Each Friday night, about thirty people, myself included, gather to share a meal together and what may be on our hearts from the current week. “Addiction and recovery” is the tagline for this group and mostly relates to drugs and alcohol but what I’ve learned in attending is that to some degree or another, we’re all either addicted and/or recovering from something. Serving as co-leader of this amazing group of honest and transparent people, I had the pleasure of leading a few weeks ago and took on the topic of “grief in addiction”. 

The question was asked, “Was there a particular loss prior to your struggle with addiction?” Like most Friday nights, the person to my left answered first and most everyone spoke until we ended with the person to my right. While maybe only two said they couldn’t recall any grief prior to their first taste of drugs or alcohol, most mentioned the death of a loved one, a difficult relationship or one of more than forty loss experiences. Immediately following the meeting, those who didn’t speak offered to share with me in private they couldn’t speak through recalling their pain. 

Often, we forget all of us have not walked in the same shoes. I know I do; however, this is one of my favorite things about people . . . everyone has a story. And although it may not be the same as mine, there is much to take away. Something each of us can relate to. Loss is definitely something we can all relate to.

Having previously established he had a most difficult relationship with his dad, a grieving son said, “Even though I’d won numerous awards for my abilities, I never felt good enough.” No matter how many times positive comments were placed in his ‘bucket’, he said it always felt like it had a hole in the bottom of it. Those “You’ll never be good enough” tapes played in his mind over and over.

And without realizing it, his inability to accept he was enough led him to mask the pain with alcohol. Perhaps each of us has not been labeled by our chosen method to fill the void inside our hearts. But at some point, have all tried to fill that emptiness with one thing or another.

Grief. It comes in many forms. Recognizing it and making a conscious decision to go through it is tough but so worth it. And what can be even tougher is reaching out for help. But so worth it.

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