Reverting Back

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

Relapse has always amazed me. It amazes me because I wonder how people can get sober and yet return to something that has caused so much pain, damage, and heartache? You can say they are addicted as the reason for their return and I would not argue with you. That is not the stumbling block I cannot get over. It more comes down to how they relapse. How did they get back to that place? What led them there again? Where is their support? What drove them to relapse? I guess it is one of those situations where you do not know until you have been there, but for most of us we have been there.

I am back in St. Louis for a couple of days. Originally I was suppose to be here to move some stuff to Nashville but plans changed and I do not need to move anything back rightnow. I also was in town to meet up with my friend the dentist, go to a hockey game with a friend, and get a lot of coffee with friends. Those were my original plans, but I have not accomplished a single one. In fact, the last two days the entire city of St. Louis has not done anything except for sit in their house and bake cakes. The snow has changed all the plans for many and has given me a time to rest.

As I sat around the dinner table last night my dad said something interesting in regards to relapse. We were not talking about that subject at all, more about our family, the next five years, and how it was good to be home. Here is what he said:

Everybody reverts and returns to the part they use to play

Now that might not sound that revolutionary and in all honesty anything close to dealing with relapse. But the context in which he was talking was in regards to reverting back to the parts we use to play in our family. Living in a new city on my own has allowed me to establish who I am, by myself, without my family identity. Not saying that I ever want to be known outside of my family, but it has given me the chance to start shaping my identity. What struck me about what my dad said was that in the short day that I had been at home I immediately took up the role I played the 23 years before that I lived there. It was almost like I never left.

I was watching a show last night
with my sister called “I Use To Be Fat”. The premise of the show was to follow overweight high school seniors that wanted to change their health and get in shape before they left for college. As we followed the journey of a kid who was working hard to lose 70lbs I wondered not if he would make it but how long it would last. See I think the struggle that we all go through in our life of conquering fear, chasing our dream, and making things happen is not if we will make it but if we will keep going. Fear is a funny thing, it doesn’t just go away. Conquering fear one time does not deliver that death blow that will make it disappear forever.

Earlier I was talking about relapse and how I think we have all been in that place of relapse. I think we have all relapsed back to something. Back to the place that has pulled us down, caused us to quit, made us give up. We have all been “sober” and “healthy” and in a moments time reverted back to who we once were. Maybe it is because we all return back to that familiar place where we have a role to play or maybe we like being safe (fear) rather then being driven (doing) to follow through.

Whatever causes you to relapse and revert I think its important that we call it on the carpet and hold each other accountable.

Fear causes me to shrink back. What about you?


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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • Stacey

    Two thoughts: 1. Love that you are finding you away from family. I think it’s an essential part of growing up and owning God’s plan for our lives. It’s not always easy, but it worth it. I moved away from home at 15 and had a chance to find me away from them. It was challenging, but I wouldn’t change it. 2. I think a way to prevent relapsing is two-fold: like you said holding each other accountable and, I would add, putting in boundaries. If I know my role is peace keeper and I want something different, I must establish and communicate boundaries to the people around me. If I always revert to the little sister but want to be seen as an adult, I must pit in boundaries and act like the adult. Build, communicate, and adhere to boundaries.

    Thanks for the reminder to keep moving forward, not back.

    • Kyle Reed

      number 2 is huge. Totally agree.
      It is interesting how you out of convenience for others you just go back to that role they expect. That is a tough one to work on

  • Nikomas

    Every time I head back to my hometown I feel like I enter a time warp. One that sends me back 15 years. I also find that this relapse is one of the biggest deterrents for adults helping in teen ministry. As soon as the get around high schoolers, they are immediately thrown back into their days of high school; the same feelings, the same roles, the same worries. And who wants that?!

    • Kyle Reed

      wow, I had never thought about that. But it makes sense and I am sure in your experience you have seen that and had to deal with that.
      That throws in some more thoughts to this. very interesting

  • Jason Vana

    It’s definitely fear for me, too.

    Every time i go back and visit my family, I definitely revert back to who I was when I lived there. Not too proud of it, but I think since the family dynamics are still there, it’s way too easy to fall back into them.

    • Kyle Reed

      Which its not always a bad thing. But if you fall back into that role that you had to get away from then there is a problem. I love being around my family and spending time with them, but I have to watch myself that I do not get back into the role that I played when I lived there.

  • Mindy

    In thinking over the areas of my life where I’ve relasped, I definitely think fear contributes to some of them. To other areas, I want to say that it is more of an instant-gratification type of thing. Call it pride, entitlement, or selfishness…it’s all correct, really. Rarely have I given into instant-gratification and walked away feeling good/content. If I push through that moment and not cater to my silly whims, then I usually feel better.

    A very good post!

    • Kyle Reed

      that is very true. That instant gratification always seems good in the moment but in the end never pays out what you thought it would. I think food is a great representative of this. having one more piece of cake when you know you shouldn’t never feels good later

  • Shelby

    Definitely Fear and Instant Gratification

  • Jason

    “Conquering fear one time does not deliver that death blow that will make it disappear forever.”

    That’ll preach, Kyle.

    That’s haunted me more over the years than anything else.

  • Mindy Carlettini

    Great post! As a parent, I’ve often thought about what norms am I setting for my kids?? What are the things they will fall back to?

    I think for me, it’s laziness.

  • Tyler

    Probably the only thing I’d add is that in my experience when people try to change one part of themselves without going to the deeper motivation of why that is true of them…they almost always eventually revert back.