I’ve planned and executed a relapse for over a year. It started in Barcelona in November 2011 when I slipped up after a mere five months of sober time. I admitted that to the people I love most, and I started all over again counting the days. I didn’t drink again until Copenhagen the following year, and while I felt an awful guilt after both occasions, I chalked up the incidents to being out of the country. They didn’t really count.



I picked up again last summer, the second theoretical anniversary of my sobriety. It was, once more, an out-of-town experience. But I drank enough to be wicked to my sisters, with whom I was vacationing, and to feel like utter shit. Still, I never brought it home. That made it ok.

Fast forward. Accelerating signs: the slow withdrawal from NA and AA; the loss (or purposeful relinquishing, I don’t know) of writing as an outlet; the poisonous thinking that alcohol wasn’t really the problem; the good stressors of a new house and a new position at the company I’ve been with for five years.

SXSW is probably the worst possible place for me to go, ever. I went. On the plane, I said to myself that I wouldn’t drink: This is domestic. If you excuse drinking here, you’re done. Don’t fuck up. I did.

I remember a glass of gin with a cucumber prettily placed on the rim, and I remember hating it. I know that I was confused, that I became lost. I know, only from an early-morning phone call from the woman who somehow acquired my credit cards, that she put me in a pedi-cab around 10pm. I am certain that I wandered for hours, but it may have been 5 minutes. It is a mad blur that only an alcoholic recognizes.

I have barely made it through the past three days. The hangover was killer. The shame and guilt have been far worse. I am embarrassed, but not just about slipping. I am embarrassed that I have not been completely honest all along. That everyone believed, with no objection from me, that I was a blazing light of sobriety. I have rationalized and justified my behavior. I have told half-truths.

Writing this down is not something I thought I would do. What I would have preferred is to hole up my house with Sex and The City reruns and a blanket – for a few weeks.



But it feels better to tell. Whether it’ll feel better or worse after I’ve shouted it out here, who knows? I’m chancing it.

It’s a funny (haha?) thing because I have no conscious craving for alcohol. I don’t want it. I just got lax and lazy and believed that it was time to test the waters again. How stupid, you fucking alcoholic. The waters are never safe. I knew that, but I sold myself the same lie over and over again until I halfway believed it, long enough to pick up a drink.

This is my rigorous honesty. This is me admitting that I have a terminal illness. This is me saying that I am shitfaced powerless over alcohol, that I fell down, and that I’m working on getting back up.

“I once heard a sober alcoholic say that drinking never made him happy, but it made him feel like he was going to be happy in about fifteen minutes. That was exactly it, and I couldn’t understand why the happiness never came, couldn’t see the flaw in my thinking, couldn’t see that alcohol kept me trapped in a world of illusion, procrastination, paralysis. I lived always in the future, never in the present. Next time, next time! Next time I drank it would be different, next time it would make me feel good again. And all my efforts were doomed, because already drinking hadn’t made me feel good in years.”

― Heather King, Parched



Filed under Recovery

10 responses to “relapse.

  1. Libbet

    Useless as it is, *hugs*

  2. Don’t beat yourself up too badly. I just finished reading “A Piece of Cake,” and in it someone says, “You have a disease that tries to tell you that you don’t have a disease.” It is just part of the spiritual malady, physical allergy, and mental obsession. That is the very nature of alcoholism. Every time someone goes back out, it is a reminder to ALL alcoholics how close we ALWAYS are to succumbing to our disease. One of the promises says, “No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.” That being said, you may not realize how much your honesty has helped or will help someone out there who is struggling, maybe even me. So, I appreciate it. Hang in there. Get back into your programs. And work some damn steps, lady! You got this. I’ll be praying for you! Sending you some love love love! 🙂

    • sarafraser

      “You have a disease that tries to tell you that you don’t have a disease.” Incredible. Thank you for stoppin’ on by and for this comment. It helped. Pray on.

  3. Denise

    I must have been very hard to write, but you did. And accomplished much–honesty to yourself and others, a fresh start and perhaps most important, you’re writing. It is a disease. It is rampant in our family. I believe in you.

    • sarafraser

      It’s hard to write in that I don’t want to come across as… pitiable. That need competed with the need to be honest to as many people as humanly possible, and the honest drive won out. Thank you for commenting, and, more importantly, for believing.

  4. Sara,
    I’m a long-time reader of your blog, I have no idea if I’ve commented before but I felt I needed to react to this. I’m sad for you that you’ve let yourself down, but I wanted to let you know that you’ve not let the random strangers who read your blog down, because what keeps me coming back is the brutally honest and clear way you write down whatever is happening in your life, just the way it’s happening. I love your use of words and imagery, the sense of determination you bring to whatever the heck it is you’re doing today. Thank you writing even when you don’t want to do it, and thank you for remaining honest, even when you’d rather not.
    So, have a Dr. Pepper today and think of us in reader-land (unless you hate Dr. Pepper, but the sentiment is there).

    • sarafraser

      First things first: I love Dr. Pepper. :>

      I’m so glad that you read and that you find some value here; that means a lot, and I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I try to be brutally honest — there are times I come back and read something and inwardly groan at too-much frankness. I’m glad that it’s received well, and again, my thanks for the support and for the comment and for making my afternoon a little sunnier.

  5. Jonathan D.

    I got misty-eyed. I love you. That is all.

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