Dealing With Loss In Sobriety
Dealing With Loss In Sobriety
Everyone grieves in their own way. Dealing with the loss of someone you love, a friend, or anyone is hard to do. Especially in sobriety. Dealing with the feelings that come with a loss. Dealing with that empty hole in the pit of your stomach. Just dealing. It sucks.
This is an old photo of my sister, mom, and I.
Today I re-lived that loss. Someone I knew from the Fellowship in my city was killed one night a few months ago while he was working at a convenience store. The news article said he didn’t put up a fight, but the thief shot him anyway. Now, I didn’t know him very well, but I know that he was a very kind person. One of the kindest hearted people I know.
The thief that shot my friend was found dead in another state. Now, I could say that I was relieved that they found the guy who shot my friend, and I was, but I was also reminded that my friend was dead. And that’s difficult.
The funny and awful thing about my brain is, I experience a loss, and then it goes to the back of my memory. I go about my daily life after the initial grief, and almost forget. I forget that my mom is dead too.
And then something triggers a memory of my mom. Or, like today, a memory of my friend. And I re-live the loss all over again. Just when I think I’ve worked through the pain, loss, and feelings of complete emptiness, something comes up and shatters that peace.
A few weeks ago someone I know from the Fellowship gave her mom a 5 year medallion. She herself had just celebrated 5 years a couple of weeks prior. And just like the snap of a finger, those feelings of loss were there again. Trying to be happy for them both, but on the inside feeling crushed.
I started thinking about my mom. From what my grandma and dad have told me about her, it sounded like she was probably an alcoholic. So why couldn’t she get sober? Why did she have to die before I could get to know her as an adult? Saying to myself, it’s not fair.
And then I cried a bit, told someone how I was feeling, and went back to my life. Poof. Gone.
Those feelings of loss were gone until a couple of weeks ago, when my friends were talking about their mothers. One was saying their mother kept reminding them to pay rent. Another said their mother was over-bearing. And I cried on the inside because they had no idea how lucky they were to be sitting there, talking about their over-bearing, over-protective mothers.
I’m reminded of my loss by something as simple as watching “Grey’s Anatomy”. I walk through my living room, I see pictures of my mom, and I want to tear them off the wall. The pain flooding back like it just happened yesterday. But I don’t do that. I can’t do that. Because if I do that, it will be just like it was before I got sober.
I wasn’t sober when my mom died. Instead of grieving her loss after she died, I got drunk every night the first year after. I continued to drink after that to cover the pain of my loss. So in a way, I was grieving her death for 9 years. But I wasn’t grieving also. I was grieving just enough to get through the day, but not enough to deal with everything and get through the grief.
After I got sober I had to find another way to deal with these feelings of loss. Another way to work through my grief, all the way. So today, instead of pushing aside my feelings, and focusing on something else, I cry. I try to remember the good times I had with my mom, or my friend. I talk to someone about how I’m feeling. I write it out. Something, anything, to get the feelings out of my head.
I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t bury my feelings of grief and loss. It doesn’t work. Things get messy when I try to hold my feelings in. And today, those feelings could lead me back to a drink if I don’t deal with them. So I get it out.
Feelings really suck. Especially when they come out of nowhere. When they’re triggered by something someone says, or a picture, or by something I read. But I’ve also learned that feelings are just that: feelings. They don’t dictate my life anymore. They don’t get to tell me that I’m going to be sad, or mad, or feel crappy for however long they choose. I’ve learned that the saying “feelings are indicators, not dictators” is true.
So today, when those feelings of loss hit me again, I dealt with them. I’ve cried it out. I’m writing it out now. And when I wake up tomorrow it will be a brand new day. When those feelings of loss pop up again, I know they will, I will deal with them. I don’t think you ever truly get over the loss of someone close to you. They always live in your heart, and your memories. But, the feelings of loss, and grief, don’t have to rule me anymore. Because feelings eventually pass.
Originally published September 21, 2016 – medium.com