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Sometimes Everyone Needs a Time Out

Sometimes, the kindest and sanest thing you can do for yourself is to recognise that you need a time out. When you are in recovery, too much freaking out can be dangerous.

I was there recently. The more eagle eyed of you will notice that I have been absent from the site and the page for the last couple of months. It was an act of self preservation.

I had a couple of months where life seemed to be spiralling out of control. As if I was being tested.

So many things were going on at once. I was trying to process a long-buried grief. I discovered that most of my ‘flaws’ can be explained by the ADHD I wish I had been diagnosed with years ago. I was struggling to find traction in my muchloved business. All these things combined caused more stress than I could deal with. I felt dangerously unbalanced and out of control. I needed a holiday from my life. Obviously ,that wasn’t possible, but thanks to the love and support of my Sober Mommies sisters, I was able to take a break from my responsibilities here.

I’m still freewheeling through life a bit, but I am clearer now about what I am doing:

  • I have devised some strategies to get to grips with the worst of the ADHD (apps and Yoga loom large in my plan!).
  • The grief is abating as I am able to make peace with more in my past than I realised I still needed to come to terms with.
  • I am still treading water with my business, but I know who I want to help, and how I want to do it, so that is a powerful start!

And I am back in the loving arms of my Sober Mommies family. I never fully left. I was still part of the gang, still involved in the conversations when I chose to be, and still loved and supported across the Atlantic.

The writing team on this website are truly the most amazing, loving, loyal, generous and supportive group of women—I am so absolutely grateful to them for giving me the space I needed, but still showering me with virtual hugs when I reached out for them.

If you are ever in doubt as to the strength of the love and support in this commuity, please don’t. I am here to tell you that as long as you need it, it is always there for you. You will not find a more fiercely supportive group of women than the Sober Mommies. I’m proud and grateful to be not just a sober Mum (I’m British, so I’m Mum) but a member of the Sober Mommies team.

Thank you so much to my sisters for the love and patience. I am looking forward to paying that love, support and patience forward in bucketloads.

Sayonara my loves, be well.

I’m Super Stressed…and The Devil Drink is Calling

I’ve encountered some crazy hard situations since I stopped using… but this is by far the hardest time in my four and a half years of recovery. I’m still sober but I’ve thought about drinking more lately than I have in a long time.

I haven’t thought about drugs much, but man…that devil drink, tapping my shoulder.

Recently, some changes at home, in my relationship, have resulted in the need to make major changes in other parts of my life. I had to put in a transfer at work, from overnights to “mother’s hours.” I took a pay cut and have added worries about health insurance to my burdens. As well, I was enrolled in a program at a local college but my new work hours will not allow me to continue.

I’ve been super focused on trying to fix my family but it’s not working the way I’d like it to. I have done basically nothing else for the last few weeks. I’m so tired. I’m afraid of all the changes coming.

EVERYTHING IS CHANGING. I can’t stop it—I’m not going to embrace it—but I will get through this.

I want to scream and cry (boy, have I cried) and still, the hardest part is WAITING. I have to feel all my feels and sit in this shitstorm that I am partially responsible for and…look at my part.

I’m guilty and ashamed and confused. I’m righteous and angry and frustrated. Overwhelmed. Lost. Powerless in some ways and powerful in others. Hopeful and broken. I’m everything, all at once and…I’m done apologizing.

My actions will speak louder than my words. Those who want to take notice, can. I cannot guarantee any outcomes, but if I take care of my stuff, stay vigilant and get (and stay) honest…then everything will be okay. It has to be. Even if I don’t even know what okay looks like.

But I’ve survived everything that’s come my way so far. I’m still standing.

Adulting is Hard and It’s Okay to Be a Hot Mess

Why do we feel the need to always be perfect? To be “spiritual?” It’s like once we reach long-term recovery we are supposed to magically know…how to be employable, how to parent, how to budget and pay bills, how to navigate healthy relationships. Are you kidding me? It’s all I can do sometimes to show up for life never mind be awesome at it.

Others tell me that they don’t know how I do it. Somehow, I’m a superwoman. But I’m not. I don’t know either and I’m nobody’s hero. Yes, I have done some pretty great things in recovery. I am incredibly proud of the woman that I am becoming but trust me when I say that I am still a hot mess.

