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I Had a Miscarriage in Recovery and I Am Not Okay

I had a miscarriage. I was pregnant and then I wasn’t; just like that. We swore we didn’t want any more kids, and then life seemed to fall into place. We thought about the possibility when the time was right. We weren’t trying exactly, but there I was peeing on a stick and a getting a definite positive sign.

What the fuck were we thinking??? Now is not the time for this!

I was worried, but it felt right. I wanted to hold our news for a while. I just wanted to feel happy and excited, without all the negativity I knew we would get from others. We told a select group of close friends and left it at that.

I made my first OB appointment for eight weeks. The doctor kept asking if I had my dates right. Was I sure? He wanted to do blood work and then more blood work, and schedule another ultrasound. He said we would “see what things look like in a week,” and my head started to spin with what-ifs.

I convinced myself everything would be fine, but I knew in my heart it wasn’t. Monday came and went and then Tuesday came with a phone call from the doctor. He wanted me to go to the hospital for an ultrasound. The tech didn’t say a word and wouldn’t look me in the eyes. She just stared at the screen in silence.

As I got dressed, I cried. I was instructed to see my OB in the morning. I walked in and the nurse handed me a box of tissues. I knew what the doctor was going to say. He explained that I had miscarried, and informed me about my options. I opted for a D and C, because I knew waiting it out was going to kill me inside even more.

I thought I was ok. I had miscarried naturally twice before. But I wasn’t ok. I’m not ok.

I feel empty and lost. I’m struggling with the thought that I have no right to be upset. I have healthy children, and I’ve never struggled to conceive, so who am I to be upset?

For the first time in five years I really thought long in hard about breaking my sobriety. I wanted to numb all that I’m feeling and hide from it all. I didn’t, and I won’t, but everything I feel is swallowing me whole right now. The anxiety is overwhelming.

The doctor reassured me that none of this is my fault, that it happens and is more common than you think. But it feel like I must have done something wrong.

I feel so alone.

I hate feeling feelings when they’re hard and they suck, but I’m feeling and trying to process them as they come.

So there it is. I was pregnant and then I wasn’t, and damn it, it sucks.

This brave and beautiful post was submitted by Anonymous. 

This post originally appeared on Sober Mommies in September 2017.

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I Am Not A “Junkie”

There are certain words I can’t bring myself to use. They are derogatory terms that describe a person’s race, religion, sexual preference, or country of origin. They are words that would make any person with a kind heart clutch their pearls up in arms at the use of such filthy and ignorant language.

I myself have used similarly ugly words to describe myself and my friends. “Drunk” (dry or otherwise,) “junkie”, “crackhead”, “stoner”, “dope fiend”, “pill popper”, and “coke head”. These words used to easily roll off my tongue when I was using, because at first it was funny to me. “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings, drunks go to bars.” I repeated that so often I had convinced myself that my situation was funny. It wasn’t. Those words were funny to me, but there was no way I would ever have called myself what I am.

I am an addict.

Those four words were so shameful to me, but calling myself a “dope fiend” came easily. It still does sometimes. But I am not a dope fiend, no one is. I am an addict. We are addicts. There is nothing shameful about that. Last week, I heard a woman I adore who has been clean for years call herself a junkie. I was appalled. I asked her why she used that word. She told me she still feels like the junkie lurking in dark corners sometimes. I can relate to that. The disease of addiction still lurks in corners waiting for the perfect moment to jump out and rob me of everything. It still wants me to laugh at myself, before you get a chance to.

The disease of addiction wants me to refer to myself in only derogatory terms, to keep that self-hatred in the forefront of my mind, because as long as it is, my next hit, drink, pill, or snort isn’t far behind it.

So, I am gonna work really hard to not use those ugly words for a while. I am gonna work really hard to see myself the way Julie sees me, or the way my two-year-old daughter sees me. Because while calling myself an addict no longer causes me shame, it doesn’t feel right to use those other words anymore. Being clean means I don’t have to shame myself anymore, and I certainly do not want to shame another addict into secrecy with my poor choice of words.

