I swear I've written a blog about this subject, but for the life of me I can't find it. So, if you've been reading this blog for years I apologize if this is a repeat. But then again, maybe it bears repeating.
I received an email from someone who was generally beating herself up because of a falling out with family members during the last week. Her husband has only been gone a month.
Now, as almost all of you know...nothing brings out the best and the worst in people like the death of a loved one. We all say things in the heat of the moment that we hope will be forgiven someday (or we hope we find the patience to forgive others for things they might have said). I know I've been there - as those of you who read my book know, my mom and I had a falling out over the cardboard boxes in my garage just weeks after my husband's death.
But this woman's problem is compounded by the fact that she was "under the influence" when she had these discussions. And she's having a really hard time forgiving herself.
Again, I feel like I've addressed this before, but I know from hanging out on the widow block for a while that extreme grief and can sometimes lead to addiction. I know I joke about having a glass of wine or two every once in a while and maybe I shouldn't - it is a very real problem in our community.
The difference between widow drinking and other forms of consumption is that we're not doing it to have a good time. We're not doing it because we're out partying it up with our friends. We're not necessarily hoping it will make us feel better and we find it hard to believe that we could feel worse.
So, why do we do it?
Because we don't want to feel anything at all. At least for a little while.
I will admit that I've stared down this abyss myself. Widowed, stuck at home with three small children who would go to bed at 8 PM and leave me with a silent house and a feeling of loneliness I don't even think is possible to put into words...it was sometimes pretty hard to fight the urge to seek that numbness. And when you're already in a state of feeling abandoned by the person you thought would always be there and wondering would anyone care if I just had one more...?
Yes. Someone cares. There is a whole community of us who care.
The issue (one of the many) with self-medication is that it compounds the problems we already have: We're depressed, tired, and emotionally drained. It can make us feel anxious (which most of us already are) and depletes us of our already vanishing physical reserves.
We're already dehydrated from crying so much and then we tack on a bender? That can't be good.
As with most things, I've figured out there is no one solution for everyone. Some people have found solace and help through churches and support groups. You know me - I'm all about finding a good counselor to fix what ails you. And some people just have a wake-up call of their own and suddenly think, "I just can't do this anymore."
But the number one thing that I hope that anyone reading this understands is, as with most things when it comes to widowhood, you are not alone. There are others out there who are struggling just as you are. There are those who have climbed out of that abyss and are willing to share their knowledge and understanding to get you through. Remember that there are online communities (like mine and many others)
where you can post anonymously without worrying your mother-in-law is
going to read it.
Find those people.
You are not alone.