There are many trials and tribulations in early sobriety. If you were a heavy drinker, the first few days or weeks can involve an incredible amount of physical, emotional, and existential distress.
After this initial period, you suddenly begin to feel good. Like really good. It is as though you are high on your own supply – the sun shines brighter, the grass looks greener, and you feel grateful in ways you never thought possible.
In the world of recovery and sobriety, this phenomenon is known as ‘pink clouds’. As though you are walking on air, experiencing pink clouds is feeling happy, light, and euphoric. It’s a commonly reported stage of going booze-free that brings about feelings of total elation.
You might want to sing, dance, laugh, and jump around in ways that you didn’t before giving up alcohol. You gain new confidence, have a more hopeful outlook, feel positive about going alcohol-free, and feel at peace with yourself and the world.
When I first got sober, I couldn’t believe how happy I felt in these moments. I felt pure joy, gratitude, and love – all at once; I had a thirst for life more intense than anything I’d experienced before; I’d frequently to burst into tears because I was overwhelmed with appreciation and good vibes.
These moments were, and still are, incredibly beautiful.
However, like all beautiful things (in fact, like all things) pink clouds are fleeting. There might come a time in your sobriety journey when these fluffy clouds disappear. When you stop feeling randomly giddy in the middle of the supermarket, or no longer have the urge to sing loudly on the high-street, it can be saddening.
Many people have reported this as a tough moment of sobriety. Coming out of this phase can have a negative and demoralising impact on people, one that makes them question what the point of it all is. It happens at different times for everyone, and affects all people differently.
I noticed my pink clouds fade at around the four-month mark. It was like I’d been floating around in my own magical dreamland, and I’d suddenly crash-landed on a relatively bleak-looking slab of concrete. I lost my mojo, and the enthusiasm I had for sobriety dampened.
It meant I had to try harder. My slightly pessimistic outlook made me remember all the things I’d tried to forget during early sobriety.
Just because these feelings fade away, doesn’t mean you can’t come out the other side stronger, wiser, and ready for anything. Once you’ve been through this, you are faced with the harshness of reality, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You might task yourself with creating a routine and life that works for you, and whilst challenging, I can promise you it is worth it.
The reason it is worth it is simple enough – life is full of ups and downs. All highs lead to lows, but that’s okay. The tapestry of life wouldn’t be so beautiful and complex if it weren’t for the bad moments, the difficult decisions, and the hard work.
Going through this will make you stronger, and realise you have what it takes to go further and further into sobriety. And let me tell you, the highs don’t stop at pink clouds.
Every milestone you reach, every obstacle you over come, you are growing and becoming a more enriched and well-rounded person. It will be tough at times, but remind yourself that you have it in you.
Figuring out who you are and how you want to live your life is one of the most amazing and yet heart-breaking and confusing parts when it comes to ditching the booze, but it’s a step you must take.
Over time, you will think about drinking less. Will there still be triggers? Yes. Will drunk people still annoy you from time to time? Yes. Will drinking culture still infuriate you regularly? Probably.
But one day you will wake up and realise that drinking is just a thing you don’t do anymore. When you’re living your life, going on the journey, you will have ups and downs just like anyone else.
But there’ll also be purple patches. A purple patch means a run of success or good luck, which can extend to mean anything you want it to. You might have a run of doing great at work, finally address mental turmoil you have been repressing, or just feel happy and grateful for the wonderful things that you might have beforehand taken for granted.
So, remember, pink clouds aren't the end of the high. They are just the beginning. Purple patches will come from time to time – and what a wonderful thought that is! (Okay, maybe I’m slightly biased because my favourite colour is purple and I currently have purple hair, but I still think I’m onto something here).
Life will throw curveballs. Ones you can never predict, expect, or plan for. It might feel like the world is unfair, or some people are out to get you. But you are only in control of the things you do and how you react in these situations.
Trust me when I say you are stronger that you think you are. You got this.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!