I don’t want to bullshit anyone in this blog…
My last 25+ years of recovery have not been linear. I have not constantly progressed in a nice little line, always moving on an upward trajectory…↗️
I thought this was how it was going to go when I first got sober. I thought I would do what the “wise, old people with sobriety” told me to do and things would get easier and everyone would be so impressed with the new me!
Of course I thought this would happen immediately and I would get all the things I believed I wanted: The career, money, car, guy, house, etc.
After all, good things come to good people who do good deeds. And giving up alcohol and all the bad behaviors that came with it was a VERY GOOD DEED…right?!?!? And, since I was only 22, I thought it was an ESPECIALLY GOOD deed, so I should get EVEN MORE good stuff right away!
Damn’t…I DESERVED IT!!
What an asshole.
Spoiler Alert: As it turns out…getting sober is full of bumps and curves and this weird kind-of circling back on issues, behaviors, and gross shit you thought you’d already dealt with!
YES…all kinds of WONDERFUL, AMAZING, and BEAUTIFUL things happened for me that I could have NEVER imagined for myself! I don’t want to scare anyone away from recovery here!!!
I am just trying to help you – the reader – understand what I’m talking about right now…
…which is the “Spiral of a Sober Recovery”.
I could write a book about this, and maybe someday I will, but let’s be honest…nobody wants to read a book-sized blog post. So, I’m going to provide the abridged version here:
The image at the top of this post is called “The Climber of the Spiral Clock” and was provided to me by a brilliant artist named Antoine Mansour. He describes the piece this way,
“The evolving person transcends time: One stops turning in a monotonous, dead disc in order to climb a dynamic, living spiral, which leads towards……. “The highest within ourselves “.
Instead of going round and round in a circle, I have seen others and myself moving upward while revisiting some of the same people, places, and things that we may have caused injury to or may have caused us injury before or during our using days.
The image below describes this process just as good as I can:
During this “Spiraling Up” process, I have felt like I was going ALL THE WAY BACK DOWN to where I started in my recovery. I’ve been like, “DAMN, didn’t I already deal with this shit before?!?!” I have become very depressed and anxious. Early in my recovery, I even felt like giving up on my sobriety…and my life. I felt hopeless…like I had not made ANY progress.
For example, the perspective I have of my father growing up has changed MANY times during my recovery. When I first got sober, I remember being terrified of him and very angry at him for the things I knew he had done and things that I thought he had done. The longer I stayed sober I realized that I was WRONG about some things and needed to CHANGE MY MIND about some other things in order to forgive and move on.
I thought this would be enough. Nope.
Holidays come every year. So do fucking birthdays. People get married. People die. Babies are born. All of these occasions are filled with “HAVE TOs” and “SHOULDs”:
- “You HAVE TO answer that invitation.”
- “You SHOULD go to that wedding.”
- “You HAVE TO talk to him, he’s your father!”
- “You SHOULD see him before he dies.”
While hearing and processing statements like these are difficult for any person who’s had an abusive relationship with someone, they can be DEADLY for a recovering addict/alcoholic.
I have seen A LOT of people go back out (use/drink again) when they were seeing/feeling/talking about/writing about an old person, place, thing, issue that they thought they were done with. It truly is very destabilizing to have something come back up that you thought you “put to rest”. I know. It sucks.
It is during moments like these when having friends in recovery, a counselor, family members who DO understand, and/or (in some Programs) a Sponsor is extremely beneficial. They can remind you that YES you have dealt with this person, place, thing, institution before, and you are NOT the same person you were before! You are smarter, stronger, better informed, willing, able to see things clearer, because you are SOBER.
It also helps to keep a journal so that when you write about difficult times in early sobriety and you find yourself facing those same things later, you can go back and see how you got through them. This way, you don’t have to depend solely on others to get you back on track.
Today when an old issue rears its ugly head, I choose to believe that I must need to do more work on it. There must still be some “crumbs in the corner” that I need to clean out of my soul, mind, or heart…I guess. Fighting the work doesn’t help. Giving in and just dealing with it gets it over much easier and quicker. I have found doing the work to be VERY beneficial to my recovery in the end!
If you know what I’m talking about, I would be grateful for you to share your experience in the Comments section below. This will help visitors to the site see that they are not alone in this experience and then they may share as well!
Feel free to also jump over to Twitter where I participate almost every day.
In the meantime, I wish you well on your own Spiral of Sober Recovery. Please hang in there and know that THIS TOO SHALL PASS…
…and may also come around again
…BUT THEN IT WILL PASS AGAIN! 😁 👍