The Darker Side of Sobriety & A Postcard

Surreal PlanetWe all have darkness. I have darkness. Just because I write with the voice of hope, of love, does not mean I do not deal with dark feelings. I do.

In sobriety, it’s not about not having those feelings. It’s about managing those feelings when they arrive … because they will arrive—guaranteed.

This is where addicts feel blindsided in early sobriety. They’re expecting that the elimination of the offending substance will produce this beautiful, care free, no-questions-asked, no stressors, everybody-gets-along, balloons, and all-things-attractive life.

It does not.

Recovery is about healing all the stuff that shows up after you put down the drink.

    1. I had to observe my darkness and see how it was ruling my mind—without taking a drink.
    2. I had to document my darkness and find the root of my belief in it—all without a drink.
    3. I had to endure my darkness while it ripped me apart physically and emotionally—and still no drink.
    4. I had to feel it and see it for what it was, and then …
    5. I had to welcome the healing, the love that is my birthright—with no drink.

When I got sober, I was not good at self-observation, journaling feelings, enduring pain, or accepting love. I have learned to be good at all of these, not because I am anything special, but because my life depends upon it.

The dark feelings come. Learn what to do with them.

Sober PostCard

This is the first postcard I received for the Sober Postcard Campaign. If you haven’t done so, send your card. An anonymous addict sends us the following postcard. Please post your comments to her for her healing. She has been enduring her pain and now wishes to set it free.

*Note: Only comments of love and light will be approved. This is not a forum for anything other than healing. Take your judgment and put it in your journal, not in the comment box.

Postcard 1.1

No Responses to “The Darker Side of Sobriety & A Postcard

  • Lisa, this is a fantastic post. I know you want comments directed to the postcard, but I needed to say it. Every person in early recovery should have the opportunity to read it.

    Dear Anonymous,

    I am so happy that you have moved on with your life, are getting married, and (I’m assuming) are three years into recovery. I really hope that you can find peace with this situation, it does not sound like his side of the street was very clean, but that certainly does not help with our guilty conscience, does it? I’m not sure if and what kind of recovery program you are following, but I have found that making amends works wonders for my inner peace. Not sure if you tried it, but I figure I would throw it out there!

    No matter what else you do going forward, I bet the simple act of writing out that postcard helped tremendously, and I applaud your courage! Best of luck in your marriage plans!

    • Thanks Miracles for the kind words. And thanks for being so quick to post a comment for the postcard girl. I love that you mentioned making amends. That isn’t just a 12-step thing, it’s a life thing, saying we are sorry. xox

  • Good post Lisa. I have reproduced part of it on rhubblog.com

    http://rhubblog.com/2013/08/04/the-darker-side-of-sobriety/

    Ronnie.

  • Dear Anonymous-

    Making amends is a beautiful thing…even if you never say it to him. I wrote lots of letters when I first entered recovery in an effort to make amends with people. Some of them I sent and some I burned…but both felt very healing and helped me find some peace.

    Good luck to you and your fiancé…I wish you peace.

    Sherry

  • Observing, enduring, accepting. This is wonderful. The darkness will descend. It cannot not descend. It’s a part of life. My serenity is not contingent on lack of conflict, but how I deal with it. Painful lessons in there for me at times, and it does test my ability to use the spiritual and other tools at my disposal, and how well equipped I am to take them on. It’s a learning curve, and my hope is that I am better at rolling with the punches and also just being present when the darkness comes.

    My challenge is also to not sit in the dark too long – old habits die hard at times, and it’s easy to keep the shades down when the sunlight is on the other side, just waiting to enter. I drew the shades and pinned them down while I was active and I found myself doing that even in my early sobriety. It was an easy way to rationalize my behaviour and thoughts.

    I have learned a lot here from you in dealing with things, as drinking has no longer been a option of a couple of years now. Thank you for the wonderful and insightful work you do here, Lisa.

    The clouds will always clear away.

    Paul

    • A bit late in my reply, but wanted to say that I love the phrase ” “it cannot not descend.” I often use that double negative to say “it cannot not work,” when I am working with clients. I love the completeness of this thought. As always, it is there for the taking. The real question becomes: Am I willing to transcend my ideas about possessing it? Do I see the value in it? You always make me think too. You are a blessing for my life (my sobriety).

  • Yes ma’am it’s not an if but a when in regard to those “feelings” because they’re going to come regardless if you are ready or not.

    Anon, the jealousy will pass. It’s just a feeling. And I’m sure you’ve heard, feelings aren’t facts. When I get feelings like that–we all do, we’re human–I try instead to focus on what I do have versus what I don’t. Count your blessings, type of thing.

    And just an exercise… Next time you feel jealous, instead start sending your ex positive thoughts and energy instead of jealous thoughts. Like “I wish you love, health and happiness.”

    You’re in a great place with your clean time and your upcoming wedding–focus on that joy and in sending out that positive energy to others.

    Congrats on your courage and for all the good things in your life! – Christy

    • I had to tell you that I love this reminder to anonymous about sending the positive thoughts. I have been working on this with my husband. (Firmly working on this.) It used to be that I would try for a day or so and then forget to pray for him. Your reply here caught me at the right moment on the right day. How’s the training? I need to get blog reading and see what my girls are up to.

  • I hope that sending the postcard is another step in letting go of the feelings that weigh anonymous down. Three years is not very long, and I hope and suspect that time passing and a forgiving, loving attitude towards herself will bring healing and peace.

    • bbb, I remember someone saying “times takes time,” and thinking it was the dumbest “sober” phrase I ever heard. I finally get it and it’s a great phrase—now. Thank you for the reminder.

  • A quick comment to the cat postcard; please don’t be so hard on yourself! You are human, we are all human and emotions make us act in ways sometimes that are not the best but I think you can safely let that go…and be happy in your sober new life with someone who loves you back. Best!

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