I remember sitting in a 12 step meeting not long ago and hearing a newcomer, filled with the dubious elation of early sobriety, exclaim he was on a ‘pink cloud.’ For those who don’t know, the term ‘pink cloud’ refers to a state of mind, usually experienced in early sobriety, characterized by unusual happiness and grandiosity in spite of rather difficult life circumstances.

His share conjured memories of my own perils on a pink cloud. It was my second crack at sobriety. My ankle donned an electronic monitoring bracelet, ready to alert authorities should I decide to take another drink. I was facing a couple months in jail after college graduation, and I had just survived a head-on collision at 55mph. As much as I’d like to blame someone else, the accident was entirely my fault.

Despite intensely negative consequences, I wore the garments of grandeur to every meeting I attended. A couple months sober? That didn’t matter. These people needed to hear what I had to share. A few months in the pokey after I graduate college? Not a big deal. Months of recuperation in a wheelchair after a life-threatening car wreck? I’ll walk it off.

My pink cloud manifested from a total inability to accept and meet my present circumstances. It developed almost as a defense mechanism. Life became bleak, so my mind produced a beautiful pink cloud to help me float through it.

Oldtimers tried to warn me. They saw what I couldn’t or wouldn’t – total flight from reality.

But delusion holds the power to reduce truth to rubble. The vacuum of delusion sucked up my life’s mess, leaving only shiny surfaces for me to see. It wasn’t long before I relapsed, and sitting in that meeting, listening to this newcomer share about his pink cloud, I knew he didn’t have long either.

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