When he died I would not touch the stuff. I barely ate the first few weeks. The only drink I consumed was a full week after he passed away. I just worried that if I started I would not stop. I also did not wallow in unchanged bed sheets for that same reason, or put myself into his worn clothing for comfort. Instead I stayed sober and alert and ask my mom to wash all the sheets and clothing immediately. I know that not everyone would have done this. It was not me being less sad it was literally a survival mode that kicked in. Some days I wish I could be the person who laid in the filth of days old clothing and sheets and smelled of him. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to keep his scent around me. But I promise if I did I would not be where I am today. I would not be coming to you in your living room on a blog about grief waves and resiliency. I would still be there wallowing because it would have felt so safe to be amongst his things.
Does any of this sounds like you?
At home you have monitored your intake. You want to be sure you are not over indulging alone in your house. You are conscious of each bottle you drink, how many drinks you have. You know for a while you had a bit more than you should have. But then you have that support person sending you happiness via text, call this person Distraction. You notice your intake is down to barely nothing. You have a person taking your mind of the sad loneliness for long enough to make you forget to have a drink that night. You are thankful.
Fast forward to the time when you start to attempt a new life for yourself outside of the confines and safety of your house. At the bar or out at a concert you fall into the fun of the crowd and the dream that your life could be like theirs (less complicated, more fun, happier). You watch in somewhat envy at the time they are having, their biggest worry may have been who will watch the kids, or who will drive home if we all drink. (By the way you are not so self-indulgent that you think none of them have issues but in this moment you are not considering those because they look like they are having the time of their lives.) In this new life you are now considered SINGLE. You are thrust into the scene you thought you were done with. You enter the bar and you immediately are hit by the share number of people having a wonderful time. You too want to have that kind of evening. You tell yourself you will have one or two to loosen up. But sometimes two turns into more and you start to sway with the music, socialize, and live. Then it hits you hard and fast. Alcohol is a depressant. After that initial loosen up moment you start to feel lively and then you start to feel sad shortly thereafter. You have had too much. There is no turning back to the happy side.
When you crash into sad mode you start to cry, feel sorry for yourself, and soon after despise the person you are even more than when you walked into the bar. You may be with people, you may be alone, but either way you need to go home. Home to the quiet again. You are embarrassed by your silent tears. You just wanted to be ok and have fun.
Then you Facebook message your friend to confess you messed this night up (again). You say “alcohol and grief don’t mix”. Reply “Alcohol & many things don’t mix in a good way”… That is true. You decide that you will be on guard even outside the house and strongly consider not drinking anymore at all. Many people do it of course and it sometimes seems like they have less drama and complications. You decide you will limit the nights out entirely and be kinder to yourself and give yourself more time in terms of social situations.
When you are trying to avoid stormy waves, Alcohol needs to back off.