Enter your keyword

Where is the JOY? Does Addiction Sap Feelings Forever?

Where is the JOY? Does Addiction Sap Feelings Forever?

Where is the JOY? Does Addiction Sap Feelings Forever?

I was at a Families Against Narcotics (FAN) meeting several months ago. It was a cold, miserable night and the room was full of folks who had lost a loved one to addiction and overdose. The topic was processing grief. The room was bursting with the collective swell of tears and regret and rage…

 

Where is the Joy?

I’m not sure what prompted him, because it was kind of off topic. But, one of the men in the group said he had trouble “feeling joy” now that he was sober. He said it took a lot to make him laugh. In a resigned, Eeyore-ish sort of way he added, “That’s just the way we addicts are…”

 

I totally related to this. It was the kind of spontaneous moment to which I am drawn.  I wanted to talk to him after the meeting, but I was slow to make my move and by the time I had gathered my coat, scarf, gloves, he was gone. Per usual, a few key words made me think about the subject of “joy”, or lack thereof, on and off ever since. And now that the weather is more accommodating, I am less inclined to clap him on the back in chummy agreement. More inclined to argue that the concept of “joy” should not include throwing up, verbally attacking a loved one or crashing a golf cart into an unforgiving copse of mangroves…

 

storm

Does a storm gathering over Tampa Bay bring me joy? Kinda’

 

I do say it all the time – there is a little something missing, now that I’m sober. I didn’t think I meant joy, but why else did this resonate with me when I first heard it?

 

Emotional Rescue…

I remember, in my drinking days, those crazy moments. Maybe sitting in my living room alone. Staring at a new painting, sloshing glasses of wine down my gullet, experiencing an out-of-body “joy”. For hours, until I passed out. Or dancing around, in my cups like Rumpelstiltskin and putting a foot through a canvas…. But, the point is – the excruciating, in-the-moment exhalation.

 

If I sat in front of a new painting now, with a glass of gassy water I might last ten minutes. Even twenty. But, no euphoria. No weird, fire lit rapture… Dancing like no one is watching? Not once in the five years since I have been sober.

 

The object of the first drunken highland jig… Jacob’s Girl by Oleg Korchagan

 

Other things I no longer feel/do?

  • I no longer feel like I command a room. I think I’m almost too humble. Positively pride-less. But I’m not as rich either and wealth makes people douchier, more entitled to attention.
  • I no longer enjoy “flirting”. At all. But certainly not with much younger men. Or those deemed “inappropriate” (my go-to in the years of living dangerously).
  • I don’t spend as much time in bathrooms at parties reapplying lip liner.
  • Speaking of parties, I do not “party” anymore. I can last about three hours before I begin to look at my watch. It’s boring to talk, talk, talk if you don’t drink, drink, drink, right?
  • I am not as funny. Kim, don;t say it – I can still find humor in almost everything. BUT I AM NOT AS FUNNY.
  • I am not a spendthrift. Even putting something back on the shelf after considering its worth… I do not have a slew of recurring, unwanted charges on my credit card (I am too hamstrung to deal with) for things like Crepe Erase, Trifexis Chewables and HBO.
  • There’s more, but you get my drift…

 

But do I experience joy? Defined as, “A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.”

This is where I must beg to differ with Eeyore and the man who spoke at the FAN meeting. My first impulse to agree was born of old fashioned negative thinking and long overgrown neuro pathways. Almost as if I thought I was still supposed to be miserable. The fact is, I find joy in the smallest things now. And recognize the important moments – they do not pass in a blur, because I operate in the present.

 

Hello birdie… Do I feel jubilation alone (not isolated) on a St Petersburg beach?

