I Drank So I Didn’t Have to Grieve
I spent years lost in an addiction that brought me to places darker than any ray of hope could ever possibly reach. At times, death seemed like not just an option, but the solution to save me from myself.
I never had the guts to do it; take my own life I mean. Instead, I continued on, letting my drinking consume me; bit by bit, piece by piece. I was okay with it. No, I was more than ok with it.
I welcomed death, until one day I didn’t.
My mom died when I was very young, and though it has been 30 years since she passed so suddenly, the intensity, the powerful gripping hold of grief has stayed with me. For years I held onto that grief, not because I missed my mother desperately, not because I never got the chance to say goodbye, and not because I was so angry that she “left me.” I held on to it because I didn’t know that I was holding on to it.
How does a person go on, day by day, filled with so much grief and never know it? Simple, I didn’t acknowledge it, and I drank. I drank until that grief became something that could be locked away underneath all the other garbage I stacked on top of it along the way. Bad choices, lost relationships, unfulfilled dreams, and the chances I didn’t take because drinking was more important than having a life worth living.
Then I sobered up. I sobered up and I realized that the emptiness I’d always felt, the sense that something was always missing, the pain, confusion and loss, all have a name: Grief.
It wasn’t just the grief that I had held on to. It was also the question; why did I live while she had to die? It was the little girl belief that, somehow, because my mom had been taken from me, I wasn’t lovable; that I didn’t deserve to live. Therein lies the foundation on which I built a life spent proving that point to myself over and over and over again. That was my truth.
I was not worth love, and I should have been the one to die.
It makes no sense, but it was this conviction, conceived and believed at such a young age that I held on to throughout my life and—USED to fuel my addiction.
Today, I recognize that grief, and it’s so very real to me. It’s not something that once recognized can be dealt with swiftly and moved away from; not for me anyway. It’s something that lives inside me every day. Instead of letting it consume me, I use it to drive me. I use it to live the life that was meant for me, because I deserve to live. I deserve to honor the life my mom never got the chance to live.
Those ideas about not being lovable, that I should have died, are often just as constant as my grief. The difference is that in sobriety, I get to KNOW that they no more than an IDEA. They are not true, they are not fact, and they do not have any power; not anymore.
It took getting sober to realize that though my mother is gone, I was not to blame.
My mom never got the chance to live her life. She never got to see me grow up, she wasn’t there every day to guide and love me. But I know with all that I am, that she would not have wanted me to waste my life. The life I lived before sobriety is not one that my mom would have wished for me. I have a second chance today; a chance my mom didn’t get. There is no better way that I can think of to show my mom how much I love her and honor her. Even though she’s been gone so long, she remains in my heart and thoughts every day.
I love you, Momma.
This post is dedicated to
Shanna is in recovery from alcoholism, and chooses to voice her experience and journey of recovery. Shanna is also administrator for the inspirational facebook group, Diary of an Alcoholic: A Journey of Recovery.