I thought everything was going to be perfect when I got sober… what happened?

 

Life has very few grey areas. There are distinct colors and hues to life.

Colors are often used to describe recovery stages and life moods in general. For example you hear people say, “I’m feeling blue. Her future looks bright. There are dark clouds brewing, “or “She’s on a pink cloud.”

Some things in life do fall into a grey area, but most things don’t. Pregnancy isn’t a grey area. You can’t be “kind of” pregnant. Either you are or you aren’t. Your pregnancy can make you happy or sad or both at the same time and at different times. You can’t be “kind of” married. Either you are or you aren’t. Being married can be a joy or a burden and often it flips back and forth between the two. You can’t be “kind of” sober. Either you are or you aren’t. Sobriety can be great for you or it can be a suffering or it can go back and forth. And there is no guarantee that sobriety (pregnancy or marriage), will bring only bright colors into your life. The emotions and life conditions of sobriety don’t come in one single color. Living life sober is not always bright or dark; it’s not even grey. In sobriety, some things are brilliant white, some are the darkest of black, some are varying hues of happy pink and others are an unappealing shade of monkey vomit green. At least that’s how sobriety is for me.

It seems that some people feel as if living sober is a grey area. “I only drink on weekends. I only drink beer. I don’t drink to get drunk, I drink to feel better.” It doesn’t matter to me whether you drink or not. It doesn’t matter to me if you only drink on weekends, if you only drink beer or if you only drink (or get drunk) once in a while. It should only matter to YOU if you drink or not, especially if your drinking is creating problems in your life. Your consumption or drinking lifestyle may be a problem if it’s harming other people (the people you love or are responsible for), or if it’s adversely effecting your job, career or education advancement. But it’s still up to YOU if you will drink or not drink. Drinking or NOT drinking is pretty clear.

It’s black and white, there is no “grey area” to sobriety—either you’re sober or you’re not. And even though drinking or not drinking is black and white, neither is right or wrong. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s right or wrong—for YOU.

A peculiar aspect of being clean and sober is that many colors and hues happen (or are felt) simultaneously. For instance, you may be facing the darkest of problems when suddenly an unrelated ray of bright light shines in. This doesn’t melt the colors together into one single grey, each of the colors are felt uniquely. One color may blend into the other, making a dark moment look brighter or the bright, happy moment look muted and a little darker, but I find that I can experience differing emotions at the same time,

I’m sure you do as well. I don’t recall having that ability when I was drunk or drugged out —I was either happy or pissed off, and switching between the two could happen at any moment without warning.

I can also say that I haven’t woken up once with a hangover since the day I stopped drinking. I haven’t once had to apologize for saying or doing something I regret while being drunk. I haven’t once had feelings of shame, guilt or self-loathing due to drinking. Believe me, I’ve said things I needed to apologize for, done some real bonehead things and there are plenty of decisions I’ve made that I have regrets about. But all of those rude statements and bonehead decisions were done with a clear mind. I felt that I was doing the right thing at the time. There’s a lot of things in life that you don’t see the results until a month, six months, a year or 5 years later, but that’s just part of being sober.

What’s my point with all this? Well the emotions and results of living clean and sober aren’t black and white. It isn’t even grey. It’s a wide variety of colors all happening at once. Getting load

ed is a way to try and change the colors you don’t like, but it’s not a very good way. You can attempt to drink your way into a bright spot, but that can easily turn into a dark abyss. When you’re drunk, colors become distorted (and so do people’s appearances). It’s difficult to see and experience the reality of life’s colors through a drunken mind.

I believe there are ways to assist yourself so that your life’s colors won’t be distorted and that you move towards the colors you desire. First, by avoiding or eliminating mind altering substances from your life you will be able to get a truer picture of the colors in your life. Next, having tangible and realistic goals helps you move towards the colors you desire. Every goal may not be accomplished, but the pursuit of a worthwhile goal keeps you in a brighter spot. Finally, stability in life helps. You don’t have to love or even like your job, but if it’s stable, that gives you something solid to stand on. Responsibilities can create stability. If you have children or you’re in a relationship, being responsible to your children (and your partner) can bring stability. Stability and responsibility doesn’t automatically turn your colors brighter, but it can give them clear definition.

Life continues to move along regardless of if you’re drunk or sober. Good things still happen and bad things still happen. Bright spots and dark spots will always come along. A constant grey doesn’t sound all that interesting to me. A wide variety of colors makes life more vibrant. And for me, living as a non-drinker and non-user has allowed me to see, feel and experience many more of life’s colors, even when I’m not all that fond of the color combinations.
This is my journey… this is my life!
Rob Cantrell

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