Relapse happens before you drink. I love this saying I found a journal, of mine when I was first was trying to work on quitting drinking. When I was taught this saying I went back to my journal to take a look at what was going on, before I drank. And every damn time I recognized that I relapsed before I drank.
In the journal, there was a lot of hurt, a lot of anger, anger towards my husband, towards myself, feeling very left out, hating my life. Then there were the injustices, of the world that I could not change, people starving, my city I live in changing for the worse. I seemed to take it all on. It left me wanting to numb out, of course it did and of course I did. Looking back it makes perfect sense when you have anger and feeling not good enough, hatred it’s a perfect storm for drinking.
I can look back now and see the events leading up to my drinking, I also can see it in other people, a lot of time its anger/resentment/hatred that people are struggling with, because that’s what I struggled with. I watched a friend of mine relapse not long ago, and when I say watched, I mean I saw her going down the rabbit hole, she was angry at her life. I talked to her, she fluffed it off, she couldn’t see it until after. She was really lucky this time, she drank for about 3 days and got back to sobriety. I was never that lucky.
Relapse happens long before the first drink, this past month I found myself on shaky ground, but this time instead of in a journal and looking back I recognized it, anger at the world, at the manufacturing for the plastics we use, once again for my city doing nothing to fix our problems, and I was like no no no. I decided to use this anger this time for good, for speaking out for not hiding, for making my voice known, calling the city, calling out the government, by deciding to honour the anger. We are allowed to stand up for what we believe in. We do not have to be silent, we are allowed to be angry. We just can’t drink over it.
Remember relapse can happen at anytime, you just have to be aware of it, I have found some significant signs in my recovery: Anger is a huge one. So if you are angry honor it, meditate and use that anger to fuel change. Just don’t drink over it.
10 years ago when I was dating a drummer in a band (insert eye roll) and was hanging out with a faster than a soccer mom crowd. I met a woman who was in this circle, she dated one of the guys and I thought we could be friends. I make friends naturally and she was smart, fun, crazy, and extremely successful in her business.
I called her one time outside of the circle and outside of drinking to see if she wanted to go for sushi, and again one other time to go for a walk on the beach. Both times she said she couldn’t she’d been partying to hard and had to catch up on work as shit was hitting the fan and she didn’t want to drink. I hadn’t asked her to go drinking I’d asked her to hit up sushi and go for a walk. I was trying to make a friend but how she took our friendship, it had revolved around partying.
A few weeks later we were out and she was flying high as a kite and made a pass at me and when I refused, things got awkward, and out of control. I left the party, very uncomfortably.
Much later that night she called me up screaming so violently into the phone that she really didn’t need to call she could have just yelled outside from across the bridge. She had no use for our friendship never wanted to go get sushi with me and hated the fact I had a kid why in the fuck would she ever want to hang out with someone like me.
Wow I was stunned, a little hurt but I also realized that was the addiction talking. I put a hard and fast boundary around her. When she called again, which was some weeks later, my son answered the phone (welcome to landlines) and I refused to take her call and just hung up the phone. I have no idea what she wanted.
Why she popped into my head today, I was thinking of Friendships. This was the last friendship with a woman that I tried to make before I got sober. After that I tended to shy away from women friends.
When I got sober I didn’t have a lot of friends, just drinking acquaintances and I was lonely. About 4 months in I voiced out loud to my outpatient group I was lonely and everyone looked at me like yeah and? I was right where I was supposed to be. No one could tell me where to find sober friends.
This is what I teach in Fit and Sober, it’s not about finding sober friends its about creating a life you love and attracting friendships.
So off I went on the quest to find friends, follow up to my Outpatient Program, AA & Refuge Recovery but other than talking about not drinking, I never really clicked with anyone. The other issue for me was all these meetings I attended were fuelled by gossip & drama, which is so not my jam. In addition (this is second hand and just my opinion ) but anyone I know who has gone, made friends and relapsed the friends go away. It’s understandable, everyone needs to preserve their recovery and set boundaries but it just seemed fickle to me. I believe all meetings work, you may meet some great people but it’s about quitting drinking and staying sober, I was looking for friends though.
I have gone to sober retreats and the women were great and some had amazing bonds through this but that’s not what happened to me. I know I’m different, I always have been it’s one of the reasons why I drank, to fit in.
Also remember when setting out to meet people, you can have different groups for different reasons. One or two people don’t need to be everything to you for every reason.
Your inner circle needs to be and more than just the connection of not drinking
So what to do now: my sober list was exhausted almost 6 months into sobriety and I’ve met sober acquaintances but no friends. So I started working on a list of things I love to do and consistently show up.
