Ask a Sober Mom: I Am Flooded with Regret

Sober Mommies Ask A Sober Mom: Flooded with Regret

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.

Signed,

Mommy Under the Big Black Dog

 

Dear Mommy,

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,

Nicole

 

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Ask a Sober Mom: I Did Not Sober Up For This

Sober Mommies Ask A Sober Mom Posts

“I’m 80 days sober. When will my kids stop irritating the shit out of me? They are 6 & 4, I stayed sober through my pregnancies and nursing but after then went back to drinking too much wine every night. I have a hard time dealing with them and I just want to escape and not deal with it. They never do things when I tell them, everything is a fight or argument. I hate it. I didn’t sober up for this!

Signed, Sober Rachel”

 

Dear Rachel,

First of all, CONGRATS ON 80 DAYS!  That’s amazing! Secondly (and hang with me here for a minute because it may not be what you want to hear) but you DID sober up for this.  You sobered up for exactly this—to be present for yourself and for them, through all this crap behavior now, through the bad and the long days but also for the GOOD. Because you are present, you’re having to feel all the hard frustrations of parenting crashing down on you. At once. And that’s intense and hard and awful — no way around it.

The good news is, you also get to be there for the hugs and the kisses and the moments of “Oh wow, is this for real happening?” good times that will come. I promise they will come. Even if it doesn’t seem like it. I have three littles, two of which have spent most of the week puking in my floor with a stomach bug, and I want to cry and pull my hair out and yell. And I do. I’m not perfect, and I argue and lose my cool, but you know what? I’m here. I’m present and able to keep them from killing themselves or each other and some days, it honestly feels like that’s all I do.

But then something happens, and I get a glimpse of the good, like being sober and aware and getting to watch my daughter sing “Fight Song” at a school talent show and tell me later, “I wanted to surprise you because that song makes me think of how strong you are in hard times.” I got to feel and cherish the goose bumps on my arms and tears down my cheeks that day.  I got to feel what it was to have someone PROUD of me, instead of ashamed or making excuses like, “My mom just doesn’t feel good.”

I’ve been able to show up and feel every single frustration with homework, but also feel every single hug that comes home with an improved grade on a reading test. The long sleepless nights with a fussy baby have felt soul-sucking and lonely, but being able to really feel his little hand in mine as we walk down the driveway feels nothing less than miraculous.

When I quit numbing all the pain, I realized that my life was FULL of it—frustration, pain, irritation and hell.  But I also got to see that it was full of good things too that I’d been numbing. I thought I really enjoyed my life when I was using, but when I experience those things without that haze now, I see I was only getting a fraction of the good. When I numbed the bad, I was also numbing the good.

I know that sometimes the days feel endless and like all you are doing is keeping them alive, but you know what? That’s a win, Mama. You are there. You are showing up and being there for yourself and them and that’s a miracle all on its own.

So find some things to do that feel good for you; that nurture YOU. Self-care is critical to motherhood, and recovery makes it even more so. Self care doesn’t have to be bubble baths or hot tea or pedicures, though if that feels good to you, go for it. For me, self care sometimes looks like shutting the bathroom door and eating a brownie while I hide from my kids, or taking fifteen minutes to read or have an actual phone conversation with a friend. You can’t pour from an empty cup, mama and if you’ll take care of yourself and your soul—you will find you have more to give them too. But mostly, know for sure that you are not alone. This motherhood gig is HARD. You are nothing short of a badass for rocking this in your early recovery. Find a community of other moms in recovery (we’d love to have you join our online group) and lean in—and be so proud. You’ve got this.

Much love and support,

Nicole

 

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I Am in Recovery, and I Use Marijuana

I am in recovery, and I use marijuana.

I want to place a “but” in between those two statements, because I feel like I should. I feel like I should use the word “but” because the box labeled “Recovery” I was given on the very first day I didn’t get loaded had a disclaimer on it. Someone told me recovery was when you, “just don’t use,” and practice “complete abstinence.” They told me I was “gonna die” if I got high.

