Shitty Shitty Bang Bang


Seat belt laws my ass, children!

I have been feeling rather shitty lately.

Not the kind of bummed-out-that-my-team-didn’t-win-last-night type of shitty, but the kind where your wife asks you, in a light-hearted way, if you are going to pick up again or worse, harm yourself.

The type that duct tapes a black garbage bag over you while submerged in alien snot-slime and being forced to listen to Kesha at full blast.

That kind of shitty.

This kind of darkness descends on me now and then. I don’t enjoy it and I don’t wish it upon anyone. It’s a static haze and it disrupts all the signals in my spirit. It robs me of my gratitude, my spark, my ability to stay present, and frankly, my manners and behaviour. It tears away any joy I have and it kills ambition. Sort of like how alcohol robbed me of people and vice-versa.

This is not clinical depression. I am fortunate that I am not diagnosed with it. I know people who have the Black Dog, and I know that I would be doing them a disservice by laying claim to their illness. I am a visitor. A mental tourist. I am taking pictures and they are all turning out fuzzy and underdeveloped. The mind is a bitch of place when you’re not grounded in anything other than dust and tormenting thoughts.

For the last two days I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what it is that had been driving this Shitty Shitty Bang Bang vehicle. I usually get a sense, and for days I prayed to have it revealed. The problem with praying and waiting for an answer is that I am too choked up on my own anger, self-pity and resentments to be able to listen. It’s like trying to get a phone signal down in a coal mine. My friend and blogger extraordinaire Mark Goodson calls this the “funk with no name”. And it’s apt.

Total Google Image fail on this one. This is not depression. This is My Little Pony gone goth.


I haven’t been kind to people, especially my recovery pals. I have been raw, combative, and not pleasant to be around. People suggested I go to a meeting, and I blew up. I accused people of not giving a shit. I not only had my heels in the ground, but all shields and weapons at the ready. To say I have been challenging to be with would be an understatement. I have been so wound up that I haven’t been able to uncoil. It’s taking me time to do that.

I think part of this anger towards my friends, in retrospect, is that I felt that I was trying to be “fixed”. And I know people mean well, but sometimes I just need to be heard, and not be given instructions. I know that in our circles, when someone is feeling “off”, we think the worst. I could imagine that many folks were picturing me with a .45 in my mouth and an empty bottle of Jack at my bare feet. Sometimes I have to wallow in my own dirty diaper and let it pass. Sometimes I have to sit with the uncomfortable feelings, feel them, then move on. Hopefully I will get some insight and candy as a reward.

It’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

I can’t always predict how it start always, but this time it was work. I can usually separate work and personal life, but I have been swept away like Child Catcher snatching sweet kids from the streets of Britain. My latest promotion and change of hours has put me in a position of feeling vulnerable and fearful. I feel like I am flitting about and don’t have much purpose.

And upon recent reflection, I feel that the feeling of not being useful has been fuelling this last emotional “blackout”.

I hope those kids are gluten-free.

Having a purpose is critical for me. And pretty much most people on this planet. The sense of being of use is more important to me than I thought. I didn’t feel of much use when I was drinking. I was a bum. A booze pig. A loser. I was no good to myself and hence no good to others. Recovery has given me a sense of purpose in many ways. But that has flagged lately. I have a book now that is finished. I got that promotion at work. I have hit the targets that I set and now I have nothing to aim my arrows at. And so I wander about, not feeling of use.

My wife suggested I volunteer somewhere. She said I do service with the blog and podcast, but it’s not enough. That I need to actually talk to people and interact with them (oh God). She may be right, but everything in me is screaming NO. Then again, what else is there? So I am scrambling trying to figure out what it is I can do so I feel of use, and not just a meandering sack of skin and bones.

My ego tells me that I don’t need others. Gosh I wish I didn’t. I know I do. And I hate it. I have a resentment towards needing people, but I know that if I isolate long enough I get squirrely ideas. I fight against the one thing that will help me – talking to others. That’s the fun part of this. The odd part. The crazy shit.

