We all experience grief in our lives. Grief is the deep sorrow we feel after something, especially someone we hold to great importance is lost. My experience with grief has been for the most part slim, due to my drug use; I’ve never really allowed myself to want to feel much of anything. I’ve had to learn to grieve in recovery after the loss of my dog that meant so much to me, my good friend Albert, and later Zach Weinberg. Allowing myself to experience grief isn’t easy but I’ve learned it’s much healthier to do so. For me the importance of grief and the grieving process makes the difference of how I feel. The mindset I have after expressing grief is much more clear, without grief I remain stuck in negative thoughts and wanting to isolate. Grief can be settle or overwhelming but is meant to be natural rather than stuffed away.
Everyone has their own way of processing grief and for me, I believe crying and other cathartic actions really help me to grieve my losses. Grief always hits me like a freight train where I feel like everything negative hits me all at once in that moment. Going through the grief, and not avoiding it, is the only way that I find relief ultimately. There are difficult times in life that we all have to experience but the times that we laugh are just as important as the times that we cry. Loss is never comfortable but it can teach us so much about life and the value of our existence. It is said that we can be defined by our past or that we can be refined by our past. Strength doesn’t come from what we cant do but what we can do by overcoming the things that we thought we couldn’t. We all grow through experience and I feel that is how our character is built. Suffering is the best teacher of them all and without it I wouldn’t have an understanding of life the way that I do today. The close ones we lose forever in our broken hearts, and we can never reclaim that but we can learn to grow and live on.
“…End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we must all take.” -J.R.R. Tolkien
This week at South Orange County Detox and Treatment (SOCD) we will be highlighting “GRIEF”, the focus of our ongoing Word of the Week series. As anyone who has experienced loss while in the pangs of addiction can tell you, the combination of grief and active use can be a detrimental, if not deadly, combination. The process of grieving in and of itself, even while in a solid state of recovery, can be a formidable process to endure. As individuals, we deal with grief in many ways, and often in accordance with Kubler-Ross’s conception of the 5 stages that are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Because everyone has different experiences throughout life, each person has learned different methods of coping; some which are advantageous to healing and personal growth, and some that just exacerbate the already existing disease that is steering the wheel that we ought to be at the helm of. Here at SOCD, we have experienced our fair share of loss of friends, family members, and unfortunately, people who we have met on their journey to recovery. When someone passes due to addiction, it serves a reminder to those still battling addiction, to not be complacent. The disease does not take breaks, nor do the dark forces that drive these addictions whereby their end goal is to destroy our will, energy, drive, independence, and ultimately our spirit. When working with clients who have experienced loss, our goal at SOCD is to process grief and loss in a healthy manner, with the goal of discovering ways of communicating, understanding, and dealing with loss in ways that promote nourishment, restoration, healing and sobriety. We believe that with the right perspective, knowledge, compassion, and respect, we can aid in the process of grieving in order to foster meaningful recovery that facilitates a rebirth of spirit and an enhancement of the individual’s quality of life. Please do not hesitate to call us here at South Orange County Detox and Treatment if you or someone you love is in need of help and/or is struggling with grief related to addiction.
Everyday, I strive to have the attitude of making it “A New Day”, trying to improve on things that I couldn’t the previous day. Each day I try to be a little bit better. The New Year is going to be a big deal to me especially because I will have 18 months of sobriety. The longest I have ever had clean. This entire year of 2018 I accomplished things I thought would never be possible. I’ve stayed sober, I’m doing great in school, I regained a relationship with my family, and I found a new family here at SOCD. Without Salina’s method here at South Orange County Detox & Treatment, I do not believe any of these things would be accomplished. 2019 will be great as long as I keep using the tools I learned at South Orange County Detox and Treatment (SOCD).
The New Year is upon us and as I reflect over the last year I can take appreciation for the progress that I’ve made with myself and hold gratitude for those who have helped me in and throughout my journey of recovery. A new year is beginning and I plan to make the most of each day and continue to search for new ways to progress. Having to accept and let go of the past has been difficult but I find it has been more tolerable each day that passes. The New Year is a perfect time to start new for myself. As I proceed into this next year, it will be the first time I have a “choice” to pursue my goals and passions instead of submitting to a substance controlling me. Happy New Year!
In honor of the New Year, this week at South Orange County Detox and Treatment (SOCD), we will be highlighting “New” as our word of the week. Such as the New Year indicates the completion of one cycle and the beginning of another, it can also be a time to recognize other patterns we may have engaged in as well and determine whether they are advantageous to our personal growth as a means to re-calibrate our values, priorities, and habits. For those of us in recovery, it may be a time to revaluate how strong our support systems are, how meaningful the connections we have fostered are, are we taking care of our physical health, have we been neglecting step work or meetings with our sponsor, and are we maintaining a sense of integrity for its own sake? These are just examples of some of the questions we ask ourselves when contemplating if, and how, to carve out a new path for ourselves as a means for evolution. If you are in active addition, 2019 could also be a time for you to end the needless cycle of dependence, helplessness, and depression. Here at South Orange County Detox, we offer a hand to help guide you through this arduous process in order to provide the best possible environment to inspire development and healing.