I’ll admit, I needed that disclaimer in those early days, months, and years. I took those warnings and I made them mine. I repeated them, rewrote them, and etched them into my very recovering soul. Seven years later, that disclaimer has become something that has filled me with shame and guilt. Those recovery stipulations have become the things that eat at me until getting wasted seems like the only way out.

The shame and guilt I have felt since deciding to try marijuana as a recovery tool has changed me. I have become silent, sullen, and full of fear. I started hiding again. I refused to be honest with people I have learned will never turn on me. I stopped speaking out about inclusive recovery, because I was afraid if I did, I would be cast aside by the recovery community that saved my life. I internalized and perpetuated the stigma that I have always wanted to smash.

I could list the myriad of physical and mental symptoms that drove me to seek marijuana as a solution, but I won’t. I don’t have to. Not to myself, and especially not to the 12 step Billy Bob reading this, deciding my recovery doesn’t count. I am exhausted from hiding. I am exhausted by the the belief that I must justify my recovery choices.

I appreciate those in the rooms of 12 step programs who have shared wisdom and experience with me, but I do not appreciate the shame I’m asked to feel because I am on a different path then they are. I left the rooms because they no longer served me, and that is okay. I hid in shame because I was afraid of the shunning I’ve witnessed firsthand when a person gets honest about practicing non abstinence-based recovery.

Sober Mommies Congratulations You're in recovery

That is not okay. Instead of risking being shunned, I hid in the dark. The end result of isolation and shame was exactly the same, and in the process I lost myself and started to belief my voice was no longer valid. Even worse, I convinced myself that I don’t get to have voice in the recovery space.

I am not responsible for the planting of those seeds of shame and doubt. They were given to me by others who encouraged me to water and care for them. What grew was a toxic weed that smothered my own garden. I could not prune back the weeds without ripping out the taproot under the surface.

I cannot sit back anymore. My recovery, and the recovery of other people using marijuana is as valid as anyone else’s. Period. If people need to distance themselves from me because of it, so be it. I feel like that would be a perfect example of the universe doing for me what I cannot do for myself. I need your support, not your condemnation. Every recovering person deserves that. Every human being does.

My idea of a Recovery box is gone. The disclaimer has failed me. I know I’m not alone. I know this because my friends are dying trying to squeeze themselves into the imaginary  box alongside me.

It’s time for us, as a larger recovering population, to admit there is no recovery box so we all have room to breathe. I used to think that box was crafted from steel. It’s not. It’s just plain old cardboard. I’m ready to turn it into a mat I can breakdance on 1980’s style. I am ready to pop, lock and spin on the street for all to see — to be proud of my recovery path and encourage others to do the same.

Many in the audience will turn and walk away. I have to be okay with that. I’m absolutely confident that their place in the crowd will be taken by someone else who just wants to dance alongside me.

Happy New Year! I’m Going to Jail.

On September 2, 2016 I was just over eight months sober. I had been going to meetings and “working” a program but not diligently or with a sponsor, and my meeting attendance had dwindled. That day someone very important in my life told me they thought I was still drinking. The alcoholic still inside me was furious and full of resentment and decided “they think I’m drinking? Well, I might as well drink then!” And I did. I went inside and downed about a third of a large bottle of tequila (my roommates had mistakenly showed me where they kept their booze) and started making plans with someone I knew to go out to a bar. I was black out drunk by the time they arrived to pick me up. I have zero memories of the night.

The next coherent memory I have is waking up in jail, in extreme pain; multiple large cuts, 2 broken ribs, 2 black eyes, and hungover. I had no idea what happened. I asked the sheriff and he said I had been arrested for assault. I later learned that while at the bar I’d been cut off, not happy about that I decided to go behind the bar and get my own drink. The bartender was not happy about that. Somehow we ended up outside in a brawl, 3-4 people against me. I put up a fight, damaged property and God knows what else.

Everyone left, including the “friend” that I came with. I was later found by the sheriffs bloody, bruised and combative. While the sheriff tried to help me in the squad car to go to detox I spit in his face; felony assault against an officer. So instead of detox I was taken straight to jail. For the next 33 days I sat in a county jail waiting for court. Somehow, somewhere in that month I found my peace and serenity along with a stronger, deeper relationship with my higher power.

