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  • Writer's pictureSarah Kingwell

Navigating my inner child and ego

Today marks my 2 years, 9 months, 1 week, and 1-day milestone of sobriety, albeit with one relapse along the way.

At the beginning of this year, I had set out with the intention of writing monthly blogs to share my journey, yet here we are, in the middle of September, and that intention remains unfulfilled. In grappling with this perceived failure, an important question has emerged: Why do I find it so difficult to extend self-acceptance to myself when it comes to my relapse, despite my ability to accept other failed goals in my life?

Winston Churchill once said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts." This quote resonates deeply with me because one of my core values centers around the concepts of 'success' and 'self-pride.' In my current reality, a part of me genuinely feels successful and proud of the progress I've made on my sobriety journey up to this point. However, recently, I experienced a relapse with a bottle of red wine. It was not an enjoyable experience; physically, I felt sick, and emotionally, I was drained. I couldn't help but feel like I had failed in my quest for sobriety. While my career was flourishing, and my focus and motivation in my work life were unwavering, I was inadvertently overlooking the triggers in my environment that were eroding my willpower to remain sober.

These triggers manifested in various ways, often through interactions with others, and I found myself being pulled into society's embrace of alcohol. Alcohol remains the only drug for which people feel compelled to justify not consuming, and I grew weary of continually explaining my choice not to drink. Gradually, I succumbed to the notion that alcohol was a solution and not as 'bad' as I had initially thought. It's frustrating how my primitive self, my ego, amplified its voice, drowning out the wisdom of my higher self with ceaseless rationalizations. The desire to 'fit in' and have 'just a few drinks' overtook me.

During my first session with my therapist in over a year, it became evident that I had been aware of these triggers for months, but my relentless pursuit of success in my career had led me to push through, allowing my ego to bear the weight of these triggers. This eventually led me to believe that I could have a drink. My inner child, craving attention and the vulnerability buried beneath my career aspirations, finally surfaced, compelling me to take that drink.

My relapse has taught me that while willpower and determination have brought me this far in my recovery journey, they alone are insufficient to maintain sobriety in the long run. The silver lining in this relapse is that it has reaffirmed why I chose to live alcohol-free. To stay on course, I must now engage in inner child work, acknowledging the presence of triggers when they arise, and tuning into how my body responds to external stimuli. When my primitive self whispers, 'maybe I could drink again,' or when my rational self chimes in with 'everyone else does it,' that's the moment to pause and reconnect with my higher self.

This relapse has granted me a new level of self-awareness, a recognition of my humanity. As humans, we sometimes choose to ignore our triggers and the growing voice of our ego, relying solely on willpower and determination for success. However, in the realm of sobriety, success means being able to be vulnerable when we struggle and to embrace our human imperfections without self-judgment. As my therapist wisely stated, I may have taken a step off my path, but I'm still on it.

On this journey, temptation will always lurk, and the voices of our primitive selves may echo in the distance. There may even be further detours in the future. However, as long as we find our way back to the path we're on, we'll be okay. I am okay.

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