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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

03-06-18 | By

Navigating Grief in Recovery

Last week I lost a dear friend and her two young children to a house fire. Absolutely devastating. This was the most tragic loss I’ve experienced since choosing sobriety and the emotions I instantly began feeling surprised and scared me.

Grief Is The Price We Pay For Love

I love personal development and putting in the work to heal. The results are so groovy that I’m willing to do whatever I can to continue growing and becoming more awesome. I’ve been on this sobriety and healing journey for over six years and things just keep getting better. This was the first time in years that I felt deep painful sorrow. I normally avoid the news like the plague because I value my brain so much that I don’t want to give energy to negative things that I have zero control over. Now here I was, reading this horrific story over and over as memories of these three beautiful people swirled through my mind.

Because I live a life of recovery I was able to consciously decide how to navigate this pain. This was a first. I lost my Dad over a decade ago and I leaned heavily on alcohol and pills to try and survive that loss. I made a scene at the funeral. I used his death as an excuse to self-sabotage, gather pity, and live far below my potential for years. I thought I had to escape my emotions by any means necessary.

Choose To Feel

I chose to feel. I allowed the sadness to wash over me and I cried more in the past week than I have in years. I knew that I needed to allow those emotions and to not run from them because they would undoubtedly catch up to me and manifest in a much worse and bizarre way later on.

I was very intentional about who I spent time with during this grieving process. I rescheduled some meetings with friends and colleagues who are good people, but who also have aggressive and forceful energy. I knew I needed complete gentle love and support. I invited in the calming friends and allowed them to see me in my grief and to support me. I rarely ask for help so this was a challenge. I also like to appear strong and joyful so it took work for me to just be the sad, zapped energy, low vibe woman that I suddenly was.

Distractions

I told myself that it would probably be okay to have some semi-unhealthy distractions during this difficult time. I lived so many years fully immersed in escape and distraction that I still consider that an option at times. I thought that a pound of gummy bears, some inappropriate flirting, and hours of Netflix would be perfectly understandable. But, I had no appetite, flirting took too much energy, and sleeping took precedence over screen time. I did play a LOT of Words With Friends and did a lot of resting.

I didn’t drink. I didn’t use. I didn’t have to and I knew it would make things infinitely worse.

I Was Able To Show Up

Instead, I was able to show up. If I had chosen to run I would not have had the honor of spending unforgettable precious time saying goodbye to these three incredible souls while surrounded by their closest loved ones. I was able to support the others who were grieving, to connect on a deep level, and to say goodbye with all the love, compassion, and gut-wrenching sorrow I felt.

I am beyond grateful that I’ve chosen recovery. It’s empowered me to embrace the strength in vulnerability and to stop treating emotions as emergencies but instead understand that my emotions are guiding me and showing me how to heal.

Grief can be a long process that shape-shifts and catches us off guard but now I know that I can navigate it with vulnerability, grace, and self-love. And best all, without drugs or alcohol.

If it wasn’t for this healing journey I would have never been capable of developing such a true loving friendship. I wouldn’t have picked up the phone every time she called. I wouldn’t have shown up for her kids and shown them both love. This sadness is the result and gift of loving someone so genuinely.

Grief is the price we pay for love and I’m grateful that I was able to show love.

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