When we first entered the program we burned with a fire of commitment. We just loved going to meetings. It was so liberating being able to share our deepest feelings openly with the group. Learning that we were not unique was also very helpful. Listening to others and identifying deeply was validating for us. Physically we could feel our health improving on a daily basis. As we immersed ourselves in the program we created an expanding social network of friends. Our relationship with our sponsor evolved into something that we tapped into on a daily basis.
Over time, much of that initial pink cloud began to wear off. As we reintegrated ourselves back into our lives, more and more distractions arose. Obligations of work and family began to seep in. Meetings began to be skipped. Calls to our sponsor went unmade. Hopefully at this point our sponsor had a heart to heart with us. Basically he or she told us that our sobriety had to come first. Experience of countless others who came before us had shown this to be true. When people said they had a daily reprieve, this was only because they had worked their program that day. If we didn’t keep our sobriety our priority, it would in short order be lost.
Personal Reflection: Do I keep my sobriety first?
It’s Not An Old Behavior If I’m Still Doing It
When it comes to our drug of choice we can be very definite about what we mean by the word recovery. If alcohol was our problem, we have stopped drinking. If drugs were our problem, we have stopped using. If food was our problem, we have stopped eating compulsively. Once we get into other areas of recovery, the waters become more muddied. Emotional, and spiritual recovery are not so black and white. Many of our old behaviors predate our fall into drug and alcohol use. In early sobriety we might assume that once we put down our substance, all of those character defects somehow magically go away. We might even make statements like, “l never get angry, jealous or fearful since I entered the program”. That pink cloud of early recovery quickly gets burned away with our first emotional tirade. As we get honest, we no longer feel comfortable categorizing character defects as old behavior. We are able to make a more accurate assessment of ourselves. We still do certain negative actions, but far less frequently. We are also less reactive to old triggers. We are more comfortable saying, ” I’m becoming more conscious of how that behavior no longer works for me and I’m working on changing it”.
Personal Reflection: What negative behaviors of mine are really not old?
We used to blithely state that we had it all together. The fact that our lives were often in turmoil was ignored. There were health issues.which were frequently neglected. Many of our relations were in shambles. Work issues came up on an almost daily basis. Yet, with all of these challenges we failed to see that we were asleep regarding awareness of self and the reality of our situation.
As newcomers we often encountered what old timers refer to as “being on a pink cloud”. Free of alcohol,and drugs, we felt better than we had in years. Much of the drama and chaos dissipated as we grew in sobriety. Somewhere along the way, that pink cloud faded and our character defects rose to the surface. For many of us this was a bitter pill to swallow. Weren’t we in program? Hadn’t we become involved in working the steps? We learned humility as we came to understand that no one truly has it “all together”. Yes the program, could help us to grow spiritually and emotionally; but recovery was a lifelong endeavor. It was only through the collective knowledge and experience of others in the program that we got a glimmer of the possibility of significant evolvement.
Personal Reflection: What has the program taught me?
As beginners we gratefully acknowledged our powerlessness and the unmanageability of our lives. For a period of time many of us experienced the “pink cloud” effect. We seemed to be in a state of flow and felt a conscience contact with G-d. Then somewhere along the way, that pink cloud lifted. Although now “sober” a lot of our old thought pathways and behavior patterns returned. We longed for that initial relationship with our Higher Power that we had experienced in early sobriety. What had happened to G-d? Why did we no longer feel His presence like we had once before? We questioned our sponsor and he probably suggested that we needed to change our thinking. In the past, whenever there was a problem, we would attempt to place blame on something or someone else. In sobriety, when we discovered something wasn’t working in our world, we needed to introspect and take a look at our part. If we were feeling distant from G-d, what could we do to reconnect. As we deepened our prayer and meditation practice, consistently journaled, made more meetings and took additional service commitments our connection to our Higher Power was renewed once again.
Personal Reflection: Does G-d seem close or far away?