Grief Is A Four Letter Word: and how I packed my heart away.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing…Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’” (C.S. Lewis: A Grief Observed)
Everyone experiences grief at some point. If they move, end a relationship, start a new school. In a book that I am reading, trying to process this stuff they call grief, it says “You experience grief when you experience any change in your relationship to the world.” (Sameet M. Kumar, PH.D.: Grieving Mindfully) With this definition, we should be grieving constantly, and we probably are. So why is it when the shit hits the fan, when the big things happen that you could never dream of, that we lose it, we lose ourselves, we lose touch with reality. Is it because reality failed us? Our safe and predictable world is no longer safe and predictable? I’ll never have the answers. I can only search and try to understand why things are the way they are, or just give up the search and accept that things are the way they are…the second option is what I am told to do. The first, is what I’m inclined to do.
A little over a year ago I experienced something that I ever could have imagined. A heart wrenching experience that no one should ever have to go through. I didn’t want to feel it, I didn’t want to experience it, so I redoubled my efforts to blot out the pain, the memories, the flashbacks, the noise, the tears, the fears, everything that made that moment what it was, and everything that made me, me. I blotted out the only way I knew how. Through the bottle, once again I let it take victor over me and run itself through every aspect of my life. I am an alcoholic. I do not drink normally. I Knew this, I Know this. I Hoped for this. Grief is a four letter word. It’s all-consuming and powerful, when you don’t have the right tools or don’t want to use them, to get through the pain and on the other side of your new reality. I drank to oblivion and beyond. I drank with a purpose and none at all. I drank hoping it’d be my last, and not in the upstanding kind of way that meant I saw a great light and put down the bottle and never drank again, no I drank hoping it’d win the final battle. All because I didn’t know how to handle these things called emotions and feelings.
Really my story starts two years ago, my story of the great grief that is. I had recently decided to get a divorce. I had been in recovery for a few years, managed to put together a little over a year without a drink and was begging to feel “normal” again. But then, divorce happened. I chose it, I pushed for it, for reasons I don’t fully need to go into, I just knew it’d be best for me and my sobriety, and so the decision was made and the process of grief began. I ended up diving into a new relationship right off the bat, I hadn’t fully become aware of my Co-dependency issues just yet. He was everything my ex wasn’t, and then some. I thought….now this is the ticket to happiness. I still believed my happiness was contingent on the people and relationships around me. Needless to say I drank the day we signed the divorce papers which sent me into a four month spiral out of control and with no goals or for seeable future. I put myself back in treatment in October. Determined to set out in the right path again, no matter what or whom was with me. The first day in treatment I found out I was pregnant. I was so terrified I cried, and then I cried out of delight. I had tried for years to get pregnant in my past relationship and kept having miscarriages and what they call Chemical Pregnancies. It was a relief to know I wasn’t broken and could actually have children, I saw it as my saving grace. I no longer had to stay sober for just me, there was a purpose to my life again. That’s an awful tall order to put on an unborn child (a conclusion I’ve only recently been able to come to). I finished treatment and re-entered the world with new gusto and perspective. I was going to make this new relationship work, I was going to make sobriety happen and I was going to be an awesome mother. No matter what. That was my mantra. That was my new found resolve. It’s unfair to put so much pressure on a tiny unborn human, it’s unfair to put that much pressure on any incident or circumstance in order to make sense of your own dysfunction and chaos. But it’s what I did, it’s what I knew how to do. I plotted on in my endeavors and journey to sobriety. Continuing going to meetings, finding a new job, getting ready to get our own place again (I had to move back into my parents for a few months) and so forth. I was excited and happy about life for the first time again in a long while. Not that I didn’t have fear and concern. That was definitely there as well. However the joy of knowing id finally be bringing another life into this world to call my own outranked all of my biggest fears. On January 21st, 2017, I was driving to get Justin (the father) from work early in the morning after I had worked all night and was fairly tired. I remember stopping at a red light, waiting, then proceeding to cross an intersection…someone ran a red light on their side and T-boned me on my passenger side. Everything from that point on was a blur. I ended up in the ICU for a week with four broken pelvic bones, a broken collarbone and a ruptured spleen which they had to do an emergency splenectomy on me. The baby didn’t make it. I was 22 weeks along, not quite long enough for them to save him on the outside if they had delivered early (he didn’t die on impact but rather because of my own internal bleeding and intensive surgery). Also not quite long enough for the state of TN to consider it a fatality….but that’s just my own personal resentment I’m learning to deal with now. They induced labor after my first surgery, I was strapped down to a bed, tube shoved down my throat and split wide open from my breastbone all the way down through my stomach (I had lost to much blood and was to swollen from the transfusions to stich back up yet)…it was traumatic, it was horrific, and all the drugs in the world did not help rid of that memory, because they had me hooked up to a pretty hefty concoction of different pain killers, muscle relaxers, and valium…and I still remember, I still see, I still hear…hear nothing, where there was supposed to be a sound.