So there is work to be done. There will be a shift of some kind, but I need to be a part of it. I have to take some ownership of this, and to make the adjustments. In time. Life isn’t a straight line of marks to hit to get to the next level. It’s a swarming hive of moving targets which demands we pay attention to the important shots. That we line up our sight with that of Creator. I have my blindfold on right now, but it will come off soon. I hope.

I’m still feeling kind of shitty, and I am still holding on to anxiety and some resentment, but they will lift. I have not done much of anything these last two days off and that suits me fine. Self-care days. Naps, stretches, eating lots of sticky rice and listening to calming music. Deep breaths. Trying to take in the love of people who care for me.

It’s okay to not be okay. Then it’s time to get in that car and start flying away. To bigger and better things.




59 Comments Add yours

  1. Moaning Mama says:

    I completely understand this feeling, and I relate to the needing to be heard, not ‘fixed’. I sometimes forget that it’s human to have shitty days, and normal – not my every negative thought and feeling is linked to my alcoholism, and therefore my recovery. Sometimes general life is a battle, you know? Thank you for sharing this. Self care sounds a wonderful idea, and maybe volunteering your time or ideas would give you a feeling of purpose. I suspect you know best how to handle it, and I’m thinking of you. It will pass, it always passes xx

    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks MM. I like what you say that we’re human and not everything is about alcohol. It isn’t. Non-alcoholics have crappy days too. We didn’t invent them. We’re not unicorns in that regard.

      I have surrendered myself to be open to whatever may come. Even if I don’t like it. So let’s see what goes on.

      Thanks for your friendship 🙂

  2. I so get it, Paul. Lots of folks our sobriety age between 5-9 are going through it right now. For me, service has saved my ass. I sponsor 3 people (one here in Portland and two in Denver) and they all called this week needing help which was fantastic because I was knee deep in a pity party. But that’s me. I’m a special hot mess who still needs all the tools available and it works.
    But writing helps me so much too. And I’m glad you’re doing it too. Hang in there homie, it’ll pass. And know you’re loved.

    1. Paul S says:

      I wonder if it’s just a “thing” then? I don’t know. I hope not. I haven’t felt like this in a while, and hope it’s not something that comes up often. I agree that sponsees can help. I remember those days when I was in a funk and one would call, and I didn’t want to answer, but I did and later I felt better. I decided to surrender to whatever it is HP needs from me. Even if I don’t want to do it. So I will see if that does anything. Something is better than nothing.
      thanks Sean – much love to you.

  3. saoirsek says:

    Thanks for posting this, I felt like this a few weeks ago. Someone told me I needed more meetings and stop feeling sorry for myself. Jesus…not what I needed to hear . I already get a fair few meetings, do service and work with others, go for CBt and practice mindfulness . I was sad. And it was being in my feelings that was so difficult. Then the guilt of not being a ball of joy to be around hit. Self compassion meditation helped but at the time that was difficult to practice. But the good news is it passed. Being able to identify with others really helps. Keep posting and be kind to yourself. There’s a lot of people on our side S.

    1. Paul S says:

      Ha – yes! Not what I wanted to hear at the time too. And like you, I just wanted to express how I was and to show that it’s not a big ball of unicorn horn shavings. I am totally fine now and I knew it would pass, but I wanted to acknowledge the feelings and just sit with them too, and not be fixed somehow. I am glad you are well and thank you so much for commiserating!


  4. Hearon (HD) says:

    I’ve said it all but I will add: you are a great writer!! As mentioned numerous times, here to help you in any way.

    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks Hearon for everything. That is all I have to say. you’re a fab guy.

  5. Kinderhook88 says:

    Jeez. You and must are vibrating on the same frequency right now. I’m in kind of a bad place too. So much so, that I do a marathon of online meetings yesterday that only helped a little. This too shall pass.

    1. Paul S says:

      I am sorry to hear about that, my friend. It’s not a fun place to be. I get down every now and then like any other human on the planet, but this was a doozy. I am glad you got the online meetings. Helping a little bit is better than nothing. And you’re wise to say that this will pass. It always does (even the good stuff!).
      Thank you for this. I really appreciate it!


      1. Kinderhook88 says:

        Then the internet conspires to put this in my face: One of my all time favorite songs… and I have a reason to smile 🙂

        1. Elizabeth says:

          I needed that. Thank you Kinder.

          1. Paul S says:

            Wonderful indeed – thank you!

  6. speak766 says:

    I am sorry you are having a hard time right. I completely agree with you, that it’s okay to not be okay. We seem to forget that so easily and just want to act like we have it all together. But life is hard, sometimes harder than others. Thank you for sharing your story and your struggles. Wish you healing and better days to come – speak766

    1. Paul S says:

      thank you so much, speak766! I felt better the next day, so thank you for the healing wishes! I appreciate that and for being here. Means a lot to me! 🙂

  7. ainsobriety says:

    Big hug.
    My very small advice is that sometimes the answer is you need to learn to just be.
    To be ok with not having a goal. Not striving for an achievement. Not filling your time with more accomplishments.
    Just sitting still and realizing you are already everything you think you need to be.

    Yoga has provided me with a way to deal with the lows. I suffer from depression and take medication and still have periods of serious funk. And most of the time they appear when I start believing I am not good enough as I am.

    Take whatever steps you must to protect yourself. Be extra gentle. Have extra self compassion.

    You deserve the to be content.We all do.


    1. Elizabeth says:

      Love your wisdom Anne.

    2. Paul S says:

      Thanks Anne.

      It has passed and I did what you suggested – just be extra gentle and all that stuff. I actually spent my last two days off just doing *nothing*. I am usually a whirlwind of activities and chores and tasks, but I did the bare minimum and just chilled. Guilt-free (well at least 90% guilt free!). And it really helped.

      As for the self-esteem issues – well, they like to ride shotgun with me many times, but I am learning, VERY slowly to move away from the feeling of not being good enough. It will be a lifelong lesson.

      Thank you so much for this!


  8. Thanks for sharing this with us it’s the reminder that I needed especially today
    I’m riddled with a dark anxiety right now and it’s tough to feel vulnerable because before that always led to squishing discomfort away with alcohol
    That’s NOT an option but it’s hard to stay positive on the outside and inevitably we get shitty with our closest
    At it’s worst that’s still not as bad as giving up on our selves and drinking so try not to be too hard on yourself
    Self care all the way

    1. Paul S says:

      Thank you Carrie for this. I hope that you are feeling better as of this writing. I know I am. I certainly wasn’t going to drink over this. Not by a long shot, but I also want to show that it’s not all bunnies and rainbows. Humans get down. That’s part of being human. And so I embrace that, even when it sucks!

      Hugs back

  9. jeffstroud says:

    Must be that darn full Moon which peaks tomorrow! Anyways everyone else has suggested all the suggestions, as well as you have stated them yourself.
    I know, I know, I am going to say it, “This too shall pass!” Really how long you hold on to it depends on you, you can wallow in it or you can suit up and show up? I got more if you want them?
    We all have those moments, doubt, fear, not enoughness, I reached my goals, etc. Hey pat yourself on the back, congratulations you accomplished all of your goals, well set new ones.
    It’s back to basics, what did you do in the early days, do that, yet only now you have more awareness, you can actually work the 12th Step with wisdom and knowledge. Imagine that!
    Always here for you Paul, people care about you, they even like you and many of the love you even when you can’t seem to love yourself.
    (((Hugs & Healing)))

    1. Paul S says:

      You know, Jeff. I know a ton of people (especially Scorpios) who struggled during that full moon. Sounds silly, but that’s the truth! And I was fine the day after. I could see light!

      I think you are right about doing what I did in the early days. It’s been 15 months since my last meeting! I may try one out for size on my next days off. Thank you for your love and wisdom and insight as always, Jeff. I am so very touched and blessed.


