Tuesday, April 1, 2008

All kinds of losses

I had the meeting topic last night. I had thought about a topic but decided to change it after I received a call from a fellow Al-Anoner. He was dealing with some painful feelings around changes in a relationship. So I went with a reading from the new Al-Anon book Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses about loss of a relationship.

I know that alcoholism has affected my life in lots of ways. And there have been feelings of grief and loss. Maybe I only felt the anger though and didn't recognize my feelings as being those of grief.

I don't think that many of us know that we are grieving what has happened in our relationships with an alcoholic. I masked my grief in many ways but I ultimately felt the pain and gave in to it.

After my father died, I read the book on Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler Ross. She indicates that the grief process includes five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and, finally, acceptance.

Maybe it's because I'm a scientist, but it gave me some comfort to read that grief was a process. And that eventually I would be able to accept my loss and move beyond the grieving.

With the alcoholics in my life, I don't think that I really got to the acceptance part until I went through the steps. I came to realize that alcoholism is a disease and that the alcoholics didn't purposely want to hurt anyone. I had been stuck in the anger, bargaining and sadness phases of grief for a long time.

And there are still moments where I experience feelings of loss in recovery. I've changed in many ways from the way that I used to be. That can generate uncertainty, especially in the dynamics of a relationship with another person. It may be that I'm changing and the other person isn't. Or perhaps that giving up the character defects that I had lived with for so long can bring on self-doubt and a feeling of loss.

But I can see that the Twelve Steps provides a program for dealing with grief and losses. As I'm learning to accept and forgive, then I can feel happiness and love.

"There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year's course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness."--Carl Jung


  1. i wish more people would grieve. for other reasons than just the death of a person. you had to with al-anon, i had to with giving up alcohol, others do in their own particular areas. 'cause once you have grieved the thing you mean to give up/change/have to accept/can no longer do, it makes it so much easier to move on without harbouring resentment or guilt. and only then can you live a full life. going through the grief process was actually something they encouraged us to do in rehab. it made sense then and still does now. thanks for the reminder!

  2. hiya syd! i haven't had a chance to go to any of the blues festivals as of yet. i just found this though that lists a bunch of them for clarksdale: http://www.clarksdale.com/

    kewl huh. thanks for bringing that up b/c I may have not looked into it. i am going to Jazz fest. in New Orleans at the end of this month. looking forward to that.

    i listened to this audio recently on doubt and it is really good if you want to take a listen: http://www.abhayagiri.org/index.php/main/medium/doubt/

    love that one when feelings of self doubt / uncertainty creep in. good one!

    have a great rest of your day friend!

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  4. I had never really thought about it that way..that there are stages...yet it is so true.
    Great post.

  5. Great post...beautiful picture!

  6. I love the picture too :)
    yeh the stages of grieving, are so true. I notice them when I stop a habit, or change something, or something changes, people come and go etc. Its not just about physical dying like you say.

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  8. Thank you for your blog. Your statement that alcoholics are not purposely trying to hurt us brought tears to my eyes. I am so hurt by my recovering son. I have been to one Alanon meeting but will be attending more. I really feel I need the 12 steps. I hope I can find you again. I have trouble finding blogs and attaching links and favorites on this website.


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