Permission to Feel

A Time to Weep and Laugh

It’s been a while, but I’m still here – sober and living life! Now that the birthdays are over (until December!) and school has started, I find myself easing back into that predictable routine that by the end of summer I so desperately miss. I’m hoping a new routine also means a little more writing time for me. I don’t realize how much I depend on my writing for my own sanity until I’m not doing it anymore!

I heard the above scripture read out loud the other day while driving and it really hit me. Usually, I only hear it spoken out loud when I’m watching Footloose and Kevin Bacon’s character is speaking at the town hall meeting trying to convince the community to reinstate dancing…but that’s a whole different story. Way off topic.

When I heard this scripture the other day, it made me think of my life now – my sober life- and how I navigate the reality of living life on life’s terms. For the most part, life is good. It’s really good. I’m the best version of myself that I’ve ever been, but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. And, the struggles are just as important as the happy and joyous parts of my life. The difference now, is that instead of trying to numb or guard myself from those struggles by drinking, I have to move through them.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a really crappy day. I woke up feeling fine, but by mid-morning I found myself losing it. My husband had taken the kids to the gym, and as I stood cleaning the stove, I felt this tremendous sense of grief hit me. Tears started streaming down my face and I thought, “I miss my mom SO much right now.” My mom passed away over seven years ago from pancreatic cancer, but sometimes it feels like yesterday. And, then I found myself in the bedroom cleaning, and once again the grief hit me and before I knew it I was sitting on the floor, leaning up against the bed, sobbing. All at once I felt so much loss. The loss of my mom, the loss of my friend Sadie, the loss of relationships with those I was once close to. It was heavy and suffocating and I all I could do was sit there and cry. I wanted the pain and hurt to go away – oh how I prayed for it to go away – but I knew, despite the heart wrenching pain, I had to move through it.  This was me, living life on life’s terms. It’s not easy, but it’s what I do now. I know it’s what I HAVE to do if I don’t want to go back to that horrible place I came from – the drinking and numbing.

I have FINALLY learned (not always the easy way) to give myself permission to “weep” and to “mourn.” And, part of this is also learning how to be honest with those around me and ask for help. When my husband got home, I told him what had happened and said, “I’m having a really hard day. I’m going to be okay, but I need to work through it.” He knows. He knows I will have hard days where the grief of losing my mom and my friends will hit me out of nowhere. But, he isn’t a mind reader (as much as I would like to assume he is) and he needs me to be open and honest so he can step in and give the kids some extra attention or whatever is helpful in that moment. My husband, my sponsor, my friends – these are my lifelines. I reach out, I ask for help – this is what I have learned in sobriety.

The next day I felt better. I went to church, I talked to God – I fed my soul and I continued to move through the grief and depression I had been feeling the day before. By Monday, I felt better. I now know it’s a process, but I didn’t always “get” it. Before, I would stuff it all in, pack it down, put a smile on my face and pretend it was “okay.” I would try to numb it away with multiple glasses of wine, hoping that “one more” would make it all go away. And, it did for a while – until I woke up the next morning and went through the whole cycle over again.

I laugh a lot now. I laugh with my kids, with my husband, with friends – at myself! I laugh a lot more than I weep or mourn. I even dance now – sober! However, my dancing usually leads to even more laughing – if you know me, you’ll understand. For those that don’t, lets just say I’ve perfected the “white girl” moves!

Thank God for my sobriety, which has taught me to live life on life’s terms. Feel it, deal with it and move on. Easy? Not always. Worth it? Definitely!

8 responses

  1. What a lovely post. Even before the booze, I was a champion at stuffing my emotions. My husband was the first person to ever tell me that it was ok to feel my feelings. Whenever I am trying to “get it together,” he reminds me that I am a real girl, with real feelings. I’m so glad to be reminded because it’s so easy for me to forget.
    Thanks for this.

    • Thanks, Jami! I think as women we’re always trying to put on a good face for others, but there’s so much freedom in just letting go and being honest with ourselves. Thanks for reading!

  2. Asking for help is one of my biggest lessons and I’m still not very good at it. I love what you say about your husband not being a mind reader. I wonder if I sometimes expect others to read my mind because I try to read minds instead of asking how someone feels. Does that make sense? I try not to pry and then end up assuming how people feel. It’s something for me to think about. I’m glad you’re back!

    • Thanks, Karen! This is so funny because I was just talking to my good friend today about how she’s always trying to read her husband’s mind through body language and facial expressions! Seems like we tend to do everything BUT ask for what we want! It’s a process and I’m still learning!

  3. Lovely post, Chenoa. I get what you say, especially about asking for help. It was put in my head that “real” men don’t ask for help. We rescue, not get rescued. So asking for help wasn’t even on my radar. Self-reliance was the only thing that mattered. And if I failed, I would rather have failed on my own than succeeded with someone’s help. It was that feeling of feeling or looking weak that drove that. Anyway, that has been a different story in the last year or so. I am certainly more open in asking for help, and don’t care what it looks like (or what I *think* it looks like to others – perception). There is a strength in realizing that we are not alone and that we rely on one another. We were meant for intermingling and being with one another. Not being hermits and isolated (which we are good at). And as for the moving through pain…yeah. That’s a part of the growth. I have no issues allowing me to do that, and like you, it took me time to really, really, really give myself permission to do so. And it works. We wouldn’t have those emotions unless we needed them, yes? 🙂

    Great post.


    • Thanks, Paul! Yeah, I was a pro at self-reliance! You’re so right. We ALL need each other to lean on and help us through the rough times. I was just talking to someone today (in regards to all this political stuff) about how God created us all to be like family and treat each other as brothers and sisters. Now, if we could just embrace this ideas at ALL levels!

  4. I read your strength for knowing it’s okay to morn. I allowed myself that recently the day my twins were due, that had passed during pregnancy. My heart was so sad I cried & instead of putting it somewhere inside I allowed it to be part of that day that I so wanted it to be the opposite. I appreciate reading your strength because my sister does not stay sober, for all her clinics, counted days, love & trying she can not to date live like you. At the cost of loosing her marriage & not to be a consistent mother. I read about you to believe in you, of an amazing woman that lives life empowered by the strength you have from your life & god.

    • Thank you so much for your comment. I’m so sorry for your loss and the struggles that your sister continues to face in her sobriety. I think it’s hardest for those who love the alcoholic or addict. The sense of helplessness you feel can be overwhelming. I’m glad my words can give you hope and strength. Don’t give up on your sister. God can do miracles!

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