The Pink Cloud (It Isn’t What it Sounds Like)

When I was fresh out of college with my shiny new degree, my first job was in the detox/rehab wing of a psych hospital. Part of my job was to run nightly group therapy sessions on all things recovery-related. One of the topics I would run a session on from time to time was the ominous Pink Cloud.

Say that phrase to anyone in recovery, and you’ll see their eyes light up and a smirk come across their face. The Pink Cloud is the plight of the newly sober, when they’re finally out from under the influence of their drug of choice for the first time in however long (usually years). They get a little bit of clean time under their belt, learn some of the rhetoric, and suddenly they’re Captain Sobriety.

The Pink Cloud is the exuberant result of clarity, optimism, and enthusiasm. The problem with it is that it results in wild overconfidence. It feels so good to be sober, and they’re so committed to staying clean, that it’s easy to not be wary of the pitfalls involved. Why should I worry about triggers? Or talk to other people in recovery? Or stay mindful of my emotional state? I’m never going to use again, silly!!

Why am I talking about this? Because I realized earlier tonight that it’s fucking me.

Here I am, writing all these totally self-aware posts about positivity and open-mindedness. I’m talking about relationships like I’ve got a fucking clue. I’m doling out goddamn advice on how to handle people on an interpersonal level.

Am I out of my fucking mind?

What, so I read a few chapters of Opening Up and suddenly I know what I’m talking about? Like I’m suddenly so in touch with my feelings and inner workings. Here I stand, a paragon of Zen awareness and self-acceptance! No. Really though.

I got home from Catalyst and felt really shitty for a few days. Then, I spent a few days feeling absolutely amazing. I felt enlightened. I felt like finally the whole universe (and my place in it) made sense to me for the first time in my life. And I’m writing and I’m writing and I literally cannot stop (you don’t want to know how many drafts of posts I’ve started) because I’m like one of those fucking sharks that will die if it stops swimming (that’s a thing, right? I could have sworn at some point I heard it was a thing).

I’m riding this high and wondering how I’ve gone my whole entire life without ever knowing the things I know now, and without ever feeling the things I’ve been feeling, but it’s only been a week. One week ago (to the minute, at the time of me writing this) I was at a party at Catalyst sitting on the floor with my knees to my chest wearing a sweatshirt and no pants, scared out of my goddamn mind. I spent the night clinging to the only people there I knew and beating myself up mentally for surely ruining the good time they had intended on having.

A week is nothing.

And, to be fair, all I’m really doing over here are fucking thought experiments. Nothing is real. I sit up at night alone thinking and thinking and writing and writing, but I have no practical anything to back it up with, or even just test my theories out on. It’s easy to think about how you would handle something, or how you’re going to. Everyone likes to think the best of themselves. But contemplating Schrödinger’s Fuckbuddy on my couch at 3am doesn’t do me any real-world good.

It’s time to get down off the cloud, and get back to work. Because I still don’t have a fucking clue.

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