What do Relapse Dreams Mean?
When I start to miss meetings, I start to get complacent and uneasy. These feelings are often followed by drunk dreams, or what I call relapse dreams. Not the, ‘oh I had a random drinking dream.’ These are the dreams that are so vivid and so full of the fun and excitement that was once the early side of my partying days. But inevitably they always turn to the gross and negative side of my addiction.
These relapse dreams always start with the great time I was having, right before I started to get really deep in to my addiction. I’m the life of the party, buying drinks for everyone, we are telling jokes and slapping each other on the back, all the attention is on me (which I loved, when I was drinking).
Then suddenly these dreams turn very dark. Quickly, my life unravels. Within minutes, I am alone and terribly depressed about everything. I start to let everyone down; friends start to distant themselves from me. I’m consuming mass amounts of drugs and alcohol and the fun is no longer there. I’m miserably obsessed with more, more and more. I can’t say no and I can’t stop. My mind is playing a trick on me. I have a moral reservation to stay sober, yet my alcoholic mind wants me to desperately drink and use drugs. Welcome to the constant battle that I deal with daily.
The next scene in my relapse dreams: I am in an AA room and every one of my sober brothers are in there. All eyes are on me (not in the good kind of way) and I’m sharing that I had slipped up, I relapsed. Uh-oh – I suddenly realize that this is a first step meeting for me, the guy that just celebrated several solid, amazing years of recovery. I am embarrassed, ashamed of myself and my actions. I am guilty, worn down, beaten up and am hysterically emotional. I can’t stop telling my story, but there is really no beginning to it, as to why I slipped up. There is no rhyme or reason on why I started drinking in my relapse dream. There is not explanation. This is what frightens me. The dream has no conscience part of why I decided it would be a good idea to drink again. This is the scariest part of the dream because my reality can not be too far from this, if I am not careful.
I wake up in a panic. Thank God, my reality is that I am, in fact sober, and have been for a a couple handful of years. The sweat is still on my forehead and on my palms. I am trying desperately to go back and determine if I really did have a drink and slipped up. I’m begging for forgiveness already. It’s always one of those dreams that take a few hours out of your morning to make a few calls and reflect heavily on whether or not it was real. I call my sponsor and a few sober friends, I share the dream, we have a few laughs and a few grateful moments… It’s always decided that after these dreams, it would be best to get to an AA meeting right away.
These relapse dreams are good for me in a way. They force me to ‘play the tape out.’ Here’s how playing the tape out goes for me: So I might be able to have a few drinks at a bar with friends that first night. Eventually, maybe that night, maybe the next night, I’m going to want more drinks, and then eventually I am going to want to do drugs. Then, for sure I am going out every night looking for more, more and more… My life then instantly gets turned upside down: I lose my company, I lose my wife, I lose my family and I won’t be able to make my house payment. All the money I have saved for a ‘rainy day’ is now gone..to feed my addiction. It takes me about 5 seconds to go there in my mind. It’s so helpful for me and my recovery to imagine how quickly and how messed up my life can get by simply picking up just one drink!
If I start to get away from AA meetings, I start to get uneasy and my mind races to an uncomfortable place. If I stay connected to the fellowship and to the program, my dreams are much more vivid and much more sober. I am grateful for my sober life and these relapse dream reminders keep me grounded.