CrossTalk is based on the premise that recovery life is polytely: frequently, complex problem-solving situations characterized by the presence of not one, but several, endings. This writing represents decades of recovery and its application to life and how to get over it, into it or through it with spunk, levity and a good dose of reality. What? You want more than happy, joyous and free? Get over it. Just sayin’. – Mollé
Mollé: I’m 28 years old, unmarried with no children. I’ve been in the military for nine years and have been seeking recovery since April 2012. I’ve relapsed six times – now back in the program nine days. I have no idea who I am. – Military Man
Dear Military Man,
I have some questions for you. Here goes.
What has been the hardest part of getting sober for you?
Do you think being in the military makes it easier or harder to stay sober?
Both. I don’t have a normal job. When I make an irresponsible decision, there are a lot more penalties involved, especially when you’re in a command position – more people can get hurt or die. It’s really hard when I’m deployed.
Why did you get sober this time?
During a deployment, I drank after seven months sober. It was my birthday. My CO pushed and pushed – said that I hadn’t drunk in months and that I “deserved” to have a drink. I regretted drinking. My CO regretted it, too. I was a wreck for two months. I can’t live that way.
What do you wrestle with most?
Double standards of life. I have to be one person when I have the uniform on and someone else when I don’t. And I don’t know who I am in a meeting. It starts wearing on you. Who the @#$% am I?
It’s hard to find my own place in recovery. People in meetings share about such obnoxious stuff. They have no idea who I am or what I’m about. I don’t even know. I start questioning why I am even here.
It’s hard to find the similarities. Now I go to agnostic meetings and have found a lot of military guys there. It’s weird. This week I found a sponsor there.
The holidays are around the corner. What are the challenges to staying sober?
Social pressure – work parties, friends and especially my family. I want to drink more when I’m around my family. But there is also more recovery to be had, too. Everywhere you go there are positive things going on, if you look for them.
What do you think would be the first thing that might drive you back out?
When I first get sober, life gets a lot better quickly. I lose weight; I have more time, more money; I play better guitar; and then the program starts to wear on me. I start thinking how I don’t fit in; and maybe I’ll give drinking another shot. Maybe this time it will be different. I forget how bad it was.
I start slipping away from the program and arguing with my sponsor and friends. I get angry and resentful at everyone. I disconnect.
I have to stay connected to stay sober.
What makes this recovery different?
I don’t want to feel like that again. I can’t keep doing this.
Hi Mollé: My daughter is in early recovery, and I want to ask you what I can do to help without trying to “fix” things. She lives five states away, and is coming home for the holidays. I am in Al-Anon, and my daughter has a sponsor. But I really need to hear from an alcoholic woman in long-term recovery about the needs of a woman in early recovery.
She sounds good and happy. As much as I am excited to see her, I am nervous. I know she is responsible for her recovery. I am not feeling guilty; I just want to learn as much as I can and support her and our family – without controlling. Is that even possible? – Mother of the Alcoholic
First, how about asking her what she needs to feel comfortable. Sometimes it is the simplest approach that works the best – kind words, honesty and no expectations. That is likely what her sponsor is saying to her.
Every alcoholic reacts differently during the holidays – with or without being around alcohol. The words “family” and “holidays” alone can raise the anxiety level. I would bet that if you do what you need to do to keep yourself balanced during her visit, it will probably help her in more ways than you can imagine.
I’ll end with this. Don’t take her actions or inactions personally – easy to say, but difficult to do. Her sponsor may have told her what my sponsor said to me when I went home for the first time, “You can leave anytime, from anywhere, for any reason. Staying sober is your first priority. You do not get to be mean, loud or unkind. You simply can leave and go somewhere where you feel ok, safe – maybe a meeting, a friend’s house or an early plane back home.”
You daughter’s behavior is not about you.
The viewpoints shared or any implied actions suggested by Mollé, are the opinion and ideas of the author only and do not represent those of In Recovery Magazine. The implied action is offered openly and is never intended to replace the advice of a health care professional. If you’ve got a question for Mollé, use the following form!