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I’m Not Perfect. I Still Get Angry, Sober.

It’s easy to get angry about the injustice and senseless pain going on in our world today. At people who can’t drive or chew with their mouths closed. You know, the everyday shit that matters. As a mom, it’s even easier to get angry. I can only clean up so much spilled milk and thrown pasta, listen to so much fighting and whining, plead for them to get their shoes on, and wipe bent-over asses so many times before tensions rise. Throw in anxiety, depression, and little-to-no aerobic activity, and you get me.

I am a hot mess; a sober hot mess—and that makes a big difference.

Back in my drinking days, I was quite saucy. Some would say I was a raging bitch even though they wanted me to have their backs. My fuse was short, and I was drunk all the time. All I did was rage. Fighting and shit-talking was my forte, and adrenaline was my relied upon companion. When I got sober, I worked really hard to figure out why I was so mad. I didn’t have a lot of the coping skills I should have developed in my late teens and early twenties, because I was busy getting shitfaced. So, I focused on my anger, and I grew up a little bit.

Last Sunday was a struggle. I was at a football game and tensions were high because we were losing. I tried to go back to my seat during a play, ignoring basic sporting etiquette, and while I tried to move through, the season ticket holder we’ve been sitting next to for years pushed me toward my seat and out of his line of view. I suddenly felt that familiar feeling come over me, and rage began to boil. I sat on it for about 20 minutes; trying to rationalize and talk myself through it. I passed by him again to go get some food and with my hands up I yelled, “Don’t touch me!” (my first immature response).

After we returned to our seats, the guy came over and started telling my husband I was mad. They seemed to be discussing the situation like grown adults, and it was weird. Had I let it go, it would have been settled, but when I tried to join the conversation he didn’t acknowledge me. I told him he “pushed” me, and he called it a “nudge.” I told him I didn’t appreciate it, and he told me I shouldn’t have returned to my seat during a play. I didn’t feel like he was getting it! He was attempting to minimize and justify his action. I lost it and said, “If you ever touch me again, you’re gonna be missing some fucking teeth. Get the hell away from us.” He looked shocked and confused while he stood, so I reiterated, and everyone around us told him to just go back to his seat—probably to shut me up.

My husband wasn’t happy with me. I wasn’t happy with me.

I had lost control, and I was embarrassed and pissed. I don’t think I would have done that had my kids been there, but who knows? It was absolutely unacceptable for that man to put his hands on me, let alone push me, but my reaction was also unacceptable to me.

After this incident, I did a lot of soul searching. I tried to determine if I really am a horrible person—a terrible mom (even though my kids weren’t even there). It seemed like suddenly my sense of pride—of self—was crumbling, and I had to reevaluate who I was (I’m pretty intense).

At this point, I’m done trying to figure it out. At least that guy knows not to mess with the crazy bitch a few seats down. I could try apologizing at the next game…maybe. We’ll see how it goes. I’m okay now, and I know losing my temper doesn’t mean I’m not an amazing mother. I’m not mad about that dude anymore or about how I reacted. It’s over. It is what it is, and I can only try to do better next time. I’m not perfect. While I do not consider myself an angry person anymore, clearly I haven’t lost the streak and my coping skills need further development.

I think it is so important for us to share our stories of survival because it makes addiction human and real; and easier to overcome. I was honored to share my story in the book, Hearts and Scars: 10 Human Stories of Addiction. Please check it out and consider sharing your story in whatever way you feel comfortable. I won’t get mad if you keep quiet, but I promise it feels amazing to let it out.

Here’s to all the sober mommies out there—let’s keep growing and getting better, but also understand that we are amazing just as we are.

Sober Mommies I'm Not Perfect Chrystal Comley

This post was submitted by Chrystal Comley.

She blogs about her sobriety on her blog Sober Chrystal.

Most days I feel grateful for all that recovery has given me. On days like this, I feel sad for all that addiction took away.

On Days Like This, I Feel Sad

As an addict, I must learn to deal with my emotions in healthier ways. The emotional struggle of the day is guilt. I should feel happy and complete sitting here, feeding my six-month-old breakfast; watching her play between bites – all gooey from the banana bites that haven’t quite made it into her mouth. This moment should fill me with joy, and yet I can’t shake an overwhelming feeling of guilt.

I also have a handsome, fun-loving, four-year-old. Today he too is enjoying our day together, eating dry cereal and running to see what his sister and I are up to every few minutes. He is so happy.

