Grateful Awakenings - Guest Writer
In our sleeping dreams we sometimes find ourselves walking down the street without any pants on, sitting down for a school exam without having studied at all, or riding in the backseat of a car driven by a three year old. For the person in recovery, there is a special kind of dream that can bring a lot of worry and confusion – the “relapse dream.”
Just like the dreamer who fails to notice he is nude until he is already at the civic center cross-walk, the relapse dreamer suddenly discovers that she is sitting in an opium den where gun smugglers are passing her a shot of whiskey. Whether it is a glass of booze, a hit off a pipe or a line of powder, the dreamer goes for it. There is little consideration of her hard-won sobriety. There is no prospect of saying no or walking out, much less calling her sponsor.
Just as quickly as the dreamer finds herself in the pit of temptation, she suddenly discovers that she actually did not want to take that drink, hit or snort. The realization of her relapse comes like a cold, hard slap. All is lost, destroyed, abandoned. At this point, the dreamer usually wakes up (often panicked), and gradually realizes that it was all a dream. Thank God, thank God the dreamer declares! It was only a dream! Yet, despite the enormous relief that she did not actually use, there remains a nagging, disturbing emotional residue.
If I dream that I have “gone out,” part of me wonders whether (a) the dream is some kind of prophecy or (b) the dream reflects my inner most desires. In either case, I would be in trouble. I can’t seem to shake how easily, thoughtlessly I picked up. Is that who I am? Is that how it will be? Surely, if I focus on these things, the dream will do nothing but distress me, like a bad omen to a superstitious person.
Instead, if I focus on the fact that I woke up in sheer terror and revulsion from this dream, I can see it as a gift. A reminder of my gratitude for my sobriety, how much I cherish and value it. If I remember that immense relief I feel when I realize it was only a dream, then the dream has done its job. It is not to warn me of the dangers of a slip. It is to show me how much I truly love my sobriety.
Sometimes, a person in recovery will start to experience a number of these dreams in a short period of time, over days or weeks. In that case, something might require a closer look – am I keeping questionable companions? Have I let my program lapse? What Step am I working? An honest review will indicate whether adjustments are in order. Otherwise, let the dreamer rest assured: “this too shall pass.”
(From Kathy L. "Namaste'. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.")
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