Does life sober seem harder than life as a drunk?
We all got into recovery because our lives were out of control in some area. But now that we’ve gotten free from our daily compulsion… why does it still seem like things are still out of control? Wasn’t recovery supposed to make our lives better?
After celebrating seven years of sobriety, Darren is asking himself these same questions. Despite his seeming “success”, most of the time he feels depressed, worn out, and lonely.
There’s no spark in his marriage, his children are distant, and he doesn’t have any friends he’d consider close. His days are full but his life seems empty. Is there something he’s missing?
Does Darren’s story sound like yours?
Maybe you have the outward signs of recovery success. You have a family, you attend church regularly, participate in the men’s ministry, and have held the same, steady job for years. But something on the inside of you isn’t right.
You feel unsettled, depressed and empty. You feel cut off from your wife. Your kids hardly talk to you and it just makes things worse when you try to talk with them. There’s no one in your life you feel you can really talk to.
Well there’s good news for you! Your life can become more than you ever imagined, but it will take some real recovery work.
Recovery starts a process that is like peeling an onion. After peeling one layer, there’s always another one underneath of it. When we get sober or stop using or stop cheating or stopped fixing we’ve peeled a layer of our onion.
But there are more layers underneath waiting for their turn to come off.
Darren peeled his layer of drinking, but stopped there. He didn’t understand that sobriety is just a first step to deeper healing. His depression and loneliness are not symptoms of sobriety, but symptoms of unfinished recovery.
Just like when you first got sober or quit using, your first step was to come out of denial. It’s time to get honest.
Start by making a list of the major relationships in your life and rate them according to how closely they match what you’d like them to be. If your relationship with your spouse is in the tank, score it low. If it’s not bad but could improve, score it in the middle.
Next write the feelings you have about each relationship- anger, sadness, bitterness, jealousy, etc.
Finally, add yourself to this list and repeat the process for yourself.
You now have a pretty good description of the relationships in your life, and a way to determining which ones are having the most effect on your life.
Take this list to the Lord in prayer and ask him to reveal any additional relationships or feelings about them.
Don’t rush this step. Come back to it over several days or even a week or two. Keep praying about it. Denial doesn’t let go easily and you won’t identify everything all at once… but this is a good start.
Christ promised us “Life to the fullest.” He also promised that “In this life there will be many trials.” These two truths aren’t opposite, they are complimentary.
If you want to experience a fuller, more peaceful, and satisfying life then it’s time to dig deeper into your recovery.
If you need a place to start over, to go deeper in your recovery while being surrounded by other men doing the same thing, then check out CrossRoads Freedom Center, located outside Frederick, Maryland. If you think CrossRoads might be the place for you, contact us throughout our website to learn more and request an application.
Darren didn’t need a residential recovery program like CrossRoads, but he did need help. Darren’s first step to coming out of his denial was to start attending a Celebrate Recovery group at a nearby church. Click here to find a Celebrate Recovery near you to start, or re-start, your own recovery!
This blog is the first in a four-part series. Each of the next three blogs we will follow Darren’s journey out of denial into a deeper understanding of recovery when it comes to his family, wife, and children.