Step 1: Admit…… Do I have to?

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Isn’t it funny how you always want something that you cannot / should not have? It’s like the inner child in you wants to come out and scream “You can’t tell me what to do!” or “Just once won’t hurt, right?”, making what seems to be a perfectly legitimate excuse for your actions.  Well these are some of the thoughts that arise in my mind often since I decided to quit drinking alcohol. This liquid drug that can be used to TEMPORARILY cope with depression, sadness, anger, resentment, and any negativity that you wish to avoid, haunts me in moments like I never thought it would. I never believed that I had a problem, and it wasn’t until my husband and I began a recovery process after much damage had been done, that I realized I too have a problem. I may not have continually drown myself in alcohol to suppress the negative feelings and gotten to the point of losing full consciousness, but I used that to somewhat treat the problems. As well as began to incorporate it into many events in our life just as most people do. Especially after enduring a traumatic miscarriage.
One night my husband and I were laying together in our first apartment, happy as can be that we were expecting a new life. The beginning weeks had been rough on me; a lot of fatigue, morning sickness, random cramping, etc. That day at work I had experienced slight bleeding. Co workers and friends attempted to assure us that it was “alright” and “normal” for pregnant women to bleed at times, giving us examples of their own experiences. My husband was not impressed with the advise that we were receiving and felt very uneasy, so he decided to call the Dr’s office. He spoke with the nurse, and surely she advised us that I needed to go home and rest IMMEDIATELY. I frequented the bathroom, hoping the discomfort and bleeding would discontinue and it only fluctuated slightly, then worsened. I quietly prayed, talking to my unborn baby and telling them and even myself  that it would be ok. My husband knew when the pain became almost unbearable that we needed to leave NOW to go to the hospital, but I didn’t want to believe what was happening. I told him as well as myself again that it was ok, it would calm down soon. Finally it was time to go. I screamed in agony as my husband tried to keep me calm, and comfortable while rushing us to the hospital. It was like nothing I had ever felt before. My body was gradually working itself up to begin contractions as if I were giving birth, and expel the sack and fetus inside of me. We arrived at the hospital and I still had the hope that everything might end up “ok”. I could hardly walk through the parking lot, the pain only worsened with each step. I sat down and the Admin asked us what we were there for, my heart sank hearing my husband say ” We believe she is having a miscarriage”. I was frustrated, angry, sad, in pain, confused, and I tried to rush through the paperwork. Finally I told my husband and the Admin I couldn’t take it anymore and I needed to go to the bathroom. I felt an overwhelming pressure in my abdomen, and it felt like I was going to explode. I tried to hold on. I tried not to push, but  as I neared the bathroom door, I felt a large plop. My baby was gone. I made my way to a stall, praying to God this was not happening right now. I screamed for my husband, as I stared down at the sack with our lifeless little child in it. He rushed into the bathroom and asked if I was ok. I said nothing, I wept and placed the sack onto a paper towel and showed him under the stall door. I could hear his heart break into pieces with the gasp. I heard him begin to weep. I asked him what to do with him/her (?) We disposed of them, and that was the most heartbreaking of all. We felt as though we walked away from our child when we were their protector. Because those feelings were never dealt with properly we perpetuated it into the world in other ways; only causing much resentment and anger.
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We blamed ourselves, especially me, I blamed myself so much for that. I felt I could have done “better” as it was my body that was supposed to be protecting and nurturing them until they came into the world.  I went in, got an exam to make sure everything was expelled from my body and that was it. There we were, ready for a little life that was growing inside of me. Really they had stopped growing a week or so before that. We had been told that it was common and you almost never know why or how it happens but it does.  Some of our friends had too endured the loss of a child, but even with all the support it was easier said than done to “get over”.