As we wrapped up 2018 here at SOCD, we also wanted to thank our alumni for playing an integral role in referring family members, friends, and anyone else in need of help. We pride ourselves on harvesting a sense of community whether our clients are with us through detox or whether they require longer-term treatment. We believe that fostering a support community is integral for long term sobriety and we have been providing accountability, support, guidance, and compassion since our inception and plan on continuing with our hard work and dedication into the New Year!
Christmas is the holiday in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In my family, Christmas is a joyous time of the year where family comes together to express our love for each other with gifts, festivities, and other traditions. Christmas is the holiday that makes me feel the most warmth inside. It is a reminder of how important family really is. Christmas has always been an exciting time of the year, especially during my childhood. I remember believing in the mysterious Santa Claus that I could never stay awake long enough to prove his existence, until the next morning, finding the gifts he left around the tree. I was always amazed and filled with laughter and joy as I spent the holiday with love from my family. Christmas traditions will always be held in my family and passed down through generations to show the importance of connection and the miracle of love that Christmas brings.
For most of my life, holidays have been hard for me, especially Christmas. Before I got sober, I never enjoyed anything that came with Christmas, unless I got presents. That was all Christmas meant to me. I also thought everyone else perceived it the same, as well. I used to spend Christmas alone and high in a dark room somewhere. It wasn’t until coming to South Orange County Detox and Treatment that I actually got a feeling of love, community, and true friendship. Now, I understand that Christmas is not about the presents, but about being around the people you care about and having a good time celebrating Jesus’s Day of Birth. Without Him, I would not be here today.
Growing up, Christmas was a Holiday I enjoyed because it was the only day everyone was home and together. Christmas brings up a good emotion when I think of it. After my parents split, holidays became a joke kind of like when you learn Santa isn’t real, that’s how I feel about every holiday. We live in such a society where unfinished work gets rewarded. Basically, I do not understand the significant of holidays. This past year I have opened my heart up to Christianity and figured I would tune in and celebrate the day for what it really is, Jesus Christ’s birthday. God brought Jesus into this world to set an example for us to live proper and genuine as a whole. The meaning of Christmas to me this year, given the time and place I am at in my life, is to remind myself what God has done in my life by bringing wonderful people into my world who God has chosen to speak through. Everything I am Grateful for today is my Present, along with me being off the streets which is my present to My Family.
This week at South Orange County Detox & Treatment, in preparation for Christmas, we will be discussing the gifts that are granted to us during sobriety. I use the word granted somewhat lightly as the majority of these gifts are not granted but rather earned through a commitment to a new way of life where we ascend from the chains of bondage to instinctual desires to a higher plane of understanding and wisdom. It is in this realm, and only this realm, that true healing can begin. One of the first gifts I received, personally, was the reunification with my friends and family. Relationships that I had harvested throughout life had been utterly devastated by my drug and alcohol use were restored which reinvigorated my sense of connection to personal relationships and humanity as a whole. The empathy and compassion that was gifted to me, and of which I also worked for, also helped facilitate a new perspective in myself that prioritized understanding and honesty over manipulation and personal gain. It is important to note also that the gifts we receive in recovery are qualitatively different than those we would assume to gain while in addiction. Recovery gifts are composed of lasting qualities that aid us in persevering through difficult times. In other words, these gifts tend to express their value over time as opposed to the immediate gratification that comes from more hedonistic pleasure. To use an analogy, would you prefer to eat a microwavable Salisbury Steak or a brisket that has been slow cooked to perfection over the course of the day? Lest one be a sadist, the answer is obvious. We sacrifice the immediacy of pleasure for the prospect of a more quality experience to come later which is exactly the perspective we need in recovery to fully appreciate the gifts that come along with it. On a more basic level, we there are gifts that appear in the form of restored physical heath, a reconnection to our emotions and a reintegration of them into our experiences, and the psychological clarity that allows us to make rationally-based decisions. There are also “higher-order” gifts that come with sobriety such as a renewed sense of the importance of integrity, a commitment to honesty in relation to others and ourselves, a replenished sense of spirit or the connection to one’s Higher Power, and the reclamation of a solid sense of who we are and what our purpose is. In the first edition of the Big Book, Bill speaks of the ascension of addicts into sobriety and states, “We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.” I was quite shocked to see Bill W. this type of terminology to explain the experience of addicts as it is far more existential than his typical message. The reason I chose this quote, however, is because it highlights, with perfect accuracy, the experience of one who is deeply committed to their sobriety as well as personal evolution and growth. Bill is not being hyperbolic but rather stating his path of rising to a different plane of perception that requires much more from us human beings, but that promises that a commitment to this journey will not only be rewarding, but will propel us into an elevated level of understanding, acceptance, wisdom and serenity, the likes of which we have never experienced.