While I am a huge Peanuts fan, I'm not referring to Charlie Brown when I spout, 'Good Grief!' Otherwise known as 'healthy coping'.
For those of us in the sobriety community, these are the exact things we have been striving to find and utilize.
In a list of most stressful things someone can go through, loss of a loved one ranks the number one most stressful. (Thank you Captain Obvious, right?) Well, luckily, that's not the point here.
The point is that (rightfully so) everyone has been reaching out to me in regards to my sobriety. The main question being whether I'm at risk or not. Though I have learned beneficial and healthy ways to cope.
Learning to cope
Of course, healthy coping mechanisms can be a learned practice. In fact, many of them I have adopted in my sobriety that luckily aid me now. Such as;
- writing through my emotions
- opening up to those closest to you
- exercising/going for a walk
These things are all just some of the beneficial ways to start venting emotions in a healthy way, i.e. good grieving. Even so, during these times, even the healthiest of coping strategies can prove ineffective. So I understand why everyone worries for my sobriety as much as anything I might be going through.
I mean, who wouldn't want to drink at a time like this?
My mom, my rock, my guiding light is gone very abruptly from my life. So much of my life right now is uncertain, scary, and changing that it's easy for anyone to look in on my life and say, "well if there ever was a time to start drinking, now would be it."
However, drinking is the single farthest thing from my mind. Which on its face sounds silly as I write an entire blog about it. I had to though. So many people this week messaged me about how my sobriety was going but made no mention of the loss of my mother.
I felt the need to make a post and point out that the ONLY time I think about whether I even want to drink, is when people ask the question.
Don't you ever buckle?
Yes, there were a few times in the days following my mom's passing when I verbalized, "this is the first time I've even barely thought about alcohol, even though I don't want to drink, it's the first time I thought about it." I even went on to add, "I'm glad I'm not drinking right now, this would be so much worse to try and deal with," but nothing came close to throwing away my almost two years sober.
My mom wouldn't have wanted that, and truly, I don't want that for myself. Throwing my sobriety for something that won't change reality, seems a little like what got me into this whole Cirrhosis issue, to begin with, because no amount of drinking will bring her back.
I find it hard to be upset at these questions when they do come up though, because most people don't know what to say, in times of great loss especially. What does one say, really? What can be said in these times of mourning?
What can anyone say or do?
First and foremost you can breathe.
Breathing sometimes is all we can do to get from one moment to the next and honestly, that's a monumental task in times like these. Don't for a second overlook the importance of such a thing. Good grief doesn't mean easy grieving, it only means healthy coping.
Write - Get it all out on paper. Even if they are just words or half thoughts. They are, at the root of their being, very raw and real emotions. You don't have to sit down with an intent to write the next tearjerker.
Sit down with the intent to feel better and to give a voice to these feelings instead of bottling them up.
Talk - Even if it's just to say, 'I don't know what to say but I don't want to be alone right now,' especially in your time of grief.
People can't help you if they don't know what you need. Many of these people only want to help, so open up and let them.
Some people choose to grieve in silence and if that is your choice, that's fine too. I personally find more comfort in turning to those around me for support rather than shying away. Hence, I advocate doing so.
Move - Your body, not your home. (Unless that's what you choose to do.) Get out and walk, or find an online program to do at home but for the love of all things good in this world, get yourself moving!
It's scientifically proven that your body produces endorphins when you exercise, reducing pain signals to the brain.
As I said, these are just a few of the ways you can cope, but they are some of my go-to's.