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I Stayed Sober & She Relapsed…Why?

Remember that friend I talked about last week? The one who I was inseparable from? The one who ran into the boys’ apartment to get water to put out that fire?

Well, she called me not too long ago. We haven’t spoken in a LONG time, years at least I just celebrated seven years of continuous sobriety (yes, weekends and holidays count!). She just got out of treatment…again.

It sucked to hear that. I was so bummed! Here’s a woman who did almost all the same things as me in early-sobriety. We got into trouble together. We got better together. I stayed sober. She didn’t.

Why is that? Why was I able to stay sober for years (and hopefully continue to stay sober for many more), while she relapsed?

relapse in early recovery

Ultimately, I don’t know. I have some ideas, but they’re only ideas. I’ll share them with you below. I’ll also share the story of the first time she drank and how much that crushed me.

Chronic Relapser

I should probably mention two things here. First, my friend’s name is Cindy. It feels weird to keep calling her “her.” Second, Cindy’s a chronic relapser. Since I’ve known her, she’s gotten high a handful of times. And those are only the times I know about.

I say that not to bash her at all. I mean, I was a chronic relapser for a long time! It wasn’t until I started working steps and getting to know a God of my own understanding that I stopped relapsing.

Even then, I’m not sure why I stopped relapsing…which brings me to the story of the first time Cindy relapsed.

We’d been living together for around six months at this point. The fire incident was long behind us. By now we were both heavily involved in the twelve-steps and bettering ourselves spirituality.

In the months we were living together in the halfway house, we saw roommates bounce in and out. We saw girls relapse almost instantly. We saw them do well for a while before taking that first sucker drink. We even saw girls get kicked out while being stone cold sober.

Coming Home Drunk

Cindy was in the same sponsorship family I was. We didn’t have the same sponsor but our sponsors were sponsee sisters. So, I guess we were sponsee cousins? I’ve never been able to figure out how the whole sponsorship family system works!

why did i stay sober and why did she relapse

Like I said above, we lived pretty similar lives. The one major difference is that she was involved in an unhealthy relationship and I wasn’t. Now, that isn’t to say I wasn’t ever involved in unhealthy or codependent relationships. I definitely was!

She came back to the halfway house one night reeking of alcohol. She was a wreck. She said her boyfriend broke up with her and, instead of going to a meeting, she went to the bar.

I called her sponsor who said she would be right over. I called our house manager (who was 100% my guardian angel by now). We sat out front, smoked cigarettes, talked, and waited them both to show up.

Cindy ended up not getting in any trouble from our halfway house. The owner knew she was trying to do the right thing and screwed up. He sent her to a detox just to be safe, but that was it.

Not too long after, like maybe two months or so, she drank again. This time she went off on a run. I didn’t see her for a bunch of months, until she showed up at our home group to pick up a white chip. She’s been in and out ever since.

Why’d She Drink?

Here’s where things get complicated. I honestly have no idea why Cindy drank and why I didn’t when I was in a similar situation.

I know, you’re thinking she drank because she was in a relationship without first being spiritually fit. I don’t know though. I’ve heard people say that before and it’s always sounded a little fishy. Like, does God punish people for not always doing the right thing?

I just can’t wrap my head around that. It seems too close to the idea of a punishing and vengeful God. My God isn’t like that at all. My God is loving, caring, and always has my back. I have to believe Cindy’s God was the same.

I don’t know. I mean everyone has a God of their own understanding, right? Maybe her relationship with her Higher Power was different. Maybe I was just lucky and Cindy wasn’t. Maybe she made a bad decision, set off the physical allergy, and the rest was history.

All I know for sure, with 100% certainty, is that I thank God regularly for my sobriety. I love Cindy and will always love her. She’s like a sister. Still, I’m very happy that she was the one who drank and not me.

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