Testing the Waters

A euphemism common to A.A. meetings – “Anybody coming back from testing the waters?”  Meaning, has anyone gone back out into the drinking lifestyle, for any amount of time?  The question is posed at the start of every meeting, following the procedural readings.  Asking the room at large relieves some of the pressure for any individual who may have recently relapsed, but is trying to get well again. It can be a difficult and humiliating experience to share that despite your best efforts, the disease got the better of you and you succumbed to its depths.

Personally I have not seen this happen but maybe twice in nearly three months of attending daily meetings (an encouraging statistic, in my eyes).  “Relapse is a part of recovery” – also commonly heard, not only in the rooms of A.A. but in professional counseling as well.  This sentiment, however, is widely debated.  I try not to buy into it; it would be too easy a back door for me, to be able to tout that “it’s all part of the process.”

Regardless of where you stand on the relapse/recovery debate, the important thing to remember is that you can ALWAYS come back from a relapse.  Even just the one drink can lead to a slippery slope of the fuck-its, and before you know it you’ve hit bottom again.  So instead of berating yourself over it and falling into destructive patterns, the proper course of action is to accept reality for what it is and jump right back into recovery.  The program will welcome you home with open arms.

Mocking Scott Stapp’s vocals may well be one of life’s greatest pleasures. “WIRR AUMMMZ WHYY OPANNNN!”

Another animal-analogy: so you’re out on the open ocean, but you’re standing safely in your recovery boat.  Perhaps after spending a while living on the boat you become bored or careless, and believe yourself to again be an able-bodied swimmer.  So you dive into the water.  As you surface for air, you find you’re still alive & well, treading water with no problem.  Suddenly, the unmistakable dorsal fin of a great white shark emerges nearby.  Holy shit!  This is crazy.  The logical thing to do would be to climb back into the boat without haste…but you fancy yourself ready for an adventure.  So you reach out and grab on to that dorsal fin with both hands.


And just like that, you’re swimming alongside a great white shark.  You feel equal parts fear and elation as the shark dives deep – this is exactly the kind of dangerous thrill you live for.  But the longer you hold on, the less oxygen you retain.  You start to panic – to let go would leave you so far down you’d surely drown; you believe your only hope is to hold on, that by some chance the shark will decide to surface again.


Even if you manage to make it back up, both your body and your mind will be in an extremely weakened state.  The shark will ultimately eat you alive, whether you release your grip at the surface or in the dark depths of the ocean.  Regardless of where you choose to let go, you can’t hold on forever.  There is only one way to save yourself: to call out for help.


Oh shit! Shark ate the blog.

A crew member from the boat will immediately throw you a life-preserver; all you have to do is grab on and allow yourself to be pulled back board.  This is how relapse and recovery work with one another – if you are willing to let them.

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