Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

Grieving My Addictions

When we grieve, we are essentially going through the process of letting a relationship go.

When my father died, I told everyone I missed him, but the truth is, I missed the living relationship I had with him.

I knew he was not well and his quality of life was diminishing, but I was not ready to say goodbye to our living relationship.  I struggled to accept that I wouldn’t hear more words of encouragement from one of my biggest cheerleaders.

It took time, but I did, and I’m OK.

It never dawned on me that I went through the same thing when I put the drink down and started eating again.

For over three decades I used alcohol to relieve me and I managed uncomfortable emotions by managing food.   I felt in control and “settled” while in a relationship with these unhealthy partners.

Unbeknownst to me, when I got sober and started eating again, I had to grieve those unhealthy relationships.  I had to grieve my life as an alcoholic and an anorexic.

It makes sense why early recovery was so challenging.  I had to go through all of the grieving stages.

I denied it.  I couldn’t comprehend the idea I’d never be able to drink alcohol again or look for a number on a scale to validate my self-worth.

I got angry.  I pouted thinking, “Why Me?  Why do I have to go through all this?”

I bargained with myself by saying, “OK, if I go through with this and it doesn’t work, I can go back to the life I lived before.”

I got depressed and walked around like Winnie the Pooh’s friend Eeyore, saying things like, “Oh well, guess I’ll never have fun again.  I’ll just be a miserable housewife and a complete bore in social situations.”

And then, with a lot of support from those who’d walked in my shoes, I came into accepting these unhealthy relationships were killing me whereas this new lifestyle was alive and right in front of me.

Yes, I grieved my addictions, but in doing so, I became grateful for everything I needed to do to get though it.

And just like I hold my father’s memory very close to my heart, I hold my sobriety and healthy lifestyle there too.

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