We hear a lot about the work of recovery and the steps we go through to achieve wellness. But there is one that we don’t talk about as much, and that is grieving our addictions. While we recognize that our addictions are not healthy, giving them up requires turning our lives upside down. It is okay to mourn what we are giving up, especially because we are doing it for the right reasons.
There is a reason that all of the ads we see for alcohol involve people who are smiling, surrounded by people, and having the time of their lives. With alcohol and other substances, there is usually an element of fun, at least in the beginning. There are parties and concerts and all kinds of social events. Meeting new people, dressing in anticipation, and that euphoria that comes with this social element.
We all know the negative sides of this lifestyle, that is why we are reading this. It is fair, however, to grieve the loss of this brand of fun in our lives. We have learned our lessons the hard way, so we have to say goodbye. We mourn our loss, and when we have made peace with this loss, then we can move forward and look forward to all of the new ways we have to have fun and socialize.
We have to say goodbye to the friends we had while active in our addiction, those who also drank and used with us. They were unhealthy relationships, granted because friends don’t let friends abuse substances. But still, they were our buddies, the people we spent time with. We socialized with them, we got drunk or high with them, we crashed with them, we were hungover with them. So maybe it wasn’t all good times, but it was time that we spent with them. Memories that were made, human interactions that were meaningful to us while in our addiction.
In grieving the loss of our friends in addiction, we also have to come to terms with how they helped enable us and how they used us and we used them. This is really painful, too. Worse than being forced to eat our vegetables as a kid, it is hard to realize that our entire lives were not healthy for us and none of our relationships were what they seemed. It is okay to grieve these losses, they are significant losses in our lives.
Going to the bar with our buddies. Going to concerts and shows with friends. Going to parties with everyone. Hanging out with those friends because they helped us get our drugs or had a place where we could all get drunk or high together. Some of it was truly fun, and the rest was maybe more about our substance use, but it is what we used to do. We have to say goodbye to all of it, never look back.
We know this is for our good, but the loss of our way of life is a big loss in our lives. No matter how bad this got for us, we will always look back in fondness at the activities that we used to have, the places we went, the people we were with. We might even miss the actual consumption of our substances, like an old blanket that gets ratty and filthy and now we have to say goodbye. This is a huge loss, and when we lose things in life, grief is a necessary process.
If we were in a romantic relationship or even a marriage with someone who also uses substances, and that person is unwilling to change or support us in recovery, then we have a huge loss to grieve. Here is the person we loved, body and soul, and possibly lived with, sharing everything. Losing a relationship is difficult enough to deal with on its own, and now we find ourselves dealing with it while we are trying to rebuild our lives.
Sometimes we have other family members – parents or siblings – whom we also lived with or were very close to. If they cannot support us in our recovery, we have to distance ourselves from them, too. Which is also very, very difficult to do. How do we just walk away from the family that we love and have known since birth? It is almost worse than if they had passed away because we are making this terrible choice. This is formidable grief.
The grief from the losses cannot just be swept under the carpet. We must grieve and cry and find ways to work through the pain. In fact, it is important to grieve all of our losses, even if losing them is the best thing we can do for our lives.
The staff at The Kimberly Center know how to help people grieve their losses. They can provide you with a safe space to grieve and mourn all of your losses. And they can help your recovery to make all of these changes worthwhile in your life. At The Kimberly Center, we want to help you heal from addiction and are committed to putting you and your recovery first. We offer a comprehensive range of services including outpatient treatment, post-rehab services, continuing care, and long-term treatment. Call us now at 855-4-KCENTER (855-452-3683) for more information.