Mistakes, Relapses and Falling Forward



Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

– Albert Einstein

Being in recovery means trying something new.  And that means making mistakes.  We don’t have our own experience to guide us in recovery.  That is why we find guides, or sponsors, as well as reach out to others.  They help us with their own experience.  But yet we are still trying something new.

This past week I encountered something that was totally unexpected for me.  While indulging in my love of computer games, I installed a new one and began playing it.  After an hour I looked at the time, it was about 8:30.  I had just turned on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  Before I knew it, the movie was over and I was still playing.  It is almost three hours long, by the way.

I felt exhausted, shamed, guilty, and generally horrible.  The next day I continued to play it.  It felt like I was back in my addiction again.  I barely was able to pull myself away from it to go to a meeting that I was planning on being at anyway.

After talking about it with someone from the room, I committed to removing the game.  I had paid money for it, so I had some shame over that.  I got home and uninstalled it.

My mistake?  Falling into a pattern of compulsive behavior and not realizing it right away.  And then continuing the next day, even though I felt exhausted and drained.  I had the best of intentions.  I wanted to have something fun to do.  It was fun, it was also a mistake.

I tried something, and it didn’t work out.  It ended up being a mistake.  I gently pat myself on the back because I admitted the mistake, maybe not promptly, but I did.  And then I did the right thing and put that activity as off limits.  Not games, but games without an end.  I need an end.  I found out my compulsiveness doesn’t allow me to play open ended games or worlds.

Recovery itself is trying something new.  You will make mistakes.  We are all learning a new way of living.  Of living out of the shadow of our addiction.  Out of the grips of what we were.  It is a new life we are given.  We need to embrace the mistakes as well as the mistakes.

Mistakes are not failures unless we let them be.  It is not a failure to fall and get up again.  As some have said you need to be gentle with yourself.  Even when you fall, be gentle with yourself, get up and come back.  You will be welcomed and better armed for the future.  You will have learned.

I will embrace the mistakes that this new way of living brings and I will learn from them so I can be the me that my Higher Power is guiding me towards.




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