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When Grief Meets Sobriety

The grief connection is easier to understand once we comprehend addiction:

Addiction is about self-medicating our pain, and most of our pain comes from our perceptions about ourselves, which I call mistaken identity. Of course, I was completely unaware of this in my addiction years––never underestimate the power of denial. And so recovery has to be a paradigm shift in who we believe we are––in what I call an awakening of consciousness. In the 12 steps, it's called a spiritual awakening. Our old self must die so we can wake up to our true authentic essence.


Now for the connection:


When someone dies, the emotional pain is unimaginable, and for us in recovery, death needs to be our old selves. It's massively painful to look at the false self, bravely peel the layers of our mistaken identity, heal our wounds, grieve all our losses, and allow our old selves to die so we can find our freedom.


Here I am - many years into Sobriety, an awakening/recovery coach, and believed I had dealt with all my grief. However, the last year proved me wrong––I am still grieving. There is no time clock for grief.


I asked myself - what am I still grieving? My answers shocked me:


• From 30 to 45 years old, my life was incomplete shambles––from homelessness, suicide attempts, overdoses, detox, treatment centers, and never-ending self-hatred. I can never get those 15 years back, a time when most were creating their futures.


• I never had children because addiction was more important. I am grieving the loss of a family I never had. This grief only showed up in the last year. I love kids, and they seem to love me.


• Even though I completed changed my life, made my amends, there is still part of me that is grieving such a big loss. However, I have found meaning for all my suffering and today serve others.


Talking about grief often makes some folks uncomfortable, but we all will or have to face grief. The human journey is laden in grief, and we are constantly healing something––it's part of the human condition.


Please do yourself a favor and reach out to professionals or close friends (especially those in recovery) who can support you.


This quote is for all of us who have lost a family member or close friend to addiction or any other traumatic event:


“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” ― Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler


Have a peaceful day. Paul Noiles




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