Absolutely, we made the right decision in choosing recovery. Our lives were in shambles, and we were barely functioning the way we were. Yet now we are conflicted, feeling down and longing for our substance-use days, or at least the people and places. We feel a sense of loss as if part of us is missing and we are not sure why. So why do we feel grief in recovery?
Where Grief Comes From in Recovery
When we are in recovery, there are so many emotions. Many of us, at some point in our journey, feel a powerful sense of grief and loss associated with our substance use. This can seem strange. How can we mourn something that was so destructive in our lives?
However, grieving is a natural emotion when we have made such an extensive change in our lives. We gave up our method of coping. We gave up activities and places that played a big part in our lifestyles. We may have even given up friends, family, or other relationships that were associated with it. Everything that we were, the people we associated with, the places we went… that is all gone now. It is normal to feel loss for such dramatic and sudden changes.
Change Is Hard
We normally associate grief and loss with the death of people we knew and loved. That is a hard thing to cope with. However, change of any kind can be a hard thing to cope with, particularly when we know that we cannot afford to go back. We cannot afford to return to that lifestyle, those habits, and those people and places.
Even if the changes we are making are positive, and the life we left behind was not, we might still feel loss and grieve for what we left behind. This is a difficult thing that we have done, a 180° turn in our lives, and that is very, very difficult to do.
A Roller Coaster of Emotions
Another factor when we are in recovery is that we are subjected to a complete roller coaster of emotions. Anger, fear, sadness, joy, hope, and even grief are just a few of the emotions we feel as we transition from substance use to sobriety. Sometimes we feel all of those emotions within a single day, or maybe even the same hour.
The important thing is that we learn to feel our emotions. Too often during substance use, we ignore our emotions or do not feel them, and perhaps cannot even identify them. To experience grief, joy, anger, sadness, and more is part of the healing process. Part of our recovery process is to learn to not only experience and feel our emotions again, but also to learn to self-regulate them. Experiencing grief can actually help us learn to regulate our emotions, too.
Honoring Our Emotions
Grieving is part of our healing process. We do not need to be ashamed that we feel loss, it is important to feel the emotions, notice where they are coming from, and honor them. When we allow ourselves to work through the grief, we can heal from that part of our life.
Honoring our emotions, no matter what they are, helps us to acknowledge our feelings and look at where they are coming from. As we are willing to do this, we can heal from our pain, and be blessed by the positive emotions. Our emotions are a part of who we are and deserve to be honored and acknowledged.
When we look inside, it is not actually surprising at all that we might feel a deep sense of grief and loss in our recovery process. After all, we are saying goodbye to a significant portion of our life. However, after experiencing grief, we can find clarity in what we are doing and why.
Knowing what we sacrificed, the things we said goodbye to, helps us to strengthen our resolve going forward and appreciate the road we are on now. When we doubt whether or not we made the right decision, we can look back at our experiences of grief and loss and be clear that they were a sacrifice that was worth making.
In spite of the seeming irony that losing something that was destructive to us and our lives would cause us to grieve, the entire experience can be a learning process for us. We might begin by feeling grief or loss, then feel guilt or shame for having those emotions. However, we learn in treatment that guilt and shame are judgments and that we should simply accept.
That takes us back to our grief, which we can feel and honor, but eventually, we must simply accept. What started as part of an emotional roller coaster can become a life lesson for us in emotional regulation. That is some emotional irony.
Why do I feel grief in recovery? We can feel so many things in recovery, which is one of the blessings of choosing recovery. We can feel again. Find your emotions at AToN Center. We can help guide you throughout your emotional and recovery journey. Call us at (888) 535-1516 today. We can help you grieve, we can help you rejoice, we can help you feel all of the emotions your recovery will bring. Be free to feel again.