Grief and Recovery: How to Heal When The Self-Help Guide Doesn’t Exist for Your Situation.

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The blank page sits here and haunts me, like it does this time every single year. The cursor blinks, taunting me to share what’s been tormenting my mind for the last week. “It’s time to confront the demons babe.” Blink. Blink. Blink. “Fine. Let’s do this f*cking thing,” I say out loud to no one listening.

Ever had some shit you just have to wrestle to the ground year after year? You know, the kind of wound that just sits and continues to fester, every.single.day. Until the day comes, the one you know so well. The trigger day comes around every single year. On that trigger day you’re faced with two options.

Option 1. Do what you did the first time the wound came around. Relapse. Get f*cked up. Pretend it doesn’t exist until you’re so f*cked up the demons are now running free, coming out your mouth and making you a person you never imagined existed. Option 2. Wrestle that wound to the ground. Feel all the feels. Sit in the suck. Let the poison ferment until it can be released. The wound, you see, is a boil. It will heal, but the toxic shit has to get out first, and it will find a way out. The toxic feels will either come out as relapse, or as healing. Pick your poison carefully, for both methods have consequences.

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This is my 5th Fathers Day with a deceased father. Before you get too sympathetic, realize this. I didn’t have him to begin with. We had been estranged for a few years before he passed. I was a grown ass adult. It was my grown  ass decision to not have a relationship with him. It’s a decision I don’t necessarily regret, for I believe in strong boundaries, and I believe in fate. Do I have moments where I doubt myself?

Sure. I still have moments I cuss that dead dude out. I have moments I cuss God out. I have moments I cuss myself out. Reality sucks, but the false lies of the bottle suck a lot worse. 

Every year I get to wrestle the same demon. Here’s why. No one tells you how to grieve an estranged parent. No one tells you how to grieve for someone you never had, but you were “supposed” to have.  I found out he passed 4 months after he was gone. There are no f*cking self help books for that.

I navigated all this on my own, and it nearly destroyed me. But in nearly destroying me, it built me into the sober person I am today.

My father’s death contributed greatly to the sober person I am today. After finding out about his death (an unknown cause, with alcoholism and depression listed as contributing factors), I was forced to face my potential fate. I was “normal” for the most part, as long as I wasn’t drinking.

Unfortunately, I had the same Jekyll and Hyde disorder he had with booze. I always said I’d have “just one” but it was a false promise each time. I always said I’d “behave.” That I wouldn’t cause any fights or hit anyone. Turns out, these were false promises too. I was never capable of having just one, and I was never capable of behaving or controlling my anger while intoxicated. Instead, Hyde would come out in full force, destroying the ones I cared about and loved, and Jekyll would wake up each morning with no recollection of the evening before.

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I was in the middle of a relapse when the feels finally kicked in with the grief process. Pretty sure I felt nothing for the first month. Then they hit me. The feels hit me like a f*cking car wreck. My face smacked straight into a brick wall of feels, but only after the airbag of relapse deployed and left me battered and bruised first. Then the cranium of depression busted through the bricks and left me completely unresponsive. I’d been through some emotional wrecks in my life, but this one, nearly did me in.

I found myself on my bedroom floor one night. I was in the fetal position, grasping onto the floor, digging my nails into the carpet.

I was holding on for dear life but wishing gravity would stop and send me flying into the oblivion of nonexistence. I didn’t want to exist anymore. I lost my desire to live.

The pain of disappointment, and the realization that I would never, ever experience a relationship with an earthly father hit me, and it was excruciating to the little girl inside me. This was the first time in my life my hope was gone. This moment was followed by an interrupted suicide attempt, in which God sent me someone to save me from myself. Well played Jesus. Well played.

So, while this event didn’t happen on Father’s Day, Father’s Day is my trigger day. It’s the day I’m “supposed” to honor the one that was “supposed” to be my father. The problem, is the recurring doubt that leads me to be anxious each time this day comes around. I hate to say it, but I still have doubts.

I still experience the pain of disappointment every year. I am but a mere human after all. Because I’ve maintained sobriety, each year it’s different, and I grow a little more. The sober little girl inside me has learned to hope for things unknown, and unseen.

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When I say I have to meet these things every year and wrestle them to the ground, I refer to the feels the father wound festers up. I wish I could say it’s a nasty scar I carry around with me. Unfortunately, it still has a significant amount of healing to do before it can scar over. It’s cool though. I’ll continue to feel the feels sober, and of sound mind because then, and only then can I hear the voice of hope. To me, the voice of hope is God, and his Son.

He whispers to me. All so delicately (even when I’m cussing him out) and he says “I got you, baby girl. I got you, and we got this. It’s that time again. Time to give it over to me. Take my son’s hand, and let me lead you out of this mess, toward greener pastures.” Then, and only then, does the magic happen. It takes me a minute, but I stop what I’m doing and I listen. Now, the million dollar question.

How do I maintain my sobriety through the years of grief ?

I have one simple rule for living through the mess.

I’ve learned to listen to the voice of reason. I’ve learned to shut my f*cking mouth, open my ears to the voice of God, to feel the feels, and give an appropriate reaction. Then and only then will the healing occur.

While at times I’m in a season of exploring minefields of triggers with explosions of emotion going off everywhere I turn, if I can follow this one, simple rule for living, I’ll be okay. I’ll make it. And you know what? You will too. You’ll make it and I’ll make it, because we’re bad-asses like that.

In the meantime….Stay Sober My Friends!

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