Prior to my journey in recovery, there was many times in my life that I chose to deal with grief in destructive ways. I used drugs as if it were the solution to bringing my friends back to life. The actions that I took only led me into situations that would inevitably cause more grief. Now that I’m clean, I perceive things much differently. In this disease we lose friends who don’t make it past surrendering. Although it is a horrible feeling, I think to myself that although the body is gone, God still keeps the soul on the ground. In a way, your loved ones, and really everyone’s loved ones, are still here. I am still quite new to the way God works things out in life, but really in this little amount of time I have seen true miracles and beauty that only God could produce.
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.
Unresolved grief has kept me in a negative place where I haven’t been able to feel the difficult emotions that came along with things in my life that I have lost. Grief can affect recovery by getting in the way of the right process and also distorting the way I look at and feel things. Instead of facing the grief head on, I use drugs to help suppress the process of real emotional healing and so I can avoid feeling the emotions I don’t want to feel. This has got in the way of my emotional recovery and has kept me from growing. After years and years of avoiding grief I am now learning how this unresolved grief affects my everyday life in ways I wasn’t aware of. I am a little scared to experience these emotions but I know I need to if I am ever going to mature emotionally.
I have noticed that I deal with grief in the same way that I deal with most of my problems; In addiction, in drowned my feelings with drugs which stuffs the emotions down and keeps them stored away and hidden so I don’t have to experience them. When I do this though, I need to keep using more and more drugs to keep the pain from coming back up. Sometimes we go through our lives in a daze convincing ourselves that this is how life should feel, and in my life, I did this for years and I escaped everything, even the ability to find joy in things. When I first decided to get clean and sober, the pain from withdrawal didn’t let me focus on any emotional pain. After I got through detox, however, the painful emotions from grief that I had stuffed for all that time started to come up. This is when I had to make a choice to follow through with facing truth or staying in sorrow. SOCD has helped me identify my emotional baggage and also helped me along the way as I worked through these issues. I am forever grateful to SOCD because if they weren’t there for me I might not be here.
A lot of my happiest and saddest memories of grief, loss and pain involved using marijuana. I can recall many “happy” days with people who have passed...Now that I actually sit here reflecting on any time that I have ever felt “happiness”, I realize that I was always high. It could very well be a coincidence, but who knows. I fear, after leaving detox, I may only remember “happiness” as being high. I used drugs more and more when my life felt “happy”. Sometimes, in my pain, when I would feel the most consumed by the loss of my friend, I would feel so helpless that I thought that I had no other option than to smoke away my sadness. I didn’t do this so I could sleep or to be in a vegetative state, but I would do it in order to function; wake up, get dressed, drive to work, and then work a 10-hour day where I only didn’t rupture emotionally because of the help of the weed. I fear that after getting sober I will not trust any other system other than lighting up to relieve my mental pain, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. I pray that one day I will be able to be a responsible version of myself. I have a lot of hope.
Grief has been something I have always struggled with and it has also affected my recovery in many ways. At one point in time I was almost sober for 2 years and I thought that I was doing good in my sobriety, emotionally and spiritually. Then I experienced my father passing away and I immediately went into feeling depressed and detached where I stayed for a long, long time. I'm learning right now that not experiencing my grief most likely contributed to my relapse and the vicious cycle that I have been stuck in for the past 3 years. I know it is going to be a really tough process to go through but I think now I am at the point in my life where I need to faces these demons so that I can get back to living a sober and happy life.