As a newly sober mom, I am flooded with regret. Regret that stops me dead in my tracks; even in the day light. The day light is usually safe because I am busy, but not now. Day light is fair game for self deprivation. I am a 35 year old, single, mom of two girls, 8 and 6. On the first day of school, August 2017, I went to the bar and drank all day, missing the school pick up time. I had to call my parents to pick the girls up from school. I’ve driven the kids to and from places after drinking on several occasions; I’ve gotten myself a DUI.
I know I’m not unique. I know other mothers struggle as I do, with deep, almost unbearable, shame and fear about the pain caused when drinking. I feel alone because I do not talk about my feelings regarding my behavior when I was drinking, because I’m embarrassed. I’ve been to a few AA meetings and they seem to help, but I’m new to the program and have not spoken up about my struggles. I am a full time nursing student (graduation June 2018) and I work, part time.
How common is my situation? In your experience, what might you recommend? A daily meditation? Any specific groups I should find in my area? I know feeling my feelings is overwhelming, because it’s been a long time since I’ve allowed myself to stand in the same space as my anxieties, fears, sorrows. Thank you for your time.
Mommy Under the Big Black Dog
One of the hardest things in my own early recovery was facing the things I spent so long numbing. Like you, I had SO many things I was not proud of, including words I could never take back. I had to realize that there is a line between regret and guilt — which can lead to positive changes if dealt with appropriately — and regret and shame.
Shame kept me stuck. I would obsess about my long laundry list of horrible choices over and over in my head all day, like a bad song on repeat. When shame starts talking, feelings of despair and worthlessness start to bubble up, and I tend to stay stuck in that pit. When I quit numbing those feelings with alcohol and drugs, and they were exposed, I was so raw it felt like my feelings were literally on the outside and any little thing that touched them hurt me deeply.
I still have times like that, but I’m learning that certain things cam help me deal with my shame. Counseling has been critical. Dealing with the things I tried to numb for so long was so scary. I put it off for a long time, but it has been worth every ounce of my time and energy. If counseling isn’t an option for you right now, there are excellent programs, like you mentioned, and even opening up to a trusted friend can help lighten that load.
Meditation, yoga and journaling those thoughts has help me process those feelings so they don’t get to that level of shame for me. Peer recovery support programs (check out our Resources Page for both 12step and non 12step options!) are an excellent place to connect, because we get reminders that we are not alone or unique in those feelings. If AA feels like the best option for you, keep going and make connections! Perhaps raise your hand and tell the room you’re new and looking for some support.
I am so thankful for my tribe of other moms in recovery through Sober Mommies, because they save me on the daily. Being able to be honest about what I think and feel in a safe place — even when it isn’t pretty — has been one of the greatest blessings in my life and recovery.
The internet, YouTube especially, is full of really good meditations to help you breathe deeper and be more aware and mindful of your heart too—I personally like guided meditations since I have a hard time quieting my busy racing thoughts.
One of our regular contributors, Esther Nagle, has some linked to her bio!
I am learning to right the wrongs I can, make amends to the best of my ability, and then let the rest go. Constantly beating myself up about things I’ve done wrong does nothing but lead me to more shame and self-destruction. So I try to do the best I can now and be open and apologize when I need to, but mostly to focus on doing the next right thing. One step at a time. We are here to listen and support you in our online groups and I hope you will find a community that feels comfortable for you to help you as you continue your journey.
Sending lots of love and support,
Have a question for a sober mom or want to read more like this? Visit Ask A Sober Mom!