Re-claiming a Simple Pleasure

DISCLAIMER: Post about alcohol

When Dan died unexpectedly from depression, the PTSD had such an effect on my body, I couldn't tolerate alcohol. A glass of wine or two and I'd either be catatonic and sleepy or violently ill.  This was probably a blessing in disguise at the time because believe me, I tried to drink - I would have LOVED to drink. Anything to numb the pain and take the edge off would have been dangerously tempting for me.  So maybe my body was protecting me by rejecting alcohol during a time I could have been very vulnerable to over-indulgence.

There are a few times in the first two years that I had a few drinks and didn't react poorly.  For example, at Camp Widow in July 2014, around my one-year mark, I let my hair down at the banquet dinner and felt happy and relaxed and enjoyed myself.  I had a few drinks and handled it ok, but could have been largely due to the adrenalin I'd been experiencing at the same time.  

Usually though, I hardly drank either.  I felt so tired all the time,  alcohol only made that worse and it was only on a rare and special occasion that I'd have something, and even then, usually end up calling it an early night.  

However in the past few months I seem to have gotten my tolerance for alcohol back.  I've been socialising a lot more, going out to dinner with friends or even a date here or there (with no great success) and I've found that when I've had one or two drinks, I haven't felt those negative physical effects that I had in the early days.  

The return of alcohol to my life is certainly not significant enough to be a concern.  It's not regular, excessive, or irresponsible but for the first time in a long time I've felt able to come home from a long week of work on a Friday night, pour myself a glass of wine or make a martini and enjoy the mellow buzz.  I've also felt 'normal' when socialising with friends.  For a long time I was the designated driver and my drink of choice was sparkling water.  I've enjoyed the social ritual, after really not wanting to be sociable at all. 

I'm by no means advocating alcohol as a refuge from grief, I think the risks in that are obvious and mine won't be an experience that everyone shares.   But for me personally, this is another step I've noticed towards re-claiming control of my life and my body and not having every part of my world be dictated by my grief.  

It feels like a step worth noting, like somewhat of an achievement in my healing process.  

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  • commented 2016-03-28 03:38:11 -0700
    Thank you for this. As a second generation widower, I am trying not to follow in my father’s footsteps. I lost my mother to a brain tumor in 1970 when I was 12 and my father cried on the couch for about a month and then stated hitting the bars after work, sometimes five nights a week and he made one bad choice after another. He also became a functioning alcoholic for the next 25 or 30 years. I am desperatly trying not to avoid family history. I come right home after work, I have a nice supply of booze in the fridge and haven’t touched a drop. Yes, I do occasionally have one or two beers at social gatherings, but thats it. I feel this is a crucial time in my becoming me 2.0 and adding getting drunk alot would be the worst thing I can do.
  • commented 2016-03-26 19:58:22 -0700
    I so appreciate your writing this article, Rebecca, and I thank you for acknowledging the dangers of using alcohol in the early days of grief. Good for you in your efforts to tune in to yourself, notice where you are now and recognize your own progress in re-claiming control of your life and your body! I’ve added a link to your post at the base of my own, “Mixing Grief with Alcohol: Will It Lead to Addiction?” here:
  • commented 2016-03-26 18:58:13 -0700
    Thank you for the post. My late partner, Jonathan, died overdosed accidentally stopping his heart, which was related to his depression 15 months ago tomorrow, at 42. We lived together for 12 years. I can completely relate to your post. I felt the same way about alcohol. He struggled with addiction, and I felt that I can’t let go sometimes. I am just now trying to figure it all out (still). I actually bought a soda stream, as well.