A few months ago, when I was counting my sober days with pride and admiration, my slip wasn’t part the plan. Ironically, I had birth plans for when both of my children entered the world, and they were pointless too. I always said that I wasn’t going to be ‘one of those people in sobriety’, but the beauty of humility is that it sets you straight so gracefully. For me it’s like being a guest at someone’s beautiful southern home and they’re coming towards you with a full platter of ice tea while you take in the sunset. Then with the most lovely southern drawl, you hear a voice that says, ‘A lesson is on the way baby, shoulders back now, don’t slouch’.
Well, that’s how I picture humility.
Here’s how I slipped in early sobriety
The lesson came last weekend, in the form of me grabbing a bottle of rum and turning it to my head without a second thought, no glass required. I knew what I had done instantly. I knew that I had slipped and I knew that I hadn’t used any of my tools. I didn’t even call anyone. All I knew what that I had an immense feeling of pain and anxiety searing through my body like a hot butter knife and I just wanted relief from it. I went to bed immediately.
The next morning I arose. I knew it was a new day and I knew that I had some decisions to make. I also knew it wasn’t my day one, I’ve come too far. My sober days are MY sober days and they’re not to be thrown away like they didn’t matter. I am still protecting them.
When my feet touched the floor, I knew I need to first make amends with myself, talk with my husband, and talk with the sober community. Guilt and shame covered me like an itchy blanket and I felt like a complete failure. I thought to myself about how I’d started Sober Brown Girls, how I was planning to expand it as a business, to help other women of colour deal with their dependency on alcohol. But here I was, feeling like a complete hypocrite.
The conversation with my husband was far more uplifting. He knew what I was going through, and no matter what, he was there to support and comfort me. He told me that when I got into bed he knew because I REEKED of alcohol. He made it clear that it didn’t smell pleasant and while that might make some partners shudder because of such honestly, all I said was, ‘I needed to hear that babe, thank you!’
For the sober community, I made a post about my slip and immediately ran from my computer. Now, I’ve seen others have setbacks and I’ve seen the love and support they are showed (heck, I’ve given it myself) so I’m not sure what made me think I’d receive different treatment but thankfully, I didn’t. What I got was an abundance of sober sisters and aunties that swooped in and scooped me up into their loving arms. I actually spent most of the day crying because I felt and received an overwhelming amount of love and support that just floored me. Thank you all.
Slipping in early sobriety as part of recovery
I have realised now that slipping, or however you want to name it, is part of my recovery. I picture slipping now like a data center. Once it happens, all the data comes flooding in (I’m talking sirens, warning lights, papers flying out the printer and people running around!), so we can put on our pretty science coats and start dissecting all that robust information pouring in.
Do we look at what led up to the drink?
What was going on 24-48 hours before the drink?
What were the triggers?
Were you alone?
Did you have numbers on hand for support?
These are just a few of the many questions and observations we can examine, that I have examined this past week. This data is rich in knowledge as we advance and I already feel like my sober journey is different. I don’t recommend anyone purposely drink if they haven’t already to ‘see what will happen’ because we have to remember everyone has their organic healing path but as for me I’m sifting through the data.
My emergency call/DM list is now overflowing with contacts, I’ve joined Tempest as a student AND I’m getting an accountability coach. You see, at eight months, I thought I had it all, that I was ok but this setback showed me that I only stopped drinking for eight months and so the reality is I’ve got quite a bit of work to do.
So, school is in session. Let’s begin!
Written by Kirstin Walker
Kirstin Walker is the Founder of Sober Brown Girls, a community for WoC. Follow Kirstin on Instagram at @soberbrowngirls