I should just be enjoying this beautiful spring morning at home with my babies, but I cannot.

I see their happy faces, and I know in my heart I am a good mother today. My children are healthy and beautiful, and a huge part of my recovery. But the guilt is always there.

When my son was my daughter’s age, my attention was split between him and my addiction. My addiction consumed nearly the entire day. If I wasn’t chasing, I was pill sick. If I wasn’t pill sick, I was feeling “good.” It was only then, after I got my “fix,” that I could parent properly. Only then did I have the energy and ability to focus on and enjoy little moments like gooey banana faces.

He was denied my full attention for so long. I was there and he had all he needed, but not much more. So, when I look back and remember those little moments—the ones he will never remember—those moments I more or less sucked at, I feel guilty.

I feel guilty because my addiction took the enjoyment out of parenting my first child.

I feel guilty because I feel like even though I have it together, it took too long for me to get to this place. I feel guilty for taking the time to enjoy my youngest child, and give her the attention I couldn’t give my son. No matter how much I take the time to savor every single delicious moment with my two amazing gifts from God, I can never get back those early days of my son’s life.

He will never remember our life during my active addiction, but I will never forget. Most days I’m happy with my life and recovery, but on days like today I feel sad.

In recovery, I have learned to deal and cope with these emotions. Even as I sit here wallowing in guilt, thinking of the bad parenting choices I made during my active addiction, I feel a glimmer of happiness because today I can enjoy this time with my kids.

Today I can be here with and for them in every way. When I think of how lucky I truly am, my guilt fades into the background and I remember—I cannot change the past, but I can offer one hell of a future.

I am able to be a good mom today, and make wonderful new memories.

Just for today, I can push my guilt aside and enjoy the little things. Just for today, I am going to be the best mother I can be for both of my babies. Just for today, guilt will not consume me. I control my emotions, not the other way around!

Because these happy, healthy babies need a healthy, happy mommy.

This post was submitted by Carla.

Tricks to Make Your Child’s Hair Care Less Stressful

This post contains affiliate links.

As my oldest daughter entered toddlerhood, she developed a head of glorious adorable curls. Shortly after my eldest turned three, we had another daughter with completely a completely different hair type, hers even harder to handle. And so began the power struggle to brush and style the hair of a child who IS NOT HAVING IT. They both screamed and wriggled and ran flying from the room. I chased, bribed, and did just about everything I could to do wrangle them. Then I remembered that I have an online village of folks who have already gone through this, professionals who are eager to share their knowledge, and Amazon reviews to help me. So, I asked and posted and scrolled. These are the methods, products, and tools that work for us.

Satin pillowcases

Satin helps to minimize knots and mats from tossing and turning at night. They don’t absorb that well, so use a cotton one underneath the satin. These satin pillowcases are also great for minimizing hair loss. I’ve gone from finding clumps of hair to just strands, just from switching to satin.

The Wet Brush

If you child has straight or wavy hair, the Wet Brush is king. For curls or waves, go with the Denman brush. For curls, you may need to remove some bristles, but you can say goodbye to bushy hair.

Start with Wet Hair

Always brush wet/damp hair. Dollar store spray bottles are fine, but I tend to go through them quickly. This style from Flairsol is great, especially when you have a child with lots of hair.

Skip/minimize shampoo

We do a conditioner “wash” most days. My youngest gets shampoo every other wash, my oldest every third. Finger detangle after the shower with a good sulfate-free conditioner like this Moroccan Argan Oil Conditioner.

Microfiber towels or an Old T-shirt

Instead of the classic towel turban, get some microfiber towels, or just use an old t-shirt. This lets the hair “breathe.” Just wrap and sit—no rubbing. The hair will be dry in no time.

Detangler spray

Detangler is your friend. You can buy it or make it yourself. Something with tea tree oil as a lice preventative like this all-natural spray from Ladibugs is always a good idea.

You can also make your own! I make my detangler myself because we go through so damn much of it. Water, a generous squirt your conditioner of choice, a few drops of tea tree oil, and a few drops of argan oil for curly/dry hair.

I’m happy to report that while my girls don’t LOVE doing their hair, I have successfully made our hair care routine as easy as possible. Fighting with children about hair care is exhausting, especially first thing in the morning. These tricks, tips, and products can help make the child hair care routine a little easier on everyone. More than anything, I offer my empathy to the parents dreading this part of the morning routine. Good luck!

