I rest in this season of winter I work on planting the seeds of forgiveness to grow in myself. I slipped but I will not relapse in this 3rd year sober.

Come spring, my hope is new sprouts will grow and blossom into a summer season of forgiveness.

After I reached my goal of staying sober I always felt there is still something missing in my sobriety. Now I know it’s time to heal from the WHY I drink. I don’t have all the answers but I do believe I must truly search for what is still burning in my heart and really find peace with it so I can truly forgive, heal and continue to grow in my own life journey and in my sobriety. I am so grateful to be in year 3 sober and I will not let go

See my Sobriety Tool Box Here

More thoughts from year 3 sober :

Loving Life Takes Practice – Living Joyfully in Year 3 Sober

My Beautiful Mind at 1,000 days Sober

My Precious Sobriety – Taming my Raging Inner Child

It’s Never Too Late to Change- Perspective from 3 Years Sober

Recommended Listening :


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