Sober and Miserable
The pink cloud. It is a well-known term in recovery circles. People say that once you put down the drugs and alcohol that life gets better and the “pink cloud” shows up where food taste good again, the air smells fresh, and life just takes on new meaning. This is true in many ways as when we stop destroying our minds and bodies, things do get better, but there is one thing they do not tell you and that is that everything does not always get better, only some of the things do.
The questions we get when we talk about an issue or pain we are struggling with are the same. Are you working the steps? Do you have a sponsor? Have you done your 4th Step? Are you being of service? They ask these questions because it is thought and most of the time true that when you do not do the work of the program then life does not get better. There is good reason why they put these questions out there, but what about when you ARE doing all of that and are still absolutely fucking miserable?
It happens. People do not want to admit it, but it does happen where people are doing all of the things they are supposed to be doing and working an honest program and they are still depressed, lonely, and just lack joy in their lives.
How do I know it happens?
I know because I personally experience it. I work the steps, I have a sponsor, i call my sponsor, I take his suggestions, I go to meetings, I am of service to others and I still am lonely, depressed, and lost. Of course, things are better in so many ways now that I am clean and sober, I no longer am a slave to the bag or the bottle and I have God in my life today and live a life of purpose on a daily basis.
Things are better. However, the pains I feel are real and they are difficult to navigate living life on life’s terms. Just because someone is in pain doesn’t mean they do not work a good program. Perfection and the absence of pain is not promised to us. We just learn to deal with life and all the challenges it throws at us without getting loaded. I hate the cliche sayings sometimes as when you are in pain, they are not very helpful, but at other times they can be very helpful.
One of the ones I hate the most when I am going through it is “This too shall pass”, my response is always, yeah, fucking when? No words help when you are in a dark place, but the absence of words makes you feel more alone than ever, so you just never know. The pain doesn’t pass until it passes. If you are lonely then you will not be rid of that loneliness until you meet someone and the same is true if you are hungry, it does not go away until you eat.
They say it is a “simple program” but the solutions to life’s problems are not simple if you are caught in the pain, in the fear, in the doubt. We have to fight for those solutions, we have to battle for our peace of mind and our sanity just like we had to battle for our sobriety when we were drunk and high, it is an ongoing, daily struggle too.
Never, ever minimize someone’s pain or struggle as it is very real for that person and to minimize it is to dismiss their pain as not valid or important and everyone struggles and to them each of their issues is real and it is a real pain that can destroy them if not dealt with. We must let them express their pain, help them to understand why they have these pains and fears, and love them right where they are at.
Do not judge their faith or program or tell them they are doing something wrong as they are doing the very best that they know how to stay clean and sober and handle their personal struggles. We all started someone and we all have something that blocks us off from growth, for some that something may be a mental illness or a loss they cannot get over or a fear that will not go away no matter how much they pray and for others it could be something else but for everyone it is real and it should always be validated.
AA/NA and other programs save lives and work wonders but they do not fix all of our problems. People clean up and then their core issues suddenly are the biggest problems that they face, when it was the substances before that kept them stuck. People who work strong programs and do what is asked of them in recovery still have pain and suffering and these feelings are real and should be acknowledged always.
Instead of asking why is this happening to me, we need to ask what can I do to change/fix it and instead of telling people who have these issues what they are doing wrong in their sobriety, help them to get over these problems and tell them what they are doing right and encourage them to keep going as we all have an issue, and our issue is important to us, we all should just love people where they are at as WE were once there and needed compassion, help, and understanding ourselves.