Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Pink Cloud

I sometimes find myself living in a place where I am surrounded by a pink cloud. I find the atmosphere cloying and heavy and depressing and controlling. It sneaks up on me when I think that I have gained more control over my world than reality will allow. It has a way of opening my eyes and reminding me that I am not in command of my own ship. Just when I think that I am nearing the safe haven of a sheltered port, with its welcoming lights and hum of laughter and community, I actually find myself fully off course, far out to sea. The mirage reveals itself only when the pink cloud dissipates.

Of course I should have guessed this from the start. Those on the path to recovery from addiction, regardless of how long it has been since they last fell or last gave over to it, must realize that they are never safe. Never more than a weak moment away from being forced back to the start. Alcohol, gambling, pornography, negativity, hatred, drugs, cigarettes, food, shopping, work. It doesn't matter what your anchors are, we are all in danger if we think we can make consistent and constant progress on our own.

The pink cloud describes the time when an addict senses a release from the struggles associated with initial recovery from addiction, whatever it may be. It is a temporary euphoria as the addict begins to understand what costs the addictive behavior has had on their life. The sense of being free from the addiction causes overwhelming excitement. Addicts then begin to believe that they are now finally in control. Without the constant pain as a daily reminder of the recovery process and the discipline it requires, the addict tends to forget about what it took for them to fully embrace recovery. The seeds of relapse can then be planted in fertile soil.