Denial is a word tossed around liberally when it comes to the disease of Alcoholism. It's most often a reference to the very early phases of the drinking when the drinker denies (to himself) he has a problem when it is obvious to those around him he does have a problem. To get to any level of sobriety, an Alcoholic has already tackled that form of denial. What this excerpt from Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud addresses is a different form of denial that rears its head during recovery: The denial that life has, or has to, change because we lost something. It is a stage of the grief process.
“Alcoholics have a tendency to cling to their denial of their losses, not of their problem. By lingering in the stage, it only makes the cortisol worse. Even though the reason we linger in denial is simply that we don’t want to feel worse, we’re actually feeling worse because of the cortisol. To move away from more of continued Symptoms, the denial evolves into anger. Ashley Davis Prend identifies it as going from “Not me” to “Why me?” and it takes a long time.
“On average it takes one to three years to work through the disorganization and anger stage. That’s because you need to process the grief repeatedly so it can sink in, settling on deeper levels of consciousness over time.”
Simply put, you’re not going to be pissed off one time for one day, but you’re entitled to it and it is a healthy part of what comes naturally during mourning and recovery. Different anniversaries rekindle the anger. Social losses and financial ones have long tails and breed anger over and over. Impatience sparks the anger, too, because all of us Alcoholics have a little control freak in us.
Unfortunately, some of us never get past the anger because that’s where we lapse. We drink at the anger. Or if we don’t drink, we become what’s known as a dry drunk, a bitter and angry person who doesn’t and won’t drink. The dry drunk won’t find recovery, but will maintain sobriety because they cling to the anger. They become dry drunks because of a false sense of power anger provides. It does beat being sad. Sad feels so broken, anger feels powerful, but sadness is the next stage. Rather than moving forward, the dry drunk chooses the power of anger rather than feeling like the ornament at the bottom of the Christmas storage box. They’re usually more of a pain in the ass than they were when they were drinking.”