I am just now, at five years sober, learning how to adult. There have been times in my sobriety when I screwed up my finances. When I practiced self-seeking in all different forms. I have royally fucked up in various areas of my life–WHILE SOBER. But I didn’t relapse.

If you are currently screwing things up don’t feel like you are the only one. I’ve been there.

I break everything that I get my hands on whether it is vehicles, electronics, relationships. I am NEVER entirely organized. I have closets where you could be physically injured by the avalanche if you opened the door. I typically have clean laundry thrown all over the place. I am always running out of food because I procrastinate going to the grocery store with a toddler. I can’t seem to stay on top of my dishes for my life. There is a Christmas tree in a box in my bedroom and I have somehow lost all six pairs of my daughter’s shoes over the last two weeks. I repeatedly forgot to pay the $3 bill from a toll for so long that the registry actually took away my driver’s license until I ended up paying $500 in fees.

I have to be able to laugh at myself. I am still learning.

The pressure is even worse when I’m looking at social media. On social, everything is fantastic and it’s rare for someone to talk about the ugly parts. We don’t talk about crying in the bathtub as a newly single mom who has no idea how to pay the rent, buy food and find someone to watch your kid so you can work that overtime shift Saturday. Nobody talks about the ugly side of relationships where the father of your child is living his best life and you are alone and all of your old “friends” still love and support him and tell you how awesome he is. And if we do talk about it,  we get labeled as “crazy” or “attention seeking.” Right.

The reality is that I will never be able to compete with some of these other women or moms out there. I am not supposed to. I was not created for their life. I was created for my own. My life has been filled with all sorts of crazy and I took a left turn for a while filled with pain and chaos and tragedy. That’s okay. I am not there anymore. I am not meant to be perfect.

I fiercely believe that my purpose is to embrace the imperfections–to show others that they aren’t alone.

If you feel like you are the best you have ever been but also that you are always drowning and just need a life preserver, I get you.

Give yourself a break. Adulting is hard. Especially when you spent years with substance use disorder. You will learn and adapt and persevere. You will be okay, and your children will be okay.

It took me a lot of work to get to where I am at. It took a lot of self-care and self-love to finally have the confidence to stop caring so much about what people thought of me. I am me. Unapologetically me. Flaws and all, I think I am pretty awesome. You are too.

I Feel More Alone Sober

I am new to abstinence. I am in early recovery.

Before I began my much-needed quest for sobriety, I felt alone—isolated from my peers in their sober world. This world has no drinks; or is maybe where just one drink feels satisfying. It’s a world where people don’t desire drugs every day—all day—to numb themselves from feelings. It’s a world without social anxiety or depression; where friends are abundant, and relationships solid. It’s a place where menial day-to-day tasks are not insurmountable peaks, and days are without shame and secrets.

That was not my world.

I entered rehab with a desire to get better; to leave my world behind and join others in what appeared to be a healthier, happier world. But today, I feel more alone than ever.

Every day I am surrounded by people just like me—people struggling and working their hardest to cross over the border and live in this magical, seemingly unattainable world. But we are not the same. We have various drugs of choice, different ages, genders, backgrounds. We are people with different strengths, weaknesses, triggers, and coping mechanisms; joined together to help each other.

Yet somehow, in this room with 30 people running towards a similar goal, my loneliness is palpable. I never thought this would be easy. I also never imagined I would still feel so isolated and disconnected from everyone and everything around me.

I have begun to shed my “addict identity,” working to find a new one. I have become a resident of Middle Earth. I know that I shouldn’t turn back, but even the tiniest of baby steps forward is exasperating.

I have never been good at making friends or maintaining relationships. I sprint too hard too fast and then have no energy or desire to make it to the finish line.

Those I have managed to forge lasting relationships with, love me for exactly who I am. They support my choice to abstain, but they don’t understand what it means. They want me to join them for “Mom’s night out,” but cannot grasp how difficult it is for me to watch them drink wine while I sip water. I avoid these events. I make excuses and stay home alone…again.

I long for someone within the walls of rehab to understand this; to understand me. I want someone to call at 7 PM, when I’ve run out of strength and need a pep talk. I want that person to understand that just because we talked it out doesn’t mean I won’t need to talk about it again.

I yearn to feel less alone. I felt this way yesterday and know tomorrow I likely will, too.

