And here’s another one for both my AA and OA peeps…
There’s a little blog I like quite a bit from a 20yr+ sober member of AA. I found an interesting post where she talks about something that seems to happen to people between years 5-7 of sobriety, something she calls the appearance of “dark matter.” Her theory is that for many people, a heavy depression or state of “dark matter” kind of happens in those years of sobriety…a kind of mental/spiritual/emotional “thawing” so to speak:
“I can get onto the subject of this “dark material” that shows up between years five and 10.It’s very hard to explain but I see the process of recovery as a predictable energetic unfolding of sorts. Although on a very physical level there is an immediate absence of drinking. On other levels there is an emotional and mental and energetic unfolding taking place. I watch people ‘defrost’ so to speak. The first five years of recovery are what I call “automaton”. I think of the first five years of sobriety as about gaining core competency. It’s very necessary, but it’s a bit partial on an emotional and mental level. I’ve heard some people say that it takes five years to “clear the head”. I prefer the term “automaton”. I feel that the first five years is a bit disconnected. A bit frozen. A bit dissociated. Glib.
Sometimes there is the ‘appearance’ of a lot of emotion in the first 5 years, but I find this range of emotion more aboutdrama, thrashing about, blame or ‘mushyness’. Sort of 2 dimensional. 2 dimensional compared to the depth and rangeof emotions that become evident from year 6-10 anyway. It’s all relative.
Anyway, sometime between years 5 and 10 (usually about year 6-7) a sort of defrosting takes place. Things inside that used to be blocked and stuck start to unwind. Theyuncoil. I see it as an energetic process taking place inside. It’s not necessary to understand it as an energetic process in my opinion. All that is necessary is to understand that there is a softening going on inside. What is hard and stuck inside is becoming loosened. I describe it sometimes I say it is like that without realising it, all those years you have been emotionally constipated. And now everything is moving around inside and wants to come out to the surface. Which is its natural place. This is not something to be resisted. It is nature taking its course having been subjected to this spiritual life for a period of five years. So I don’t see it as a problem although I do think that for most people it can feel very unsettling. The balmy spiritual environment has the effect of softening contracted places inside the body. This has the effect of loosening debris that has accumulated in various energy centres. Thoughts and feelings that have been lodged in various places, start to make their way to the surface. They can take the form of what feels like a more “heavy” vibe. Sometimes this process starts as early as year 4, but that’s unusual. 6 or 7 is more the norm.
The first thing people notice is that things feel different but they don’t know why. There is a rich texture to this seam of feeling making itself present on a daily basis.It’s as if they have inadvertently hit upon a seam of rich dark oil which is seeping to the surface of the ground and discolouring dry pale earth making it dark and swirly.There is a rising dark swirlyness that becomes apparent inside. This energy becomes apparent in their field of consciousness. It appears all around and sometimes coming from inside ..this unsettling swirly feeling. All they know is that this richness and swirlyness is present, and it wasn’t present before. They start looking for reasons in their immediate environment why this “dark matter” should be presenting itself. Very often they attribute it to their childhood. Or perhaps to a difficult set of circumstances that has reared its ugly head or an emotional battle they are fighting at the time. There is nearly always a set of circumstances that will justify the presence of this “dark material”. I like the word rich to describe this new seam of emotion because I think it is infinitely preferable to the emotions experienced in the first five years. I have no objections to people going through this process. And I will always tell people that I am much prefer the company of people who are able to access this type of feeling. I don’t mean people who are overwhelmed by this feeling or are caught up very unconsciously in this feeling. I mean people who are readily able to access this range of emotion. I am much less content with the company of people who do not have access to this range of emotion.
This ‘material’ could be from this lifetime or a past life, orinter generational stuff from an ancestor that is working it’s way out after many generations. Who ? knows. It might be something collective, or from someone else in your family, or close circle. All I know is that it ‘shows up’. That’s all I know.
All I know is that you start ‘cooking’ differently at about year 6 to 7. Stuff comes up which feels heavier than before, and a different level of commitment to honesty is asked of you to make this part of the journey manageable. Simply trotting out all the ‘positive’ stuff you’ve read in books, or repeating what your therapist told you just doesn’t cut it. I call that a bit glib, defensive andunthinking. It’s a different sort of a challenge. Something ‘more’ is being asked of you that is less bullshitty than what you were doing before. We never really outgrow the capacity to bullshit, so there is always room for improvement there. That’s what I find anyway. ”
There were, interestingly, quite a lot of other parts in this entry that I did not agree with at all. A lot of stuff about anti-depressants that I feel quite frankly is none of my business as a member of AA and OA. That’s for doctors, not for me. But the rest of this post was a real revelation for me. It put a name to something I was feeling for most of last year and quite a bit of this year. It’s been creating a huge struggle for me with my OA recovery. I have not been wanting to admit that I frequently feel depressed and hopeless in meetings, that I’ve been turning to food and rolling in it like a security blanket, that binge eating ice cream and throwing up somehow became my idea of a good time after five years sober. It sounds like…such a fucking self-involved *bummer*. I want to dispense experience, strength and hope like sugar-free, rainbow-colored fucking Pez. But I am not a goddamned Pez dispenser, at the least the last time I checked. I’m human, and I have been going though weird, tough, dark, icky, sludgy emotional and spiritual stuff ever since my father passed away in 2011 and ever since I moved in 2012. It has been a hell of a struggle. Sometimes I feel like I am being thrown off of a cliff, or sucked into a pit, or drowning in my own tears and bullshit and fear. There’s a lot of hope and joy, too, but I tend to downplay the despair and the fear sometimes out of fear of alienating the newcomer. I have to remember what my first AA sponsor told me about sobriety: “First it gets hard. Then, it gets real. Then, it gets real hard.” I am defrosting. That is my new mantra… like Han Solo coming out of that carbonite crap.
The work I am doing with A Course In Miracles is stirring the spiritual and emotional sludge. Hard. It’s like being put into a Spiritual VitaMix. This morning I had a “fuck this shit” moment and almost chucked the book across the room. I know that *something* is happening, but goddamn—sometimes I just don’t like it. I suppose—to paraphrase my wise sponsor again– that recovery is not for people who want it, or need it, or like it, but for people who do it. So I am heading off to my home group and then book study with my sponsor and more ACIM and meditation and serving newcomers and sponsees…doing it. Gratefully, but not always gracefully…
Sorry for the whole double-bummer-shit-spewing Sober Confessions From A Goth Dancefloor, Ladies of the Nute.
Here’s a link to the whole shebang: