5.12.18 | Day 613
Musings + Reflections
“That’s really what grief has taught me. That I can survive. I used to be afraid that if I experienced grief it would overcome me and I wouldn’t be able to survive the flood of it, that if I actually felt it I wouldn’t be able to get back up. It’s taught me that I can feel it and it won’t swallow me whole. But we come from a culture where we think people have to be strong…
Today, in our ‘shut up, get over it, and move on’ mentality, our society misses so much it’s no wonder we are a generation that longs to tell our stories
…I’m a big believer in being vulnerable, open to grief. That is strength. You can’t know joy unless you know profound sadness. They don’t exist without each other.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Anyone else grieve or mourn their loss(es) after getting sober + entering a life of recovery? I know I did.
I didn’t so much grieve for the void alcohol itself left, per se, but I most certainly mourned the void alcohol left in its wake.
A decade pockmarked and punctuated by blackouts, literal time lost, and the completely vacant, absence of memories left in their place. The ghosts of people that were no longer a part of my life, who were now no longer people I knew at all. I grieved over the damage I’d done to the various people, places and things and the disturbing fact I couldn’t recollect most of those severely skewed and very volatile times — at all. The times, specifically evenings, my daughter needed me and deserved a better mother overall (despite my previous and current best efforts, I still feel and fear I could’ve done a better job even during the times I wasn’t actually drinking; a dry drunk isn’t really that much better than a wet one).
Most of of all though, I mourned the loss of the person that stared back at me in the mirror; the person I’d neglected and let down the more than anyone else: me.
Sobriety hasn’t been some clear-cut life change, it’s been a metaphysical transformation that was thrust upon me at the time of “wake-the-fuck-up” call — my “last call” essentially marked the death of the old me and birth of the person I’m becoming at this very second. Sobriety (in my opinion) has been the easy part so far, it’s the recovery that’s inflicted the most growing pains.
The accountability process as a whole: the unearthing, examining, assessing, reflecting, digesting, unlearning, implementing, destroying, creating, sadness, anger, euphoria and freedom — recovery and taking complete responsibility for the people I was over the decade+ that I hyperactively partook in during my moderate-severe alcohol abuse — that has been FAR harder than abstaining from imbibing in mind + mood altering beverages. To keep all I’s dotted and T’s crossed though, what’s even more though, is facing everything I’d done and NOT being able to run away from them any longer, not being able to drown, suppress or fully numb them — that’s where the sobriety part comes in. And as uncomfortable as I’ve been (which is A LOT), I’ve never once thought about even remotely trying to escape from work I knew/know is required of me, in order to really sort through the wreckage I made all by myself.
Today I sit here, 613 days sober + in recovery, and though I still grieve from time to time, I can definitely say the amount has lessened, the work hasn’t necessarily gotten any easier, my life is no less simple, but everything has been so much easier to manage and I ceased taking SO. MANY. people + places + things for granted. Hopelessness has evolved into hopefulness, and for me to be able to fully live out things I once thought impossible and unimaginable, it’s been worth the figurative death and literal rebirth and everything that’s happened since.
Further reading: Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, cultural, spiritual and philosophical dimensions.
Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering one feels when something or someone the individual loves is taken away. The grief associated with death is familiar to most people, but individuals grieve in connection with a variety of losses throughout their lives.
Loss can be categorized as either physical or abstract, the physical loss being related to something that the individual can touch or measure, such as losing a loved one through death, while other types of loss are abstract, and relate to aspects of a person’s social interactions.