Relapse is Optional
We took a newcomer to our AA meeting out for coffee.
Our new fellow had identified as ‘coming back’ in the meeting, and everyone welcomed him enthusiastically. All the men talked about the courage needed to come back and admit to a slip.
Over coffee, we learned that our new friend was experienced in admitting to a slip. He had been to AA meetings before, and through six different treatment centers, two of them twice. During the past years, he had a couple of six-month intervals of sobriety. But most of his sober episodes were shorter in duration.
He was from a wealthy family, which explained the nice clothes, good car, and the treatment center frequency.
The other guys took the lead in the conversation, one of them joked, “I hope you realize that relapses are optional.”
I was more attentive to our newcomer than usual. If I had not been paying such close attention, I might have missed our pigeon’s reaction to the reference to relapses being optional. His reaction startled me. He was, for an instant, angry; irritation flashed across his face like a bolt of lightning. It was there, then passed. It was so fast that I don’t think he was aware of it. I would have missed it, except I was paying attention.
I was taken aback; it seemed that he was, for a nano-second, angry that someone would say such a thing to him. And the anger, though brief, gripped him completely.
He quickly recovered, laughed, took a sip of his coffee, and said, “of course, relapses are optional.” But the unprotected flash of anger intrigued me. It was fascinating to think that he would be irritated by such a statement of the obvious.
By the way, he rejected our offer of sponsorship, the idea of coming to our group’s Step Study meeting on Saturday, and said he did not need our phone numbers.
I think that for him, another relapse is optional, but probable.