My husband and I spiraled out of control and felt as though no one understood. Yes, many friends came to us and expressed their condolences as well as shared with us that they too had been through a similar situation. Although many could relate, there was still an emptiness that no one could seem to fill, not even each other. We drifted apart in ways, acted out and did many immature and hurtful things. Because we weren’t allowing our souls to feel the necessary feelings of grief, and distracted the thoughts by drinking any chance we got it only worsened, became habit, another pattern.  We just wanted to forget, rather than embrace and understand. After having a successful pregnancy which resulted in our now 2 year old daughter, everything seemed to come back together.  Yes, the entire pregnancy was surrounded by fear and anxiety. We didn’t want to lose another child,  but after having her we seemed to be moving forward. So we thought. We believed we had hidden those feelings of grief so well, when really everything had just begun to add onto the avoided pile of rubble (The elephant in the room). We had also endured the loss of my grandmother while I was pregnant with our now 2 year old, Alixandria, and I felt I needed to “keep it together” since stress could hurt the baby. Actually, holding in your emotions and tears causes much more stress than just feeling.
Our entire being was surrounded by this untouched loss that we wanted to push to the back of our minds and never think about; although we missed them so much and didn’t want them to think we forgot about or replaced them. So I too suppressed the feelings of grief associated with the loss of my grandmother.
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And instead we drank. We drank almost every night prior to getting pregnant with Ali, then most days after I gave birth to Ali, up until last December. We didn’t see it as a problem, an addiction even, because we believed we weren’t abusing it and we could stop if we truly wanted to. At dinners, when we would BBQ, at Holiday functions and birthday parties, every weekend, every night after work, alone or together, and most times that we had company even if they opted out of having a drink we had a drink or two or a shot or two. The biggest sign for me was when we decided we were strong enough to step out to familiar places again, and started to get back into things we enjoyed doing, even now I notice the old patterns. That association was right there as if it were second nature. Although I am not in counseling for substance or alcohol abuse, but rather codependency and other support, I feel it was important for me to recognize that I DID in fact have a problem as well.  I found myself entering places that we had gone to before, even the grocery store, and my mind would go to the previous habits. Figuring out what the drink of the night was going to be. Although I leaned more towards the social aspect of drinking it still had negative side effects, and started to become a crutch that was used often times in an attempt to cover up necessary feelings whether I wanted to admit that or not. I made the excuses, justified each drink in my mind even if it was “for fun”. Anyone who does not struggle with some sort of addiction or problem can easily stop or not drink in moments that are not appropriate for it. They won’t exclude themselves from an event because alcohol is not available, they will not go through withdrawal, they will not associate it with everything they do, and they will not get angry or frustrated when they cannot have alcohol. So many people do not think that they have a problem and truly they do. We only associate addiction when used in the stricter sense of the word most times.
Yes, this simple phrase is often used as something humorous or taken lightly, but the first step truly is admitting. It took me until just a few months ago, when I finally opened myself up completely and worked through my fear of being vulnerable, to understand and to admit and not judge just see for what it is. It may have started out as something that everyone does, something “fun”, but in dealing with my emotions I used alcohol as an outlet for avoidance even when I didn’t realize I was. I know that not everyone abuses alcohol or has a problem just because they drink, nor would I convince anyone to stop drinking. I just feel this was the best choice for me as well as my family. Some people in my life had always been open to admitting to having an “addictive personality”, but I never believed that was a possibility for me. I didn’t experiment with everything and anything, and again only understood addiction under the stricter sense of the word. I understand now, and in dealing with my grief and loss(es) and recognizing the negative patterns in my life I have opened my heart up to love that much more. As I said in my post about loss, you are not replacing or forgetting, you are embracing and expanding your puzzle of life with new pieces. The pieces that have gone will never be forgotten, and dealing with emotions through alcohol or other substances may feel like it is helping momentarily but the pain is still there. You are only pulling the rug over it for so long, and if it isn’t dealt with then those feelings will come out in other ways that are not appropriate for many situations. Socially, emotionally, either way I look at it I abused this liquid drug in some way and thought it was NEEDED to have fun or even to forget. Life is much different now, and much clearer and healthier. Each day is a new chapter, and there are still some struggles and old patterns and excuses that want to seep through especially this one, but now that I have admitted and accepted it is only up from here. Conscious, healthy living and loving with no judgment. ✌❤
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Toby <3

quote-griefEver since I’d lost my cat Joe I feared getting attached and going through that loss again. I bottled so much of that up as well because my mind and others would tell me that it was “silly” to be so upset at the loss of an animal, but we’d always felt that our pets were part of the family just like anyone else. I was convinced that only a small number of things in life deserved those feelings of grief, which only made things harder. I found myself wanting more pets, but I would talk myself out of it because I didn’t want to feel as though I was filling a void and forgetting and I feared losing another life.
