Death - A 3 Part Series

DEATH: Day 1

My brother died...I test saying it out loud to my friend before I have to tell my children.

I dissolve. Granulated pieces.

I'm so surprised by my shock when we all knew the alcoholism would get him in the end. Braincell by braincell. It got my oldest brother too only four years ago.

But I can't think about that now. I shake my head hard. If I think about them both at the same time, it makes my head ache.

So I think of my spiderweb of people. My people.

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Who can I tell that will love me but expect nothing from me? Because there's nothing here.

I'm gutted.

I start reaching out. One at a time.

They say..."What can I do?"

I say..."Just send love."

At the end of the day, I sit with my little family. They have come with me to the lake because they know what I need.

We watch the flames.

And I think of all of the people who are sending love. In the purity of that moment is when I know one thing for certain.

That's what it's all about.

Just send love.


DEATH: DAY 2 - On alcoholism.

It's like rust. Slowly corroding the person you knew. Until what's left is a frame and rough edges. Like an old car in a junkyard.

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What was left was a shadow of the man I remember. What was left was someone at the bottom of a well and I could hear just an echo of his true voice.

Lies. Deceit. Shame. Hiding.

A chameleon changing his colors to survive and drink another day.

The people who are left are holding a basket of emotion.

Rage. Frustration. Incredulity. Compassion. Love. Disappointment. Confusion. Pain. Desperation. Anger.

In one moment I can feel all of those feelings.

Today I think of the boy I knew. Quick to laugh, riding his bike, tender hearted.

He told me when I was little I was afraid of thunder. He would hold me to comfort my fears.

When he needed comfort, he'd hold me and whisper, "rumble rumble" to sound like thunder.

And I'd grab him and hold tight.

Rumble, rumble.


DEATH: DAY 3 - Quitting Drinking.

To understand why I quit drinking, you need to understand my history with alcohol.

I grew up in a small South Dakota town in the 80’s. Binge drinking was common back then. We did beer bongs and shots and would get DRUNK.

My family patterning was that alcohol was common - for everyday, for celebration and to check out, numb out, not feel.

When I was a young adult, I don’t remember thinking about alcohol, but it was always there. Beer mostly. Hard alcohol was for “drinkers.” Again, getting drunk was a common practice followed by raging hangovers.

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When I was a professional, there were happy hours. We would go to a bar after work and drink to excess. My friends and I would drink and go dancing.

Drinking permeated my social life.

When I became a mother was when I started paying attention to my relationship with alcohol. I never wanted to drink too much with my kids around. But when they weren’t? One drink too many.

All of this was considered really NORMAL in our culture.

Moms joke about it being “wine o’clock.”

In time, without my really realizing it, I was drinking a few drinks every day. It didn’t seem to be a problem and I certainly didn’t think too much about it.

Add onto this that my partner and I were wine drinkers. There is a mystique with wine. We went to wine country. We had a cellar. We paired it with really good food. We would say, “It’s a foodstuff.”

Hm. Wine is not a foodstuff.

The truth was that alcohol was a crutch. For me, being a stay-at-home-mom was HARD. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it and I felt really grateful that I could choose to be with my kids.

But I didn’t come from the kind of family where I wanted to do the same thing that my family did with regard to parenting. There were many, many triggers and pitfalls for me as I tried to re-parent myself while parenting my own children.

So…wine, for me, became my reward at the end of a day.

Every day.

And then my oldest brother died.

We were driving out of the woods from camping and my dad called. My brother had died due to complications from a lifetime of alcoholism and alcohol abuse.

At the time, I was drinking every day.

I started reading about alcoholism. Articles about how many drinks a day equals being an alcoholic. Articles about what the symptoms of alcoholism are. Articles about stopping. Was I an alcoholic?

The idea of quitting drinking had never occurred to me until my brother’s death. Why quit? What would the reasons be for me? What would be my WHY?

Here’s what happened. Truly. Three things happened. 

  1. I read an article that said that alcohol was a neurotoxin. A NEUROTOXIN. It will kill your damn braincells. It is TOXIC for your brain.

  2. I read an article that said that alcohol was a degenerative disease. If used regularly, alcohol will start to make permanent changes in your brain wiring and in your whole system. What happens is a degeneration or a breakdown of your system.

  3. I signed up for a 500 hour yoga teacher training with Yoga North. I knew that if I was going to invest in essentially a master’s degree of training that I wanted to be CLEAR in thought. I felt that something profound was going to happen within the training that was just for me and I needed to be ready for it. I needed to be SOBER.

These three things happened within a week of each other. And for some reason the combination of all of them, my family history, and the realization that alcohol pulls me off my center was it for me.

I quit on August 23, 2016.

It wasn’t difficult to quit for me physically. I am grateful for that. The stories I’ve heard from detoxing from alcohol can be very challenging.

The more challenging aspects are wanting it in awkward family or social situations where alcohol can kind of help the introvert in me cope.

I am an intuitive empath – I am deeply sensitive to the emotional temperature in a room and the people in it. I feel everything. I know things.

Alcohol helped me cope with that when the room is hostile, awkward, difficult, challenging etc.

My crutch was gone.

Holy crap. ALL OF THE FEELS. I COULD FEEL EVERYTHING. EVERYONE. AAAHHHHHH!

I had to learn to create and defend my boundaries and get really clear about when and where I choose to use my intuitive abilities. Essentially, I had to develop a force field.

To be clear, alcohol didn’t give me a force field. It STOPPED ME FROM FEELING.  

Without alcohol as a crutch sometimes left me feeling like a raw nerve. So I had to learn tools to help soothe me – a hot bath or shower, my SomaYoga practice, quiet, a cup of tea, a nap.

Quitting drinking has been a tremendous gift. This life is precious. I want to live it. Feel it. Do it. Be present in it. I want to be present in the living of my own life. Each moment. I live brighter. I feel more alive. I am embodied in my SELF in a way that wasn’t possible when I was drinking. I am more powerfully Sarah if that makes sense.

I am grateful.

So grateful.

Because had I not stopped…who knows? I don’t dwell on it. But three days ago my other brother died of alcoholism…

I suppose there is more to say about all of this – about anxiety and depression, about how difficult it is for people who are deeply sensitive to live in the world when they haven’t been taught how, and about how society makes numbing out so easy. There are so many ways to numb out.

If you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol, here are some resources:

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Association

 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism

Peace, Sarah