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Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Morning After

In addiction, regret is our constant companion.  We are always sorrowful about things that we have done, both intoxicated (or acting out) and sober, the memories of which follow us around for a lifetime.

Sometimes, we have to literally step over the wreckage of the immediate past, strewn over the ground as a physical manifestation of our inner disorder.  Our failures and indulgences seem to scream out at us from every inch of the world.

As sobriety comes, that chaos begins to decrease.  And, with it, the wreckage begins to subside.  No more broken bottles littering the floor, no more sensations of shame for what we did the night before.  In fact, waking up without a crushing hangover is, for many, a tremendous gift in and of itself!

It can feel strange some mornings to get out of bed and have no questions about how we got there or whether we will be able to survive the rest of the day.  Sanity and health can be disorienting to those used to be sick and insane.  Sometimes, we 'relapse' a little by indulging in a panic attack or a bit of amateur dramatics just to duplicate the old failures that at once tortured and comforted us.

It takes time to get used to being happy.  Therefore, if we feel a bit strange getting through the annual Christmas with less hostility and shame, discomfort and acting out, then this morning might feel a bit dizzying.  It is OK.  This is what it feels to be alive and rather normal.  Normal people celebrate festivities with friends and family, then get up the next day with perhaps a sink full of dishes, but not much more beyond that.

I'm not saying that normal life is something for addicts.  If normal life worked, then there would be no addicts.  For some people, the normal life is just something for others.  For the addict, normal life has some small shared territories, or even things that are replicated, but we never really are natural participants in it.  When the addiction overtakes us, we are changed in a way that means we cannot go back to the care-free lifestyle of a 'normie.'

Our existence is one that exists above the normal life.  I am not saying that we look down on addicts, but rather that our life in sobriety draws us ever heaven-ward.  We are people focused on God rather than the daily pursuits of our non-addict friends.  Thus, events like holidays become more about God and less about human concerns.  And, so, without all the additional attention and fuss, we find that we are better able to get through those same human interactions that once befuddled us because we no longer care as much for them as we do for God.

We encounter others in light of God's love rather than our fears and desires.  We are less stressed, and more in possession of our faculties.  We don't lose control.  There is thus no wreckage.  We go to bed in peace, and wake up the same.

For those of us that has a less than successful day, do not lose hope.  Sobriety takes time to get used to.  Changes will continue to occur, and sometimes all the chaos will be there even though no relapse happened.  It is OK.  Be patient.  God will make the changes that we cannot make.

If we stay on the path, every morning after can be a cause for joy and hope.  And that is because every morning after, both good and bad, is a gift from God.  It is an opportunity.

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