Alcoholism Doesn’t Care How Long I’ve Been Sober

I can’t remember exactly when I started feeling like I wasn’t enough. From an early age, I felt “different” from my friends, and afraid they would notice. I did things I didn’t want to do to “fit in,” and be “normal.”  Much of the time it was out of the need to feel comfortable in my own skin. I have rarely just allowed myself to be who I am without fear of rejection.

There were years that I didn’t like who I was and was certain no one else would either. I was the girl in high school that had a friend in every group, and shifted from one to the other depending on my mood or what day it was.

I learned, pretty early on, how to be a chameleon and blend in.

When I found alcohol, it got easier to hide the fact that I was a scared little girl trapped inside the body of an adolescent, and then adult. Alcohol gave me the power I had been searching for my whole life. It allowed me to be whomever you wanted, and act accordingly. If I stepped out of this role and disappointed you, I could always blame the vodka. I was totally convinced that vodka made me violent. It wasn’t until I got sober that I realized it was deep-seated anger that made me act that way. As I child I learned that being outwardly angry was dangerous, so I stuffed it away…until I got drunk.

When I got drunk, I told you what I really thought. I had no filter, and used that state to berate and beat you with my words, and often my fists. It was an escape for me that came with what I thought was a “Get out of jail FREE” card. I lost count of how many times I used a drunken night to excuse inexcusable behavior. “Sorry, I was drunk” was about as close to a genuine amend that I could make back then, and I remember feeling totally victimized if my “apology” wasn’t immediately accepted.

After years of sobriety, when it came time to make official amends to those I had harmed with my words and actions, I had to accept full responsibility for all of my half-hearted requests for forgiveness.

I had to admit my tendency towards manipulation wherever and whenever it suited me. I had to admit my selfishness, and tell the truth.

Most of the people I sincerely apologized to accepted it graciously. When asked what could be done to rectify the situation, most just asked that I continue my journey of recovery so that the offenses would not repeat.

“Old behavior,” was replaced with healthy boundaries and awareness. I continued to take the action necessary to be rid of the selfishness and dishonesty that promoted my need for instant gratification and control. Then I hit a bump.

Something happened to me that provoked a fear I had never known. When I tried applying the tools I had learned—the ones that helped in the past—they didn’t work. Depression grabbed me by the throat and refused to let go. When I reached out to the people in my life that had taught me how to use these tools, I was repeatedly directed back to them. I got questions like, “What are you NOT doing?” and I couldn’t answer. I was doing everything in my power, and still feeling lost and afraid.

I began to feel abandoned by the people who once saved my life, and I started making excuses not to see them.

They were too busy, or didn’t want to hear about my problems anymore. I knew what they were going to say if I called, so I didn’t. I created rifts in many relationships, and then used them as an excuse to end them. I started to isolate myself.

I was still practicing most of the principles I had learned, but started to rely on my ability to pick and choose which should apply. “Old behavior” started to creep back in as possible solutions to the way I was feeling.

One night I went out with two of my high school friends and a woman I work with. One of them had a night of bar hopping planned. I didn’t say no. I’d been sober for fourteen years, and it wasn’t my first time in a bar. I was sure I could handle it.

I was asked to buy a rum and coke and hold it while my friend went to the bathroom. I did.

I had no intention of drinking it, but the resentments started to brew. Why had someone asked me to buy a drink knowing that I’m sober? Why had I not responded the way I should have? What happened to self-awareness and ability to set boundaries? What was I doing at a bar in the state I was in?

I felt so uncomfortable, but I couldn’t leave. I had agreed to be the designated driver. I manipulated myself into staying.

I didn’t drink, but I got mean. I started acting just like the girl I was at the bar fifteen years ago. I embarrassed my good friend because I was lashing out and like a selfish jerk. Even the next day, I justified my behavior.

Days later, I felt awful. I did what I knew I had to. I processed my part of the whole situation, and was completely honest with myself about what I had done wrong. I called my friend and made proper amends. Then I got my ass back in gear.

I know that I will never be cured of alcoholism. I have recovered, but I am not immune to relapse if I don’t remain vigilant in my recovery. I hadn’t been doing the things that I know work.

I had shut myself off from connections with people who remind me that it’s a day at a time. I got cocky.

