There’s a common phrase at our weekly group:
“Be careful, lest you fall…”
A man told us, of the guys he’s seen, the most often guys relapsed was during their 6-12 months of sobriety. Sure, before that time period and after that time period, the guys could still return to old habits, but for whatever reason the 6-12 month timeframe was when guys faltered most often*.
He didn’t explain why this happened. Maybe it’s because anniversaries can place just enough stress on a guy to trigger him back to old habits.
Either way, I saw it in our own relationship.
My husband said marriage would take care of his porn problem, because, he said, he didn’t** struggle in his first marriage. And he did pretty well our first 6 months. Then he faltered over and over again… and it was several years before I found out about it.
A while later, he got clean for 6 years, only to relapse after about 8 months on a new stressful job.
And I have to admit, even now after another 6 years of sobriety,
I watch his face sometimes when he doesn’t know it,
wondering if he will falter again.
I mean, he’s never gone much further than 6 years.
I think he’s being careful so he doesn’t fall,
but then again, he’s had another major career change recently.
Sometimes I wonder how long this one will last…
wonder if he’s lying to me again.
It doesn’t hit me in the gut like it used to (thank God!), but the thought crosses my mind every few months–and definitely at his anniversaries.
In those moments I have to return to what I know to be true:
I am going to be okay, no matter what he does.
I really am.
This is how I’m “careful, lest I fall…” I have to be careful where my mind goes, especially when there are none of the old signs.
And I’ve learned if it starts to bug me, he’s okay with discussing it. So we do. We talk about it. Not the old one-line-answer conversations, but real discussions about what is going on with him and his sobriety.
And also we talk about how I’m doing, and what’s causing my fears. And we talk about us, how we’re really doing.
That’s how we remain careful, lest we fall.
*This guy had also seen studies saying it takes 3-5 years for a guy/couple to get solid footing in this new way of life–so he didn’t recommend people starting to mentor others too soon, as it could tank all their progress.
*Let’s just say, back then he wasn’t completely honest with me about this.