      1. jeffstroud says:

        You know Paul, Many people when tuned into the phrases of the Moon’s energy have responses/reaction to that energy. Knowing and working with it as it moves… I am always here for you man! Yes get your ass to meetings!!! Your heart and soul too!

        1. Paul S says:

          ha ha – love it. Thanks again Jeff!

  10. Hi Paul!
    I am sorry you are feeling down.
    I know I get that, too.
    I am glad you took some time for self-care.
    I think sometimes, we do need to just sit with things, like Anne said.
    I know when I retired I lost my sense of purpose, and wandered about too.
    Then, I found a place to volunteer, and it’s my favorite time.
    I love the people, and I feel as if I am doing something useful!
    But then again, sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves, to “be” or “do” something.
    Big Hugs,

    1. Paul S says:

      Thank you Wendy for this! I have always been one of those “doing” people. Not a Type A per se, but I am so used to moving and doing that it is sometimes difficult for me to just be. But I am WAY better at it than I was before. As I mentioned to Anne, I spent my last two days off doing nothing. Really nothing. And it was great. So I am much better and just being.

      Big hugs back to you!

  11. Paul, do you know I was looking forward to this all day. And it didn’t disappoint. Misery loves company right? Well I’m not going through “it” right now, I know this place. You help me when I’m in it. And like you said, most of the time, there’s nothing anyone can say or do. The cloud just has to lift. That takes time.

    I was able to better understand mine after I’d left it. This most recent one that is, this one that you talk with me through. It was right around the time of year at football got into gear. Last year at this time, all I was thinking about was the play book and the players. Come August, I was full time. And I think it’s like a seasonal thing for me. Because I didn’t have that this spring, that huge void opened up in me. Very similar to the way you described it, it’s the lack of purpose. It’s this huge gaping void in me that no matter what I do or what anybody says will be enough. Nothing is enough because I’m not enough. That inescapable and dark logic that I get trapped in.

    I won’t and with a get better pal, or the sun also rises. I know that stuff truly means nothing. And all the suggestions on what you could do, only highlight the things that you should be doing already but aren’t. So I’ll just say thank you, you are of great service to me, brother, mentor, friend.

    1. Paul S says:

      Hey Mark – sorry for the delay here!
      “It’s this huge gaping void in me that no matter what I do or what anybody says will be enough. Nothing is enough because I’m not enough. That inescapable and dark logic that I get trapped in.” –> this.
      That is how I felt, and it was hard to escape it.
      I felt better the day after, and by the second day, I felt right back to where I was before.
      You are right about the platitudes and suggestions not meaning much during that time. I am not a “chin up, slugger” type guy. I just have to sit in it until the fog lifts, as you say. And it did.
      I “surrendered” to my HP on the next day, and asked where I am needed. I haven’t gotten my answer, yet, but I am praying for the willingness to be willing to do whatever. Usually when I do this, something comes out “of nowhere”. So I will stay open, and who knows, maybe even hit a meeting on my days off. But then my ego of course doesn’t want to because everyone suggested it in the first place. You know how us types are…ha ha.
      Anyways, thanks again for the voicemail and the offer to chat. Means a ton to me.

      1. No worries. no response needed. Although, I’m glad you did reply. It’s always great to hear from you, my friend.

        Surrender. Why does it continue to be so hard? It’s weird though. The surrender while in the funk, right? It’s like, I’m not surrendering for relief. I’m surrendering in utter defeat. Like, fine, take it away, funk. Have my way and when i come to on the curb I’ll rebuild my life again.

  12. paul JFT says:

    Hugz! My sovereign right to my Freedom is such a huge part of my recovery ( i choose not 2 use. I always have the option etc….) ! #we all work out what we want/need in our own ways. You get 2b whatever special kind of coconut you want. Much love Paul.

    1. Paul S says:

      Thank you Paul – much love back at you too. Thanks for helping me walk through this 🙂

  13. NoWineImFine says:

    Hi Paul,
    Am praying for you and hoping that you feel better today (Friday in New Zealand). There was a sentence you wrote that I like very much. I agree with it wholeheartedly.