This post originally appeared on Sober Mommies in December, 2013.

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Unpacking our Past to Face the Future

Two years and some months ago, I took my daughter to Target to buy her first backpack. It was the beginning of the summer of 2017, and she was going to a summer preschool for the next two months.

While we walked the aisles and found the perfect Anna and Elsa backpack and matching lunchbox, I told her that in two years I was going to bring her back for a new backpack for the first day of kindergarten.

What followed was a blur of heartache and darkness as we struggled to emerge from the depths of trauma, addiction, and mental illness that plagued our family. For part of that two years, I forgot to bathe her. I forgot to dress her, and she wore the same clothes for days on end. I neglected to offer her healthy foods, and what started out as a cute episode of Paw Patrol on YouTube morphed into images of terror as the videos played to her vacant eyes. Because I was there, but I wasn’t there. I wasn’t there at all.

But then the sun rose and stretched on the horizon. I found the right medications. I stayed sober. And the world started to feel like a Beatles song. The sun was here, and I was all right.

Today we walked back into that same Target, her pushing the cart and asking me to move out of her way. She was ready to push it on her own: be a big girl.

“Head toward that big pencil up there,” I said, pointing ahead to the back-to-school shopping area.

We made it with few mishaps, and as I massaged my cart-bruised knee, we picked out all the necessary items: pencils, fine-tipped Expo markers, crayons…we dropped them into the cart and headed to check out.

While the kind gentleman at the checkout scanned our items, I was bursting to tell him the news: my baby girl was going to kindergarten! She was going to school! The joy I felt at seeing the school necessities pile up in my cart was ineffable.

As we walked away, I said to her, “Remember when we came to buy you your backpack for preschool? Do you remember what I said?”

She didn’t. It doesn’t matter. I always will.

When we got home, she happily danced and spun while I pulled her old backpack—that same backpack—out of the closet. I opened it up, and we took out the miscellaneous toys and books she had packed into it when we first started playing school some months ago. And then the lump rose in my throat. And the tears flooded my eyes.

It was happening. That two years, those days of hell that stretched on infinitely, they were over. And we were here, here in this living room. She was bathed, in clean clothes, smiling. She was whole, and so was I.

As I packed away the pencils and markers… as I safely tucked in the glue sticks… I realized I was packing my little girl up as well. I was packing those baby memories, those preschool days, away for safekeeping. And I was packing up the horror too. I was smoothing out the wrinkles, giving those dark parts of both of us love and attention, knowing that in mere days I would send her off into the world. That I too would be starting a new year of school.

Will her teacher be patient with her? Will the kids take to her? Will she be kind? Will she be safe?

It was not just a backpack I packed today. It was her future. It was her past.

And it was mine too, because I may not have been there before, but I sure am now.

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He Decided I Wasn't Good Enough. I Decided He Was Right- Sober Mommies #recovery #relationships

He Said I Wasn’t Good Enough – He Was Right

I spent 23 months sober—open, determined, passionate, scared, lonely, angry, confused, and happier than I had ever been. I was changing my life, and it felt good. I was learning to love, respect, and be proud of myself.

Then I met someone.

I didn’t want to be an alcoholic anymore. I didn’t want to do the work that this disease requires to stay sane, to continue moving forward. I didn’t want to be who I was. Even though I had come so far, had achieved so much; even though I was finally becoming the woman I always hoped I would be. I found myself feeling ashamed. I had this new person in my life, and for a while, it was nice.

I felt that I finally “had” someone I felt represented how far I had come in sobriety.

It didn’t last. He didn’t want to be with an alcoholic—with someone he couldn’t 100% trust to never drink again.

He couldn’t be with someone who openly admitted less than stellar past, whose life was riddled with future amends that needed to be made. He didn’t want to be with someone without many friends, social connections, close family, and a list of crowning achievements.

