Perspective: Relapse – All bottoms have trap doors

by Mark G. (Sullivan)

trap-door-240x180To experience active addition and find release in recovery once was a blessing, but to do it twice is a miracle.

There is so much more to recovery than just attending meetings and staying clean and sober. It truly is a way of life and a path to living, not existing. Through my experience I have learned that all bottoms have trap doors, that words have meaning and that they were right when they said, “If it hasn’t happened yet, it will” if one returns to using.

After 25 years of active addition I finally reached out for help. I didn’t want to live that life anymore, with all those feelings that go along with using: the fear, loneliness, anger, resentments and stress. I wanted release, I really did. I was willing to do anything. I went to meetings, reading – no, dissecting – the books and literature, did step work many times, became a sponsor and held lots of service positions. I was willing to go to any length for recovery. The obsession to use was removed and I was released from active addition.

On the outside it looked liked it was all working but my family life was falling apart. I was still demanding and judgmental. Sure life was good, money was good, material achievement was good – but I still could not give up control. My problem was that I used the God of my understanding as a consultant. “God, please can you help me” and the help came, but I always had a better idea and would not follow through. Not a very good foundation in a spiritual program of recovery. I was still running the show.

What I have learned in doing inventories is that it is easy to identify the pile of crap on top of the cement of the soul, but once that is cleared the cement cracks and it is what is underneath that starts to seep through. The stuff that is buried so deep it has never seen the sunlight of the spirit. Memories and emotions from years, decades past came back to haunt and control my life. These emotions were triggered by rejection – thus causing fear, leading me to exert more control.

Then the inevitable happened. After five years of being clean and sober I started using – to induce serenity, to take the stress and fears of life away. I had convinced myself that I could use successfully and not go back to the place I once was. It went that way for a while but the problem is I’m an addict and one is too many and a thousand is not enough. It didn’t take long for things to escalate to the point where I was causing emotional and spiritual pain for my wife and children. I put the drugs before the welfare of my family, myself, my job, my friends, everything. Insanity personified in all areas of my life. I was oozing self-pity and the drugs became harder and using was a full-time job.

I sought treatment, but it was just a place where I could lock myself away for a while so I would not use and maybe, just maybe, turn the corner. I wasn’t ready, as I was still running the show. I continued on in this odyssey for another year in and out of the rooms.

I look back on it now and I know for a fact – not maybe, but a fact – that God was with me and doing for me what I could not do for myself. My trap door opened and he was letting me spin right out of control so I could reach the place of true surrender. That place where everything was gone, the wife, the kids, the money, stripped bare down to my soul by the broken cement to the point that death is preferable to life. It was at this point that he picked me up in his loving hands and whispered to me, “Are you ready now? For I have loved you since you were born and you are special to me.” Touched by the Master’s hand, I was now ready, I surrendered.

This time the growth has been slow and very painful, emotionally and spiritually. I was shown that I just didn’t have dependency on the drugs but on people, places and things. I had to become dependent on God only and leave the rest. Spiritual principles for a spiritual program.

The rebuilding of my life over the past few years has been nothing short of a miracle. I had been through the steps many times before but now I am living, truly living, the steps. No more 1, 2, 3 shuffle, 4 and 5 beat myself up. True change comes from steps 6 and 7, courage from 8 and 9, reflection in 10. I love step 11 and try as best I can to live in 12.

As God loves me it has allowed me to love others, to be a father to my children as he is to me and a friend to my ex-wife, and to grow to be a man who finds true freedom by not living in illusions anymore.






About the Authors

Renascent Alumni
Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email