Suffering after getting sober is good. In fact, it’s a necessary test…
Addicts and alcoholics (same thing) are addicted to comfort. Finding and maintaining comfort is a compulsion and a preoccupation. The problem many addicts face is that once we get sober, we still need to feel good ALL OF THE TIME. So we start using the tools we have acquired (tools meant solely to keep us sane) to get a little buzz, albeit spiritual. Sure, getting a lift from meditating or writing inventory or speaking at a meeting is far better than jamming a needle into our vein, but it shouldn’t be entirely ignored.
If we do this spiritual work only to feel better, what happens when it doesn’t work anymore? What happens when it no longer gives us that charge and merely keeps us from going insane again? What happens is that we start looking for more ways to feel good. We gradually become more selfish and more preoccupied with our comfort again. Sooner or later our minds begin to deteriorate. We get sicker. Then we relapse… and destroy everything all over again.
After I took the first 6 Steps and finished reading the 7th Step prayer, I had a profound spiritual experience. As I returned home from treatment, I had several more mind-blowing experiences while making amends, working with others, and meditating. Then I returned to planet Earth and became human again. Normal, mundane life set back in and I came flying off the pink cloud I was perched upon. I felt bored, anxious, conflicted, even quite angry and depressed at times. I knew that the great test of anyone truly committed to growing spiritually is to walk through all of these painful feelings and continue to do the right thing.
I had to suffer to see if I was truly committed to getting better. Because getting better is not just going to rehab, reading some inventory, getting a little pink cloud buzz and then off we go. The novelty of being sober wears off hard and fast. Living along spiritual lines means: Are we going to keep doing the work in 5 years, 10 years, 25? Are we going to continue praying and meditating, writing inventory and helping others, especially when we feel like shit and don’t want to anything?
Newsflash: Life isn’t about me feeling good 24/7… although I used to be pretty sure it was. I finally had to ask myself why I got better. Did I get better in order to grow up and be a normal, responsible adult? Did I get better to live a healthy, fulfilling, and relatively happy life? Or did I get better only to find ways to continue feeling good all of the time? If that’s the case, then you should just keep drinking and getting jammed out of your fucking mind, because you’ll still be virtually useless to anybody.
So getting better involved me understanding that life was about feeling both good and bad, about success and failure, joy and pain, love and heartache, gain and loss, light and dark. I had to accept that the sole purpose of my life was not about perpetually feeling comfortable. It was about experiencing both the ups and downs and walking through all of it with courage and grace.
God, help me to put my spiritual health above all else, regardless of how I feel…