This is my first Christmas “home” without my mom. The photo above is me and my dad yesterday. Being home is bittersweet, it feels so good to be back with my family, and I love the sunshine, but there is definitely a missing puzzle piece. In 2018 I lost my mom, and so this trip is the first time I am experiencing a California Christmas without her.
Sitting with feelings wasn’t something that I learned how to do until I quit drinking every day. I would numb the sadness out when I felt it creeping in, because making it fuzzy felt like an easier way to deal with it. I have learned so much since she passed away about myself and how to process the grief that came with her leaving me way too early.
I don’t want to sit here and claim to have all the answers but if it’s helpful, this is some of what I’ve learned about losing someone I loved with my whole heart.
1. Drinking doesn’t make anything better. The heart ache is still there in the morning, but the grief is then compounded with hangover headaches and the continuing feeling of being slightly sedated all the time.
2. Not processing the grief just makes the pain last longer, feel bigger, and it gets so overwhelming it’s can be hard to breathe. I remember a friend telling me- “I know it doesn’t feel like it, but it will get easier.” I thought she was completely insane and clearly didn’t love her mother as much as I had loved mine. The truth is it did get easier, but only when I stopped trying to bury and drown out the sorrow.
3. Dealing with the dark stuff made room for the light to come back in. I used to numb the sadness out by drinking, but it meant I couldn’t experience any of the joy or happiness happening around me everyday like I do now. I didn’t experience gratitude like I do now. I couldn’t experience peace like I do now. I wish I had known that sooner.
4. I know that when people lose someone they seem to learn the lesson for the first time that life really is short. And it is, but I was making it shorter by not cataloging memories while I was drinking. Drinking screws with your memory. I missed a lot from 2018-2020. And being a mother myself, life is too short to miss years like that.
I know Christmas time can be rough if you’ve lost someone. I hope this helps a tiny bit. Sending you lots of love today. If the idea of ditching the wine sounds totally overwhelming, I get it. I’ve been there and I would love to try to help you.