The gym has been my therapy ( and my job) for years so I chose too take a class ( my choice was spin) and I show up 3 days a week. Guess what I met 2 friends here one is a fitness competitor and one is in recovery (yep)
I craft so I started going to scrapbook meetups
I am currently taking a photography course
I love to bike so I joined a women mountain bike group last summer
I love cats so I volunteered at a cat shelter.
I invested in a business mastermind last year
I joined a business network group
I took a cooking class
I joined a yoga studio
Joined online sober groups
You get the picture, now start your list what do you want to explore, what do you like to do that interests you?
Ok so out of all of this I have formed 5 close new friends, that aren’t in recovery, I have 2 amazing friends that I’ve known for more than 15 years, and really worked on rebuilding my friendships with but I also now have 4 close sober friends, plus a therapist that I can call on when I need to around sober people or recovery support.
Remember real friends don’t care if you don’t drink.
Comment below how you’ve made friends while being in recovery.
Don’t forget to sign up for my F.I.T. (Food/Fitness Inspiration and Teetotaler Tips)
About 7 Years ago when I decided to lose weight, I put myself on a restrictive diet (like most people do and before, I knew better), and of course that included no booze, after about 1.5 months I was out and treated myself to cocktails, cigarettes and all the food and then I found it harder to not drink and stay on a restricted diet (because ultimately real life doesn’t allow restrictive diets forever) and by the end of my drinking career 4 years later, we had moved, my stress levels were at an all time high, I was barely making it to the gym. My mental & physical health were suffering horribly. I then started to look at my drinking it took me another 1.5 to get continuous sobriety but in the mean time I worked on getting sober and got my butt back to the gym.
How fitness helped me give up the booze.
WEEKENDS: I started working out early morning on the weekends, I booked a exercise class or yoga no more mind mentality of a Monday to Friday week. I turned my week into 7 days. Not a work week & weekend. A trademark line I use all the time is your week has 7 days not 5. This also gave me days during the week to sleep in a little longer
CONNECTION: I found a community of like minded friends at the gym. Good chance that people who are at the gym at 7am on Saturday or Sunday weren’t out boozing it up the night before. In fact I’ve met 2 great friends at the gym ( one is in recovery and the other is a competitor and her lifestyle is no alcohol) and I meet up with group of regulars that ask me where I’ve been if they don’t see me.
ENDORPHINS: These are those feel good feelings that are naturally produced from exercise. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphinsalso trigger a positive feeling in the body.
RELIEVES BOREDOM: I was so bored in my first few months of sobriety, I didn’t know what to do. Going to the gym, yoga, running, swimming, all gave me things to do.
SLEEP: Exercising is tiring (especially outside) and it helps me sleep, and not sleeping was at one time an excuse to drink (to help me sleep).
CONFIDENCE: Feeling better, helps you look better, helps boost your confidence. I didn’t have a lot of self esteem or self confidence left at the end of my drinking career.
EATING: I became more conscious of eating more nutritious, whole food meals, though I still have a treat every day. I also started watching when I got Hangry, as this can be a relapse trigger for me.
ENERGIZED: Exercise helps give you energy, if you are tired all the time like I was contrary to popular belief exercise helps boost your energy.
DEPRESSION/ANXIETY: Exercise is the number one prescription for depression and anxiety, and after my initial anxiety of joining a gym or going to a new class it has helped reduce both. In the last 1.5 years of continuos sobriety, I have only had 2 mild bouts of depression ( and I believe the last one was more hormonal than anything) and much more mild than when I was drinking. My anxiety levels are very low and I never wake up in the middle of the night anymore with anxiety.
ON THE ROAD: I was worried about vacations/work travel, and drinking, but fitness has allowed me to keep a schedule while travelling, I workout at the same time I do at home, but while travelling (and I have gotten to run /yoga / soulcycle / swim/walk / workout, in the early mornings before world is awake in the most amazing places; Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Paris, Nice, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Maui, Whistler to name just a few. Schedules are important especially when travelling.
REDUCED CRAVINGS: This is a bonus Tip and it combines all of the above, and really one of the biggest benefits how fitness helped me give up the booze. It has reduced cravings. Fitness has given me something to do, with like minded people, while making me feel good, It’s something healthy do during the “witching hour” and helps me sleep all which relieves cravings.
Fitness & Health has played a big part in my sobriety journey. If you have any questions or want to incorporate fitness into your journey reach out to me. Also on my Instagram, I post lots of great exercises, food and life as well as on my Youtube channel my exercises from my free fit and sober challenge in December are posted.