Surprise, surprise, but no one really likes to admit to being crazy while sober. It seems that a lot of people, at some point in their recovery, go through this phase.
“I thought that if I just suit up, show up, and sit in the front row, that life wouldn’t happen to me.” The man who said that was from my home group, and he is a goldmine of brilliant one-liners and funny stories. However, he is also a source of incredibly helpful nuggets of recovery wisdom. He, like a lot of us who stick around, realized that he didn’t know quite as much as he thought he did about living life on life’s terms.
I remember going through one of my own periods that, admittedly, wasn’t all that bad in retrospect. When I told him what was wrong, he said, “Jesus, man! Who gives a [edited]? What’re ‘they’ going to do to you, huh? They aren’t [edited] wolves—it isn’t like they’re going to [edited] eat you. You’ll be fine, a [edited] alcoholic like you…”
His elaborate tapestries of profanity aside (they really are works of art in their own way), the wisdom of that statement was sound. No matter what I was going through, no matter how bad things looked—no matter what, those lines stuck: “They’re not going to eat you.”
Being crazy while sober is somewhat of a taboo, though. Maybe because it isn’t an attraction to the newcomer? It doesn’t seem to offer hope? Really, though, whom are we trying to save—the newcomer or our own hides?
When I took a cake, a fellow with similar time, of a similar age, and close to my birthday asked me, “Has a drink ever sounded like a good idea since then?”
He asked timidly, as if we were both conspirators trying to figure out if the other was part of a setup. Admittedly, my first reaction was to lie (because somehow shows a strong program, right?), but I caught myself. “Honestly, man, yeah, it has. It has sounded like a good idea a lot of times since then.”
“What about recently?” he asked.
“A couple of months ago when things just weren’t going the way I wanted,” I told him. “It was brief, but it was genuine, and it scared me enough to pick up the phone and start calling.”
He smiled and put a hand on my shoulder. “Glad I’m not alone,” he said.
We aren’t alone. It is absurd to think that the millions of people in recovery, across the world, are all doing just peachy (all day, everyday) as a result of working the Steps.
The Steps change our lives for the better. That is undeniable. It is also a given that sometimes bad things happen, and it is okay to have an appropriate response and reaction.
Ultimately, we aren’t in recovery for the newcomer—we are in it for ourselves. We help the newcomer because we have to give it away to keep it, but we can’t do either if we aren’t sharing what is real.
Denying that things are rough—when they clearly are—isn’t recovery. It’s just plain denial. When we don’t admit there’s a problem, well…
Getting clean and sober doesn’t mean we are fixed. It means we are lucky, and that we were graced with a daily reprieve contingent on our spiritual condition. If we aren’t fixed, then it is kind of crazy to think a crazy person won’t do crazy things.
The good news, though, is that even if we are crazy while sober, we are sober, and that means we have a chance to turn it around before it catches us.