• Melissa Armstrong

Grieving the loss of substances

I'm reflecting on the fact that I'll have five years of recovery this week.

I took a grief poetry class in early 2015, less than one year in to recovery, at the recommendation of a wise friend. My grief was fully around the loss of substances in my life. I just pulled out some of my poems from that class. Here is one (an elegy, which is written in 3 parts: lament, praise, consolation.) Frankly, the first time I ever wrote poetry was in this class, and it really pushed me to open up to other people in a really vulnerable way. The me of 2015 would've been mortified to share this. As I read it now, I notice how much I have grown and transformed and changed in the last five years.

Lament for an old self

Can you die from shame?

I tried.

Happily, it didn’t work.

I put a lot of effort into it,

Sitting alone in an empty basement, blacking out my life

With a bottle that empties but doesn’t fill.

The bottle - my faithful friend and ally,

Never failing to abide, and to provide

The love, the rush, and the security

Until it turned on me -

And drew out the monster inside of me.

The therapist said we'd really start getting to the bottom of what’s wrong with me.

We still haven’t found the bottom, which is a concern.

I just liked to party, I say, if partying is defined as sitting alone in your basement

and refusing to accept the consequences of your actions.

I was great at partying.

I came to believe that there was a better option than falling down the stairs.

The only thing left to believe in is sanity.

What do you do when you can’t go back, because there's nowhere to return to?

The 12 steps give (sanity) and take away (the old self, dead in the basement).

Right now, the future is very scary.

Melissa Armstrong

February 12, 2015

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Melissa Armstrong
Toronto, Worldwide

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