I recently had a conversation with a man who had been sober for almost 40 years. Then, through an unfortunate string of events, he sat down with a six pack of beer. "The first three tasted like sh_t," he said. "But by the last three, I just didn't give a d_mn." He did not blame the circumstances, by the way, but fully acknowledged the choice he made.
Think about that a moment. What do you next? The great temptation is to say, "I've blew it. I'm back to zero. Why bother starting all over again?" And then to keep on drinking.
We might think that a better alternative would be to minimize it. Another choice might simply be not to tell anyone else, and go back to our meetings like nothing ever happened. Except for a person who is in recovery, this isn't a choice. Honesty is everything (truth is, honesty is everything for all of us, but we often don't admit that to ourselves. That's what is called denial). Something did happen. To pretend like it didn't, to be less than truthful with those who love us and support us no matter what, is the path back into hell.
But to admit that after all these years--all these years!--we've thrown our sobriety away... Man, what humility that would take. What courage in the face of such formidable shame.
But the next day, that's exactly what he did. He was faithfully back at his meetings, starting all over again. "I'm two months sober," he said.
I told him that was one of the best stories I've ever heard. And it was.