Those of us living with addiction and mental illness are also often coping with painful tragedies in our lives, traumatic experiences we’re still reeling from, events we don’t understand and can’t wrap our brains around, losses we feel we’ll never be able to recover from. Culturally we’ve been conditioned to avoid thinking and speaking on tragedy because it’s just too difficult, and it can be seen as impolite. We don’t know what to think or say, and nothing we do can lighten the load or ease the burden of the person affected by tragedy. In our families and communities we may have learned to move past tragedy and not to dwell on it. We might have been told that there’s no use mourning what can’t be brought back, and that there’s no sense in grieving what we can’t control. We develop emotional patterns of suppression, denial and avoidance. We resist our pain and try to avoid feeling it altogether. What are some of the ways in which we’re impacted by tragedy?
Tragedy brings along with it a whole host of emotions, many of which we feel are too painful for us to even address most of the time. We feel the deep sadness of unrelenting grief. We feel confusion and overwhelm. We struggle to make sense of things, to come to terms with the inexplicable pain we’re experiencing. We feel our faith being tested, our faith in the goodness of the world, our faith in what’s right and wrong, our faith in our higher power. We wonder how our higher power could ever let this happen to us. We’re angry. We’re bitter. We resent the fact that bad things happen to good people, and that tragedy strikes those who don’t deserve it.
When we’re feeling the painful weight of tragedy, we often will use our drugs of choice to numb our pain. We want desperately to remove ourselves from the situation at hand and to stop our minds from replaying memories of the tragedy over and over again. We want to get high, zone out and forget. We want to numb ourselves and self-medicate as much as possible. We don’t feel capable of, or strong enough to, move past the pain we’re feeling. Sometimes we don’t want to move past it. We wear our grief like armor, and carry it tightly in our hearts, maintaining a strong attachment to it, and refusing to let it go. Many of the ways in which we deal with our emotions surrounding tragedy make it harder for us to heal and prevent us from moving forward in our addiction recovery.
Riverside Recovery understands all of the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and is here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.