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2 lessons I have learnt from my 15th Relapse 

 September 26, 2023

By  Kerryn Ashford Hatherly

"What have you learnt from this relapse?"

I was asked. The complacency, the emotional triggers, the imbalance in my daily life, the boredom and more. I have been asked this question 15 times since Jan 2019. As a matter of fact, I could have learnt these things, but I have not applied enough effort into my recovery.

What are the stories behind my troublesome addiction to Meth?

What am I still resisting?

Or has my addiction taken control of my behaviours and thoughts every day?

The answer is “I don’t know” because till now, there are some parts of me which are not congruent, and I am still a student who is learning how to master his life every day. When I am choosing to walk on my path without an expectation, I gain a true awareness and consciousness towards my recovery journey.

I came to the Matrix Program for professional help in Sep 2018. The group was small, and I was so nervous and anxious about sharing my story with others because I believed that my addiction events were different from them. I had been encouraged and strongly supported by the Matrix facilitators - Michael and Kerryn, to whom I totally trust and opened myself to. I was in control of my addiction for 3 months because I was in the right state of mind - no work, focused only on my recovery, attending group 5 times a week. I had structure and received supports from my family. And we all know, life wants to challenge us unpredictably. Since then, I have had opportunities to learn more about myself and yet, I paid a cost for each lesson, relapse!  Sometimes I had to learn the same lesson more than once.

Let's look at the 2 main lessons I have learnt from my recent relapse

AUTHENTICITY

When we say something to others but it’s not right with how we feel, that’s inauthentic. When we don’t like someone and pretend to like them, that’s inauthentic. My drug use was related to sexual encounters.  I did not necessarily like the people I met for these experiences, but I was operating under the influence and controlled by my addicted brain – the limbic system. In those events, I was completely inauthentic to myself.

I could not resist the desires in me for dark experiences.

Bringing into a daily life, I was choosing to be a people pleaser as I liked to be validated and be loved by everyone. Yes, it was a kind of love I had been craving for. Consequently, I said yes to people easily without considering my energy, my agenda for myself, my recovery. I had trapped myself into the overcommitment game. I kept running errands for family, tried to squeeze time to see friends, and overworked. At night, when I came home to myself, I was afraid to face the truth within me.

I am sick and tired of this rat race because I could not love myself and nurture myself enough to become better physically, emotionally and mentally. Being authentic is teaching me how to be real to myself, and to the outer world. Living a life with my true values and saying no to activities and people that I am unable to help or be involved with. Like drug using habits, if I keep allowing my irrational brain to make decisions, I am totally inauthentic to myself and I am badly hurting myself and my loved ones again.

How well can you live with being authentic?

One Day At a Time

In our modern society, some of us are designed to think and live in the future unconsciously and forget to be in the present. It could be giving us hope, a sense of self and being in control. Particularly at this time of the year, when the pandemic has been over the globe, I was in panic and anxious about my finance, business, networking, and relationships. I kept worrying and did not do anything about it. If I could at least write down what I want to achieve every day and took actions slowly and firmly one day at a time, things would be better.

Every morning, I open my journal in which I write down three main goals I want to achieve, and plan activities thoroughly for the day. This is giving me a clarity and structure which I can manage for the next 18 hours. When things are done successfully by the evening, I feel ease and joy. And it also creates a basic foundation for my goals which I am building slowly every day.

By being in the present for one day at a time, I can generate my energy efficiently for the tasks and people I care. Moreover, I have time to engage with my emotions, thoughts and being authentic. There is time for self-reflection in my recovery journey.

Where is your focus?

learning from relapse