This was an eye opening experience and one that I hope to never repeat. I put myself in danger, and my friends in a terribly awkward position that night. I am not proud of my behavior, but I am proud that I was able to recognize my need for help. I still need help no matter how long I’ve been sober. I hate being messy and not having my shit together. I dislike having to call people and feel like I’m whining about problems, especially if I’ve created them. I despise the fact that I have to rely on other people. It’s true, I do, but you know what I hate more than any of those things?

Being drunk.

original photo credit: christian.senger via photopin cc

Sober Mommies Eight 12 Step Slogans Useful in Any Recovery Path

Eight 12-Step Slogans Useful to Any Recovery Path

Whether your recovery includes a 12-step program, Smart Recovery, Harm Reduction, Moderation or another path, here are some helpful slogans to help anyone gain perspective when struggling!

“Addiction doesn’t discriminate.”

Society has stigmatized substance-use disorder and painted a common picture of “addicts” and “alcoholics.” This picture commonly includes a brown paper bag, unsightly tattoos, and a negative attitude. But the way you look, feel, and behave will not make anyone less likely to suffer from addiction. We are mothers and daughters, friends and wives. We are teachers, managers, doctors and nurses.
You can wear a business suit or yoga pants; addiction doesn’t care.

“Look For The Similarities, Rather Than The Differences”

I love this one. Being so involved in the online sober community, I’ve begun to realize different things work for different people. There isn’t just one way to find or maintain recovery. Furthermore, there isn’t just one way to live. People in recovery practice different cultures have different experiences, and different ways of life. That is beautiful. I can find value and inspiration from all different backgrounds. Although I may not agree or relate with everything, I can learn something from everyone.

Find the similarities, move past the differences and celebrate the victories, together.

“Easy does it”

I’ve been sober for four years, and I still practice this in my daily life. Easy does it means many different things to me. I actively aim to take it easy on myself, but I’m my toughest critic. Easy does it. My life doesn’t need to be complicated. On days when I’m trying to be everything; a mom, a wife, a student, a friend, and it feels like I just may explode or pass out, I remind myself. Easy does it.

“(H-O-W recovery works) Honesty, Open-mindedness and Willingness”

We can be honest with ourselves about our problem, come to terms with it, and make the decision to change. We can be open-minded to suggestions. If meetings aren’t for you, there are so many other resources. Try to remain open-minded and take suggestions from like-minded people. We must be willing to change, put in the necessary footwork, and look at ourselves in and honest light.

I try to implement HOW into my life on a daily basis. I try to be honest about my feelings and expectations. I try to remain open-minded, and I am almost always willing to hear people out, take a break, and help when I am needed. By exercising HOW, I’ve been led down some pretty beautiful paths.

“(H.A.L.T.) Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired”

Whether you’re feeling like you want to do that thing you know isn’t the best for you, overly agitated, or wanting to isolate, it’s always a good idea to HALT. Stop, and ask yourself; Have I eaten today? Could I be angry about something completely unrelated? Am I feeling alone, or do I need support? Did I get enough sleep?

These are feeling we ALL experience. They are completely normal and (more importantly) fixable! I don’t want to throw away all I have worked for just because I need a snack and a nap! I’ve learned to breathe. I’ve learned to take a moment to assess my emotional state; I decide what I can change about my environment, and do just that.

This cliché acronym may not prevent relapse, a breakdown, or brighten every dark moment, but it’s a useful place to start.

“Progress Not Perfection”

One of my absolute faves. Such an uncomplicated thought. A simple reminder to be kind to myself. A way to lessen that the ominous pressure we’re feeling. I personally use this phrase in all aspects of my life; not just in recovery. In motherhood, school, fitness, working on my credit score, housework…it’s all about progress not perfection.

“Just For Today” and “One Day At A Time”

I can do anything for one day. I can deal with my cranky toddler for one day. When I’m exhausted, I can make it through one day. When I hate myself, when I’m battling a head full of self-loathing, I can make it through one day without self-harm. And, if I desperately want to pick up I can absolutely go one day without doing so. After I make it through that one day, I can go to bed and wake up to a new day. Reset my perspective. One day at a time we can continue to fight.

“Let Go And Let God”

I’ve never been a fan of this slogan because the “God”  part makes me uncomfortable. Although I’m not enthusiastic about the words, I do appreciate the idea itself. My ‘god’ is the Universe, and whatever ‘god’ we believe in, even if it’s none at all, we can let go. We can let go of our negative thoughts and we can let go of our failed expectations. We can release fear of the unknown and choose to trust in the universe, trust in god, or just trust in ourselves, that it’s all going to be alright.