 

And when you operate in the present (as a card carrying adult) there is still exultation . Still hilarity.  But it comes from what is real – nature, family, community and a solid foundation. Do I still LOVE art? Sure. Do I wish the inhibitions that started me drinking in the first place would bend it like Beckham? Yup. And do I still laugh? Of course…

 

But that’s the deal we make when we get sober. We have to redefine what our brains have been telling us. That “happiness” is the warm buzz from that third bottle of plonk. There will always be something missing. It’s like the shadow you see out of the corner of your eye from the dead family cat. You may not have liked the thing, but it did live in the house for twenty years…

 

That is JOY ladies and gentlemen… Lauren’s engagement party with my loved ones,,, even my ex-husband… I;m the one toasting with the gassy water and cranberry…

 

If I ever see that fellow again, I’m going to tell him he inspired me to start writing in my blog again. Albeit four months after the fact. I may even tell him, in this brave new world in which I live, he brought me joy…

 

 

Today I’m not drinking, because alcohol does not bring me JOY…

 

How come you’re not drinking?

E2E – Kim and I have not forgotten you… I just took a break from writing, not thinking of you and your dad. LOVE to you.

Related Posts

Comments (19)

  1. Rae's George
    Sep 8, 2018

    How come you're not drinking?
    Too early!
    Great to hear from you again Marylin!

  2. Tall Girl
    Sep 8, 2018

    Welcome back, you have been missed.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Sep 9, 2018

      I miss you. You of all people understand that part of the drill for we sober folk is practicing honesty and presenting our authentic selves. I needed a rest to get that back.
      Sure would like to see you this fall/winter…
      M

  3. Stella
    Sep 8, 2018

    How come you're not drinking?
    No more wasted Saturdays feeling like crap.
    Oh my goodness, Marilyn! It was so wonderful to see a posting from you in my in-box!

    And this is an important topic: the “whoo-hoo-let’s-do-this” craziness IS gone. Truthfully, I do kinda miss that.

    But what has replaced it, after 4 years of sobriety, is solid and steady. Indeed, a redefinition and a new understanding, as you point out, of joy and happiness.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Sep 9, 2018

      Thanks. And some of the points I made about what I don’t feel/do are really just what adults don’t do. Or what responsible people DO. It’s funny that my addicted brain equates crazy with cool and responsibility with boring… I am a slow learner, but it is sinking in. Taking on the role of adult like a boss…
      M

  4. George
    Sep 8, 2018

    Good to her from you M and on a topic that’s important to all of us – Joy.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Sep 9, 2018

      And from you. Sometimes you just have to take a break… I was feeling inauthentic. And after writing for four years… I wish you joy.
      M

  5. Rose-Marie Jaeger
    Sep 8, 2018

    How come you're not drinking?
    I'm not drinking because I remember the lack of joy once the effects wore off! So good to read from you again!
    Hello. Welcome back. Your post is timely! I was just saying to a good friend today I was having trouble feeling joy now that I have been sober 5 months. I am working on readjusting my expectations based on sober perceptions — my brain is learning with me! Rose

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Sep 9, 2018

      One thing I know for sure – it gets better and easier the longer you are sober. My daughter sent me a photo the other day of me – heavy into drinking – dressed as Morticia for Halloween. She wrote “if you ever think of drinking again…” I looked puffy and dissipated and miserable. Joy is living in the present and selfishly, sobriety makes you LOOK better… Keep it up – rewards just keep coming.
      M

  6. Cindi
    Sep 8, 2018

    How come you're not drinking?
    It's really not good for me.
    Great to hear from you – always appreciate your insights

  7. Regina Kelly
    Sep 8, 2018

    I see drinking now as a form of self-harm. I am 62, S-L-O-W.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Sep 9, 2018

      I always say I am the definition of “there is no fool like an old fool”. I didn’t really get started with my active addiction until I was 50… It’s never too late to get healthy! And yes it is a sloooooooooooow way to kill yourself…
      M

  8. Anne Oper
    Sep 8, 2018

    Glad to see you writing again. Keep it up. I missed it.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Sep 9, 2018

      Me too and thanks for your undying support.
      M

  9. KB
    Sep 8, 2018

    Glad to see you being a wordsmith once again. ( I have never read about or watched a Winnie the Pooh movie so you taught me something new today – Eyeore). Missed you.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Sep 9, 2018

      I’ve always hated the Eeyore character. And I’ve never understood what the purpose of such a downer was in a children’s cartoon. Thank you and I missed you too. Speaking of something missing, that’s how it felt not writing…
      M

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.