  I finally found myself opening up recently about the grief in my life whether regarding my animals, my miscarriages, the death of my grandma, among other things, which resulted in us adopting our adorable kitten Calvin. Even the day of the adoption I found myself battling reluctance, but I did not want to have another “what if” moment due to fear.
 On August 15th I received a panicked call from my mom telling me that our cat of 19 years could no longer use his hind legs and I rushed to her immediately. I watched as he attempted to crawl away in agony, and just wanted the pain to stop. He wasn’t himself at all. The kisses I’d gotten all those years, the purrs, the snuggles, they were gone. He just wanted the pain to stop, and in that moment I slowly felt my mind trying to creep in again with those thoughts that only take away from the situation. I followed my mom to the vet, and we sat with much anxiety waiting to hear what was going to happen next. We were told we could go back in the room to speak with the doctor, and I felt the tears beginning to fall and that knot of grief in the pit of my stomach. We’d hoped there was something that they could do. The Dr came in and let us know that Toby had a blood clot in his lower abdominal area, which is common in cats, it had dropped down causing his lower half to be paralyzed. There was no longer a pulse in his legs, and they’d turned cold. His breathing had increased and he continued to whine in agony. He asked if we’d want them to do supportive care, or if we would like to put him down. The selfishness attempted to creep in as well, but my mom quickly stated she did not want him to live in pain any longer so we would like to do what is right for him. He said his condolences, and let us know that they’d give us as much time as we needed to say our goodbyes and they would take good care of him up until his last breath.
The tech brought our Fat man back in the room and we kissed and pet him as much as possible. We knew eventually we had to leave his side and let him rest peacefully, but it was so hard to walk away from him and tell the Dr we were ready. He stared into our eyes and meowed for the last few times, and I finally went and told them we were ready. The tech came in once again, gave her condolences and told us we were lucky to have such a sweet boy all these years, and assured he would be as comfortable as possible. As she scooped him up and pet his little head, he looked up at her and nestled her chin as if he were saying thank you.
Although Toby was a cat, he was part of our family. He was part of our puzzle that fit together so perfectly, which is why it is so hard to say goodbye. It feels as though that piece is missing and we can never repair. Person, or animal, everyone has their place in a family, and although some of the pieces are broken, that doesn’t mean we need to replace them, or be afraid to add again.
So adopting Calvin does not mean that it is going to mend the pain from the loss of Joe and now Toby, it just means that we are expanding our puzzle to create a larger picture, and we will never forget the pieces that have gone. Each piece had it’s importance, and it is okay to reminisce and grieve, but it is also ok to love again.
I’ve realized that this is a pattern with me in regards to grief. Fear of what could be gets the best of me, because of a previous occurrence. A loss of life is a loss of life no matter how big or how small and in dealing with the grief you’re allowing your heart to open up and love with everything again. Not avoiding, not masking, just allowing yourself to feel any and all emotions without any criticism as the mind is always trying to find an outlet for ignorance. The excitement of a new life should not be hindered by the loss of another. Just as I’d loved a little life inside of me at one point, and as quickly as it came it left. Not once, but twice. It was devastating, and I created any and all excuses not to feel and allowed other’s as well as my own mind to shift my true feelings. But because I reminded myself what I truly wanted, we now have a little 2 year old girl that we couldn’t imagine life without. And in dealing with the grief, now I have opened my heart up much more and continue to open new chapters that I once feared.
 I will miss everyone I have lost person or animal, and own the feelings of grief without any judgments. And I will appreciate the new lives that have been given to me such as my little Calvin and my princess Ali. They are not replacements, they are a new piece to our continuous puzzle in the beautiful picture that is life, and I will never forget the pieces that we lost as they held us together while they were here and will watch over us now that they have gone. I love you all, and thank you for being apart of my picture.