    It’s ok not to be ok all of the time.

    1. Paul S says:

      Prayers worked because I felt better the next day! So thank you so much. And yes, I have to remember that it’s ok to not be ok, even when I am in the midst of my funk.
      Hugs to ya from Canada!

  14. byebyebeer says:

    Best blog title I’ve read in ages. Sorry about the content though and genuinely hope it passes and you find new purpose or just settle in to the new routine (job change hits me hard, even the good kind). Thinking of you.

    1. Paul S says:

      ha ha – I have a way with titles. Not as good as Morrissey, but I like to think I come up with a good one now and then! I am much better now, even though work still stresses me more than I would like. So I have to watch it doesn’t “trigger” (I hate that word) me into a funk. So I have to change my attitude or my surroundings one way or another.
      Thanks K!

  15. I get the shitty shitty bang bangs too. Ironically, I think mine stems from looking for that high that I got when I first quit drinking, that amazing, “I am so amazing” feeling, which was the replacement for the high that booze had given me before. I’ve yet to find the new high to replace that early sobriety high. I think I know where it is, but I’ve yet to push myself far enough to reach it (yes, I’m talking in riddles here) and that is what drives a lot of my despair.
    Meanwhile, it’s good talking with you again, my friend. We’ve been through shittier, shittier bang bangs than this.

    1. Paul S says:

      hi Kary May! You are right that we have gone through much worse. This won’t get me to the bottle. I just had to acknowledge that I was feeling that way and let it be. It sucked, but I also knew I needed to get out of it. And I was much better the next day. I just haven’t been hit so hard by it in a very, very long time.

      I get that about the “high”, but I have found that the long-term contentment I have found in sobriety to be greater than any buzz gave me. It sounds corny, but it’s true.

      So glad you’re here. Thank you, my friend 🙂

  16. Trish says:

    Well Paul, I’m sure you don’t need any more advise, but I will say that clinical depression came on me with a vengeance out of nowhere about 25 years ago. Prozac took care of me and any time I think I can wean off of it – I crash. It is a disease of our most important and beloved organ. So keep an eye on it okay? Here is my next little piece of advise: go play with animals. They will give you unconditional love and won’t talk back or give you advise. I think you talk to people enough. Love you Paul!

    1. Paul S says:

      Hey Trish! I thank you for sharing your experience. I can only imagine what it’s like to have your depression come out of nowhere especially after so many years. I am glad you are well.
      I will definitely take care. I have my dog by my feet as I write this, and I have my kids who help me out of my funks by just being present with them. They really did help. Kept some perspective.
      Love you too Trish. Thank you!

  17. bgddyjim says:

    Paul, I can very much relate to the space you’re in. It’s like, you’re going along and everything is good. All of a sudden you want to punch something and you can’t figure out why. Worse, it’s usually folks you really care about and it’s real fast to fly off the handle.

    There’s something I repeat to myself when I hit those rocky spots: “Jim, it’s you. You’re wrong and you’re f***ed up. Fix it.”

    From there, follow your wife’s advice. It sucks but it works. Good luck, brother.

    1. Paul S says:

      Ha ha…very true Jim. At the time, I don’t want to look at myself, but I know it’s me. “When we are disturbed…” BB, etc. I found myself doing that the next day and seeing where it was that I was feeling fear, resentment, etc. and wouldn’t you know it I was riddled with them.
      I “surrendered” the next day to my HP’s will, and if it’s doing service work, then it’s service work. I have my days off coming up and may hit a meeting and see what’s what.

      Thank man – I appreciate this!


      1. bgddyjim says:

        My pleasure, brother.

  18. Hello dear Paul, I hope the murk’s beginning to lift? Thinking of you. By the way, Aaaaargh…! The Child Catcher! Best villain EVER.

    1. Paul S says:

      OMG the Child Catcher gave me nightmares when I was a kid!
      But yes, the fog lifted the next day, and I was back to myself the day after that, so thank you so much for this. I really appreciate it!