In short, I wasn’t good enough for him.

How could this be? I had come so far. How was I still not good enough? I had worked my ass off to get to where I was when we met, and it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough. All the changes, all the pain, all the triumph, all the tears, the joy, the trials and tribulations that made up that 23 months, suddenly didn’t matter.

All I saw was failure. I was a failure. I still wasn’t enough.

Looking back, sober once again (because obviously I started drinking again), I can see that I not only made the conscious decision to drink, I welcomed it in like a long lost friend.

To alcohol, I am always enough.

To something that wants me dead, stripped of my dignity, my worth, and my life—I am enough.

SCREW THAT!

I am an alcoholic, whether I want to be or not. I have a past, I have hurt people, and I have regrets; lots of them. But so what? Who doesn’t? Who doesn’t have a past? Who out there hasn’t suffered? Who hasn’t hurt someone? My God, who out there isn’t a fucking human being, experiencing life and screwing it up?

This relapse was the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I got to faceplant my sorry ass right back into the horror that is my life when I drink.

Sure, I’ve got a few more amends to make as a result, and a few more embarrassing moments to recall when I really want to beat myself up, but I also have a deeper appreciation for all I had in sobriety. The woman I was, the woman I still am…she’s good enough.

She always was.

This post originally appeared on SoberMommies in February 2015.

photo credit: lonely me 🙂 via photopin

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There Are Some Memories I Don’t Want to Remember

Trigger Warning: Postpartum Psychosis

This morning my husband texted me a picture of our kids. My daughter was a touch over three, and my son eleven months. This seems commonplace, right? A simple text between husband and wife—father and mother to two beautiful babies.

But this wasn’t normal for me. Seeing that photo of my infant son, my heart raced. It broke. It clawed at reality. My throat closed up. It choked. My body struggled for air. My breasts surged, despite the fact that I stopped breastfeeding years ago.

I was caught in a tug-of-war between past and present. Images of my son—of what might have been—struggled to surface while simultaneously being crushed downward by my psyche.

I can’t think of it. I can’t remember—the countless months I wasn’t allowed to be with them, the CPS cases, the innumerable medications and therapies and inpatient stays that did nothing. I don’t want to recall the last days of my drinking. The last months, really. The days that were blacked out by substances and trauma.

I can’t think of the voices that spoke to me, the monster that controlled me. I just can’t. I have to keep it in the past.

Now, two and a half years after the day that picture was taken, I’m home. I’m safe. My son is alive and well. He came in and sat on my lap when I began typing this. I hugged him with gentle strength. I kissed his beautiful blonde head, smelled his sweet hair and looked into those limitless eyes, the eyes that have no idea what his mother went through. That hopefully never will.

He’ll never know how close his life came to ending, just weeks before that picture was taken. And for months before, and months after. Hopefully, he’ll never know what postpartum psychosis does to a previously normal brain, how it thrust me into horrors I never dreamed were possible.

I was one of the lucky ones. We were all lucky, because we made it through. We’re all alive. We’re all safe. That little baby is now a mischievous three-year-old in the kitchen getting into God knows what. And I’m here typing—not locked away somewhere—or worse.

I was not prepared for that picture today, and there’s no way to explain to my husband how it affected me.

There’s no way to explain this darkness that still lives inside my head years later, these memories, intrusive thoughts, and images. But there’s hope. There’s hope in the struggle if you know where to look. There are doctors, therapists, psychiatrists. They can help. They helped me.

Postpartum Support International saved my life, and I’m so thankful for them today. A woman named Anne reached out to me after I posted something to the group’s Facebook wall and pressed me to be assertive, to push my doctors, to find someone to take me seriously. It took time, and it took work, but it was worth it. So if you’re a mother struggling with a PMAD (Postpartum Mood/Anxiety Disorder), don’t sit quietly in your illness. Stand up. Prepare to stand among those of us who fought and won. Speak out. Get help.

And I’m here. I’m always here.

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