I stayed in the hospital for nearly a month got out, went back for a check-up and ended up getting admitted again for a week because they found fluid on my lungs. All things considered… I AM BLESSED…although I did not see it that way then. I behaved “as if” and put on a shiny front for those around, being the good little grateful patient whom is just happy to be alive and on the road to recovery. But what wasn’t on the road to recovery was ME, the inner me, the me that will tell me its ok to go get fucked up and slip away into oblivion because what the hell does it matter anyways anymore? And once I could walk again. That is what I did. I stayed at my mom’s till mid-march when I finally got out of the wheel chair and walker and my shoulder was recovered from surgery. I then moved into the apartment we had just gotten days before the wreck. Once alone and unsupervised a drink seemed inevitable. It didn’t happen right away, but the thought was there all along. I was miserable. I did not know how to grieve. I did not know what to do with all the emotions I had swirling around and around in my brain, the anger, the fear, sadness, guilt, shame… the “It should have been Me’s and why couldn’t I protect him’s…” I had no clue how to deal with out drinking and that’s what I did. Only this time it sent my in a spiral that lasted nearly a year….I had moments of not drinking in there, maybe a month here and there, but truthfully I wanted to do nothing more than to continue on in my endeavors to drink away and once of pain I felt, to drink myself away. Once again I knew what alcohol did to me and I hoped it’d do more. I was trying to drink myself into never coming back, and for whatever reason, I was always saved from that. I’d get close, I’d set my resolve that it would be ok not to wake up the next day, and then something or someone would reach out and tell me that, “no, this isn’t it for you,” and I’d begin the process of sobering up again. I must have detoxed 5 or 6 times this past year, most of those on my own. If you don’t know what alcohol withdrawals are like, I hope you never find out, I would not wish them on my worst enemy. It’s like dancing with the devil…and talking to him maybe too. I went back to rehab…stayed in a sober living home…met with my sponsor….nothing worked. I still kept relapsing and drinking. I never dealt with this four letter word called grief head on in all of my endeavors so I stayed depressed, broken and miserable. It wasn’t until recently, after the year anniversary of the wreck, that I finally (I hope) had enough. Drinking myself to death seemed to keep failing me and I was faced with the reality that I may just have to live after all and living drunk no longer seemed like the way to go. I became so unmanageable, I couldn’t work, I wasn’t showering or eating, I just drank, got sick, lay in bed, and drank some more, and that cycle continued. I needed to stop. I finally wanted to stop. And with the help of some friends, I did. I weaned off. And when my head cleared enough to comprehend the chaos I caused over the past year I decided to finally grieve. I suppose I was grieving that entire year, in my own fucked up selfish way, because they say after all there is no wrong way to grieve. But when I finally decided to face it head on Sober, is when the real healing began. I’m only 48 days sober this time around. And only 48 days into my grieving process. I don’t write this as someone who has answers on how to grieve properly. I write this as part of my own healing process. I feel much better in these 48 days then I have in a very long time. Some days suck, some days everything makes me cry, but other days I can see the beauty of life, I can see my selfishness of wanting a child that wasn’t even here yet to “fix” me. I can see that only I can fix myself, with the help of a Higher Power and a good support group, sponsor and counselor. That’s what I finally learned. That I, on my own, cannot fix me or the world around me, at least not in this situation. I had tried to deal with life on my own, and going through this I realized that it is ok to ask for help, to accept the love and support of the people who want the best for you and its ok to see professional help when everything just seems too much. I spent so much time trying to pack up my emotions, not acknowledge them or feel them, I packed my heart away. And while there is a lot of junk I have to unpack before it is uncovered. I feel that I am finally on my way.
Grief Is A Four Letter Word: and how I packed my heart away.