I also know, by getting sober, I am doing the only thing that will take this lonely feeling away. Sobriety will give me a fighting chance for stability and self-confidence. It will enable me to climb out of middle Earth and claim a restructured, more solid identity. It will allow me to finally finish that race. And even if I come in fourth, finishing will be the only thing that matters.

I just hope, in the end, I won’t feel so alone.

This post was submitted by Anonymous.

Sometimes, It’s One Second At A Time

On May 2, 2000, I was just a little willing to let someone else hold the reigns for a bit. It marks the anniversary of the day I got sober; the day I gave up trying to run my life; the day I surrendered.

Every year I reflect on what a total mess I was that day, all of the people that have taken time, and had the patience to help me, and how much my life has changed.  This year I’m a blogger so I’m doing something different. I hope you don’t mind.  My blog is usually focused on the funny parts of my life or the dreary, but here’s a little of the in between.

On May 1, 2000, I was homeless and helpless. It was the day I attempted to take my own life because I couldn’t figure out how to live it. I was twenty-two years old, afraid of my own shadow, and had been hiding from myself for a very long time.

Drinking was never my problem. I was pretty awesome at it, actually. I never had a drinking problem. I did, however, have a wicked sober problem. Sober was a terrible place to live and I did my best to avoid it at all cost. Sober I was me, and I really hated her. I’ll be honest, I had no idea who I was. I couldn’t look in the mirror without wanting to spit at the reflection. I was fairly certain that I was the absolute worst mother in the world, and that my daughter was better off without me. She was four.

I think about those feelings today and I cannot imagine how I didn’t realize what alcohol was doing to me or my life. I was just having fun, or trying to unwind, or following others. I didn’t always plan on getting drunk, often I would just head out to have a couple.  At first, it was fun; really fun to escape and let loose… and at some point, it wasn’t.

I was running.

I have always done the best I could with what I had, I know that now, but then I felt useless. I remember referring to myself as “a waste of human flesh and oxygen.” I haven’t felt that way in a really long time, but I will never forget it. It’s the reason I got sober and it has been one of the driving forces of my recovery.

In the last thirteen years I’ve probably made every mistake there was to make. I’ve made terrible choices, sober. I’ve dated the wrong men, many many times, sober. I’ve made some great friends, but also pushed people away, sober. Getting sober didn’t change me immediately. It has been a long, amazing journey. I still make mistakes, lots of them…all the time… but I don’t drink.

Over these years I have been given the rare opportunity to meet and get to know myself. I have had many teachers and have gotten glimpses of the good, bad, and ugly within me through the reflections I have seen in other women. There have been so many women that I have looked up to, loved, and shared amazingly difficult times with. Sobriety gave me the opportunity to meet these wonderful people, and they let me borrow their peace and serenity until I earned my own. There have been great times. There have also been horrific times. These women stood by me through the ups and downs and reminded me that I was worth it when I forgot. They didn’t help me by being perfect at this life thing, they helped me by making mistakes and sharing their lessons. This I am eternally grateful for.

On this day I think about the people I started this journey with or those I have met along the way that didn’t make it. I think of them often, but on this day, I focus on the impact that meeting and knowing them has had on my life and my sobriety.

I often wonder what I would have thought about the woman I am today back then. I don’t think I would have liked myself, but for all the right reasons. I have become one of those women that can extend peace and serenity to those in need until they find their own. If you had told me this would happen, I would not have believed it. It’s hard to believe even now.

What is not hard to believe is that if I can do this, anyone can. One of my counselors in detox said I should have worn a t-shirt that said “I dare you to get me sober,” and yet, here I am. So, if you are struggling with alcohol, or drugs, or whatever, please don’t give up. If you’re not ready to get help, that’s okay. Just know that it’s available to you when you are ready. There are a ton of 12-step and non 12-step groups, books, prayers, etc. to choose from and they’re coming up with more every day. Our Resources Page has all sorts of helpful links…you know, just in case.

I am so grateful today for my life, and the opportunity to be present for my children. I am proud of the woman I have become, and the reflection that I get in the mirror today. That four-year-old is now seventeen, and although there are very few things we can agree on these days, we’re both pretty stoked that I’m sober.

This post originally appeared on Sober Mommies on July 29, 2016.

original photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren via photopin cc