Living in the Gray Areas


Table of Contents

Whether you are an alcoholic or addict or not, life has a rhythm all its own. It’s not always extreme ups and downs, nor is it always monotonous. Sometimes life is fast-paced and hectic, and sometimes things seem to drag on. We’ve all heard the phrase “This too shall pass.” Yet we don’t often catch that this golden saying applies to everything. Every sunny day and every dark storm both will pass. Life goes onward, and it’s never the same. Even if it feels like we are stuck in a rut, we know that everything eventually changes.

Most alcoholics and addicts can almost get used to the frantic pace of life that often accompanies the disease, yet when we get lucky enough to find recovery we may find ourselves craving the chaos without really realizing it. Sometimes normal life seems downright boring compared to our old lifestyle, but that’s a big misperception. Our old way of life was killing us. Wherever we are in our recovery or our life in general, we can experience periods of time when there are no extremes, no ups and downs, and no chaos —but also no peace, no rest, no joy, and no progress. These periods do not last forever, although when they come we may worry that we’ll be living in these gray areas indefinitely.

When life is great and things are going well, we’re excited, we’re present, we’re connected, and we need little guidance on how to cope with life. When we are in chaos, we know we have the 12-Steps, our sober community, and our friends and family to guide us and help us cope. But when these gray times come upon us, it can be disorienting. It doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong. It could be brought on purely by feeling stuck, it could be an issue of our mental or emotional health, or it could be because we’re putting something off. Whatever the cause — with or without reason — life occasionally brings about a period of feeling in-between, low, or just plain “meh.” There are several things to keep in mind when we find ourselves drifting into one of these gray areas of life.

Adjust Your Perspective

Sometimes we need to adjust our perspective as a whole, rather than just trying to maintain a healthy outlook. Our best bet is always going to be staying current with our prayer, meditation, and 12-Step work. If we don’t stray from what works, the tools will be there to help us when we need them. But if a long period of doldrums hits and we’ve lost our perspective, we need to do our best to get back to prayer and meditation. These practices can help remind us that no situation or circumstance is permanent. Even remembering that one simple fact can help give us new insight and energy.

Whether things change on their own or there’s some work we need to do, all problems have a solution — and our best bet to figuring out the answer is always going to be the 12-Steps. Maybe we need to get back to basics for a while or push through something we’ve been avoiding. If we practice the 11th-Step, we’re very likely to receive proper guidance and a much-needed adjustment to our perspective.

Don’t Just Hang in There

Sometimes it feels like hanging in there is all that we can do. There’s no shame in that. We’re only human, and we all need help. Sometimes just surviving is a huge victory. Hopefully, we’ve stayed close enough to the 12-Steps to be honest with ourselves, because only we can know if these gray times are the kind where we “just hang in there” until it passes — or perhaps this is a situation where we could actually do something to pull ourselves out of it. Only we can really ask and answer that question. If this is a time to just bear with it, then we can do some things to make it a little easier, like reaching out to our loved ones and recovery community, working the 12-Steps, and connecting with our higher power. But if there are some actions we can and should be taking, this is a good time to do so. Reaching out to our sponsor and getting some 12-Step work done can help clarify our course of action for getting out of this rut.

Adapt and Respond

Life in general, but especially life in recovery, is all about growth. An old saying goes, “You can not step in the same river twice. For it is never the same river, and you are never the same man.” Life is like that. What worked before might not be enough anymore, or it might not be the right solution. Those of us in recovery are lucky because the 12-Steps grow as we grow. They change with us and always remain relevant and effective. But perhaps going to one meeting a week isn’t enough anymore. Maybe only doing 12-Step work with our sponsor once a month isn’t cutting it anymore. We have to look at our life as it is and who we have become, and then adapt and respond to those new circumstances. We might need to do more work than we’re used to or put more energy into a neglected area of our spiritual growth. There are no pat answers other than “apply the 12-Steps.” That one piece of action and advice is incredibly versatile, as long as we are open-minded and smart about it.

Life is always changing, and we are changing with it. Remaining healthy and balanced in our actions and perspective will help us navigate the ups, the downs, and the in-betweens.

Alcoholism and addiction can be a destructive whirlwind through the lives of those who suffer from this disease. Chaos and panic often become a way of life, as peace, calm, and stability continue to elude them. At Jaywalker Lodge, we believe in the 12-Steps and their ability to save and transform lives, including yours. The 12-Step program is designed to produce the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience that are necessary for lasting recovery. There is always hope, as long as you are honest, open-minded, and willing. Even those who have struggled to find recovery from alcoholism and addiction in the past have the opportunity now to recover. Peace is possible. Recovery is possible. A new life is possible. We have been where you are now, and we stand ready to help you begin the journey of lasting recovery for yourself. To learn more, call Jaywalker Lodge now at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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