  19. Hi Paul, I totally get the way you are feeling. I am very familiar with depression. I like Anne’s advice on just learning to be. I have found that being aware of the low and not trying to fight it or placate it or ‘work or achieve’ my way out of it helps. I know its counter intuitive but just letting the cloud be there with no judgement and no projections into the future helps to lift it more quickly! I am learning to just be enough as I am today. This is much harder than it sounds because we are conditioned to be identified with things jobs/family/purpose/goals in order for us to feel ok. I am only starting this journey into just ‘being enough as I am’ and it feels really sticky because my core belief is that I am not.

    1. Paul S says:

      Thank you so much for this, Hurrah (sorry, I don’t know if you go by another name/ handle!). You know, I took that advise and it worked for me. I spent my two days off doing nothing and it was glorious. Very little guilt about it, and I felt good that I didn’t feel much guilt. So that’s progress considering that I am a big “doer”.

      I do identify with things and tasks and such, so it’s been a journey in terms of divorcing myself from that, but sometimes gaping holes happen and I feel that void, ya know? But it doesn’t happen often.

      Thank you so much for this! 🙂

      1. Glad it helped! X😊

  20. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart, as always Paul S- Once again, I know I am not alone.

    1. Paul S says:

      We are never alone! thank you Elizabeth for being here and reminding me of that fact. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own heads, isn’t it?

  21. I so know how you feel! But I’m an alcoholic and I’m still bad at sitting in my dirty diaper (LOL). Feeling uncomfortable feels is uncomfortable! 😉 I know what you mean about being heard and not fixed. But it’s hard being in the program because we do have a valid concern for our sober brothers and sisters. It’s life and death here. I know you aren’t going anywhere, but I hope the darkness lifts soon. ❤️

    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks for this, my dear friend. It means a lot to me! And yes, I know that everyone worries. Listen, when someone disappears without notice or goes off for a bit, my mind makes big leaps and huge assumptions! So I get it.
      The darkness did lift, and I thank you for asking. You rock.

  22. “It’s okay to not be okay” – our dear friend, Christy taught this to me.

    I despise the ‘funk with no name’ because I don’t have a lot of support when it comes..especially from the spouse. I used to get upset when he’d combat my mood with “Why are you so blue? You have everything and everyone you could possibly want.”
    Which often made it worse…until, I pulled myself, got on the grateful bandwagon and clawed back.

    You’re a fighter – you have the most poetic ways of clawing through the shitty moments and I thank you for sharing. Makes me remember that it’s okay to not be okay. xo

    1. Paul S says:

      Awww M, thank you for this. Made me smile.
      I certainly was feeling better the next day and back to normal the day after, so it was just a matter of time for the cloud to lift, was all. But I understand your frustration in having your hubby say that when you’re in the midst of the funk! I hate when people *can* be *possibly* right when I am in my mood! But it’s more than a mood sometimes, I guess, and it’s something new to learn about and navigate. Like you, I clawed back.

      Thank you so much for this. I really appreciate this and I really, really appreciate you and your heart.


  23. We are reminded THIS is why Christ came!

    1. Paul S says:

      Indeed! Nice to see you, D 🙂

  24. Brian says:

    Wow, this is spot on how I feel sometimes. Like you just want to be heard and not “fixed”! Did you feel any better right after you wrote this? I would love to write while I’m feeling that way and see how that works. How did you get out of the “funk”? This was really great…well not the feeling, but how you shared this. Hope your feeling better.

    1. Paul S says:

      Hi Brian! Thanks for being here.

      I did feel better after writing this, and it took me a bit of time to unwind that mental coil of mine, but yes, there was something cathartic about putting it all down, but not in a super negative way. I try to incorporate something positive about it, so it’s not a pure downer type piece.
      That is something I have learned over time – lay out something positive that the reader can pull a thread on, so to speak, and hopefully get something out of!

      Thanks for the read and comments!

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