At the time of the incident I was on probation in another county so the new charge and consumption of alcohol violated that probation. On December 15, 2017 I had my final probation violation court date and have been sentenced to serve 30 days (20 with good time) in jail. I have to report tomorrow evening 1/2/17 by 7pm. Jail sucks. Sure. However it could be worse; the state prosecutor and judge initially wanted 90 days but after reviewing my progress notes from outpatient treatment, a voluntary anger management course, weekly therapy, my psychiatrist, and a letter from my sponsor the judge decided to stay 60 days and by the grace of God dropped it to 30.

Sober Mommies Happy New Year I'm Going To Jail

I’m not scared of jail; of the jails in the area the one I’ll be visiting is by far the best. (They even have real windows, coffee in the mornings, a library and gym with access everyday, 12 step meetings, church, limited lock down times and the guards aren’t total a-holes.) I have plans for my time there; I’ll have a big book and a Bible. I’m debating writing a book so I’ll be journaling and writing a lot. I’ll have my depression meds, and a couple people have said they’d visit me. But I still have my serenity. I KNOW when I’ll be released, I don’t have to visit any court rooms. Frankly, where I’m at in life circumstances right now, 20 days away from what’s going on out here will feel like a relief. Is it sad that this will be almost like a vacation for me? Time to really focus on me, my inner work, planning what to do with my future… and get to read a few books, sleep whenever I want to, and really recharge for the new year.

This is my last hoop to jump through; no more court dates or warrants to worry about. Like my therapist told me, when I leave there I get to start over; I no longer have to carry the “old Kari” crap with me. I get to build a new life. And yet somehow, some part of me is terrified. Why? I’ve been holding myself back knowing that something was going to come. I haven’t fully lived the last 16 months because I was living in fear of this outcome. I fear the unknown: I’ve never had the chance to really start over. And now I’m looking at it, 35 years old and I don’t even know where to begin! (That topic is in my list of journaling topics.)

I relapsed because I allowed someone to get into my head and judge my program and that one night changed the course of my life for years to come. I lost my career in the medical field, I didn’t see my daughter for over a year, I’m now a “violent” felon so stable housing and a job are difficult to procure, and I hurt and lost a lot of people in the wake of my addiction. Just over two months ago I learned that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sadly, that tragic information is what opened the door to our relationship again. We’re talking now and slowly rebuilding what I broke but there’s still a very long road to walk. But I am walking it one day at a time.

Tomorrow, on 1/3/18, I will have 16 grateful months sober by the grace of God. I’ve diligently worked my steps with a sponsor, found meetings that I love (2-4x a week), learned the true meaning of fellowship in the sober community while meeting countless new friends and have even picked up a new hobby — the ukulele. I have learned how to accept responsibility, how to live a healthy, HAPPY sober life and to trust the process and not let other people taking my inventory get under my skin. (As much. ?)

While I feel compelled to say “Happy New Year!” I feel like my new year’s “celebration” will come on the date of my release.

If you made it this far, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

 

 

 

This post was submitted by Kari Peterson.

10 Ways to Prepare for and Walk Through Cravings During the Holidays

I never know when my triggers will hit or when a craving will take over my day. It can be the sun shining or the rain pouring, it can be receiving good news or bad. For me, anything can be a trigger, yet the holidays can almost always guarantee thoughts intruding my mind. Whether it’s resenting my Uncle Jack as he pounds spiked eggnog, or wanting to escape awkward conversations at my husbands Christmas party. Sometimes I’m even tempted to pick up in attempt to erase that lonely feeling I can experience when I’m in a room full of people.

Whatever it may be for you, we’re bound to experience a craving. However, the beautiful thing about holiday cravings and triggers is that we KNOW they are coming. So we are able to game plan, we can be proactive and prepared. And hopefully, by being prepared, we’ll feel much more at ease.

Move a muscle, change a thought

Basically, do anything other than what you are doing at that moment. The key to getting past a craving is to keep going until it passes.

Sober Mommies 10 Ways to Prepare for and Walk Through Holiday CravingsHere are 10 Ways to Prepare for and Walk Through Cravings During the Holidays:

  1. Play the tape through. Think, what will happen if I pick up? Will I have a ton of fun, turn into this wonderful person singing lovely Christmas carols and make fantastic decisions? I know for me, there’s no way. When I play the tape through I always wake up naked somewhere in my own piss, have been under the mistletoe with someone other than my husband and I am always craving another drink to forget it all. It’s a vicious cycle
  2. Watch a movie or read a book! Do anything to get outside of your head.  Most likely,  we won’t be able to pull out a book or turn on the Netflix in the middle of a party, however, that doesn’t mean we can’t use these type of distractions to prepare our mental state before venturing out of our comfort zone.  A Piece Of Cake by Cupcake Brown is a wonderful memoir about a woman who walks through her addiction. I cannot say enough about it, it is my favorite inspiration. The documentary Happy on Netflix is also fabulous. It’s not about addiction per se, nonetheless, it’s about perspective. I promise it’ll help.
  3. Get outside. It’s science, fresh air and nature help clear the mind, it’s a natural remedy. Go outside, walk around a bit. Excuse yourself from conversing with coworkers, politely walk away from your friends drunkenly debating politics. Take in the world around you, and breathe.
  4. Reach out. Wherever we are, we most likely have access to someone who will understand us. Call a friend who supports you or post to one of the sober social media platforms (like sobermommies),  text someone you love and say hello. Get what you’re feeling off of your chest, saying it out loud takes the power away. Check out our list of resources page to find both 12step and non 12step options.
  5. Take a hot bath. Candles, music and all. I usually get bored after ten min, nonetheless I always feel better. This is another suggestion that will be best done if you’re triggered at home. However, you can also schedule out bath time prior to leaving the comfort of your own home. Before you put on your ugly Christmas sweater and curl your hair; relax in the tub for a few minutes, you deserve it.
  6. Exercise. Don’t have a gym membership? That’s okay! Don’t know how to work out alone at home? No more excuses; YouTube is the answer. YouTube has some fantastic FREE channels. From Pilates and yoga to cardio; you can find it. Some of my favorites are Blogilates, Yoga with Adriene, and Betty Rocker. Love love love them all! Workout before you leave, workout at home while triggered, and if all else fails; go for a brisk walk outside, at least you’ll be getting that fresh air.
  7. Find inspirational quotes. Sometimes I struggle putting into words how I feel or what I need to hear. Pinterest is a fantastic place to search for inspiring quotes. Create a special folder in your photos or on your Pintrest page and begin saving your favorite quotes. Then you can pull out your phone while sitting on a friends couch as people unwrap their wine bottles and shot glasses, and you can remind yourself, “I didn’t come this far to only come this far.”
  8. Color in a coloring book. The reason adult coloring books are so popular is because they really can and do help. Boredom, lack of structure and stress all add to our triggers and those come to play in the holiday season. Coloring helps combat those triggers, it can help us calm down and take the focus away from our negative thoughts. Coloring is a great relaxing method at home but there are also coloring book apps that allow you ‘color’ on your phone. Excuse yourself for five minutes and work on one while you redirect your thoughts.
  9. Put ice on your forehead. Sounds bizarre, but it isn’t. I recently sat through an educational family class for DBT and this was a suggested exercise taught to the patients. The sensation of placing the ice on your skin immediately redirects our thoughts to the sensation. This is also a useful suggestion for those struggling with thoughts of self-harm or extreme anger episodes. Again this is a fabulous suggestion for when you are triggered at home, realistically, you won’t be rubbing your forehead with ice in while conversing with your husband’s coworkers, however, you can sneak away to bathroom, run your hands under cold water or dab a wet paper towel on your frontal lobes. If its really a bad trigger, take your ice water into the bathroom and hold an ice cube while you game plan in the bathroom stall.. Do whatever you need in order to not pick up.
  10. Leave. It’s as simple as that, just leave. Have an escape plan; know how to use Uber, have the number for the local cab company or if possible, drive yourself. Do not feel committed to stay for anyone other than yourself. Politely say your goodbyes, give out hugs and well wishes and make your exit.

Remember “move a muscle change a thought.” Walk through your craving.

It will pass, I promise.