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Sober Mommies Ask A Sober Mom Posts

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

“I’m 80 days sober. When will my kids stop irritating the shit out of me? They are six and four, 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 goosebumps 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

Have a question for a sober mom? CLICK HERE and ask away!

Saying Goodbye to Alcohol and Toxic Relationships

Alcohol was my friend for a very long time. When I was in outpatient rehab, I had to write a letter to my “friend,” explaining why we were no longer compatible. At the time, I was placating. I had no intentions of saying good-bye forever, I just wanted to be in the good graces of my loved ones again.

It didn’t matter how many times my “friend” alcohol hurt me—I always went back. When I wrote the letter, I thought we’d reunite someday. As I read the letter today, I’m baffled at how much I did know back then but was still unwilling to see it as my actual truth. It took me five years as a dry drunk to realize how sick I was. It took another year after that to see how my sickness was affecting my life, even though I wasn’t drinking.

Fast forward to today and I’m hungover. Almost eight solid years without alcohol and I’m hungover.

I’m not physically hungover—alcohol and I are still former friends. Today, I’m suffering from an emotional hangover.  This past weekend, I said good-bye to my “ride or die” bestie of 20 years. I’m grieving. I’m grieving the loss of my friend I thought would be in my life ’til death do us part, but as it turns out, was just another toxic “friend” ship.

I’m angry. I’m angry that I didn’t end the friendship sooner. I’m angry I didn’t get the closure I needed sooner. I’m angry that she seems to have moved on quicker than me. I’m angry because I thought I was over it but I’m crying again.

This feels all too familiar. It feels like I’m right back to where I was eight years ago when alcohol was removed from my life against my will.  I fought for my right to drink even when I knew it wasn’t good for me. Grieving the loss of a huge part of my identity as the party girl.

Back then, I was angry at everyone around me because they thought I was an alcoholic. I was angry at myself because down deep I knew I was too. I kept asking myself “how could you do this again!?!?”

I cannot tell you how many times my bestie and I “broke up” since I quit drinking.

We’d have a falling out, we’d stop talking, one of us would reach out and then before we knew it, we were “back together,” and healthier than ever. Until the next shoe dropped and we weren’t speaking again. The cycle continued through our entire toxic relationship.

Not unlike my relationship with alcohol. Alcohol was the friend I needed when I felt like no one else understood. Alcohol comforted me when it seemed that no one else cared. Alcohol also turned on me when I consumed too much, which, at the end of my drinking career, was all the time.

Comparing the two relationships, I see one difference that is worth mentioning because it shows my growth. Unlike the end of my drinking career, the demise of my friendship with my former bestie was in my control. I chose not to get closure until nine months after I knew it was over. That was my choice.

That’s the only difference. The rest is the same.

It’s all good though. I’m free now and so is she.

We’re better off without the other. In our last exchange, my ex-bestie told me that her journey is raining gifts and that she can’t look back on areas of life with anger. For once in our lives, our journeys have aligned, as I too am experiencing a lot of joy amongst a lot of sadness going on around me. I wanted to say, “Me tooooo! Tell me everything!” but I didn’t. I just “loved” her message and that was that. Then I cried.

I’m okay. I’ve been okay and I will continue to be okay. Life goes on and I have to say, I am loving life today. It’s not without its struggles but as long as I keep the alcohol and toxic people out of my life, I’m ALWAYS going to be okay.

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Sober Mommies I Don't Look Like A Meth Addict #motherhood #addiction #meth

I Don’t Look Like A Meth Addict

I am the mother of an amazing eight-year-old girl. I am a fabulous dressing, master’s degree holding, funny divorcée.

I don’t look like a meth addict.

I got sober three years before my daughter was born, and remained that way for over ten years. My daughter had never seen me drink, she had never seen me use, and she had never had the chaos of my addiction thrust upon her.

Until a year ago when I relapsed on meth during my divorce.

I told myself I needed it because I have ADD. I told no one and used alone, which made it even easier for me to lie to myself and pretend like it wasn’t happening. Until I met an amazing man who ultimately discovered my disgusting secret, and everything exploded.

I smoke meth. I get high at home and at work. I get high before I go to the grocery store, the mall, the pool and the beach. I’m high in the Catholic school parking lot. My daughter is heartbroken, and I am devastated – at least I think I am. I know I should be; and I definitely will be, as soon as the numbness this drug creates wears off again.

I’m supposed to check in to detox in an hour, and I’ve been chasing my tail all night trying to get ready. I’ve accomplished nothing. My house is disgusting. I haven’t paid rent, and I’m pretty sure I smell like shit. The night before I went to a mediation meeting, and basically lost my daughter until the end of the school year; at which point we will discuss my reintegration into her life…

if I’ve stayed sober.

This feels like the twilight zone. I can’t believe this is my life.

But then again, it almost seems more familiar than pretending to fit in as a soccer mom. I never understood who I was in the mom world. I couldn’t reconcile being in recovery and attending meetings with being the mother of a child in a private Catholic school. I used to attend a meeting that was held at her school. One night I had a meeting for a fundraiser at her school on the same night that the meeting was held. I stood in the parking lot with all of the other moms while they looked over at my fellow addicts, my friends, who, smoking in a little huddle and said things like,

“Oh my God… look at those people.”

“Well you know, they allow those groups, like those alcoholics and stuff to meet here at night.”

I didn’t defend my friends, and I never went to another meeting again. And that brought me to where I am now—in Hell.

I’m going back to sobriety today. I have hope because I stayed sober before, when my actions didn’t affect very many people, and I really had nothing to lose.

Now I have a daughter who I am inflicting the same kind of pain on that my alcoholic mother did me. That is unacceptable to me.

While I have hope, I’m also terrified. I have seen so many beautiful, willing, well-intentioned mothers and fathers do the one thing they swore they would never do. They abandoned their children because they couldn’t stop using. All I can do is pray and surrender and hope that I can get truly honest with myself this time.

That’s all I can do…

This post was submitted Anonymously and was originally printed in February 2015.

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5 Things That Happen When You Begin to Love Yourself

I used to wake up most mornings feeling like I’d spent the day before inside of a Looney Toons short—where anvils and pianos dropped on my head, I fell to the bottom of several canyons, and sticks of dynamite kept exploding in my face. What I’d actually been doing the day before was nothing so glamorous.

I was drinking—and even though it made me feel beat up in the worst way—for some reason I kept doing it over and over and over again.

This behavior did not inspire tons of self-love. Why would any person with even the slightest hint of intelligence keep repeating this ridiculous pattern, especially when the solution was so obvious?

My mental state echoed my physical state. I was compounding the damage alcohol was doing by constantly berating myself for using it. It was not a great place to be.

I quit drinking for good a little over two years ago. Not long after that, I started paying attention to how I was talking to myself. I began shifting statements like why are you so stupid and you’re a terrible mother to I’m doing fine and getting better all the time.

Eventually, I started to really believe myself. It wasn’t always easy, but my sobriety opened the way for self-love, which opened me up to a host of amazing things. Here are five:

You get happier

Having someone inside your head who’s constantly telling you what a jackass you are is a pretty big downer. That would make anyone sad. On the flip side, when that voice is complimentary, you’re lighter and more free. You smile more. And when you let go of all that internal weight, you also make space to have more fun.

You can truly care for others

Yeah, we’ve all heard the cliche to put on your own mask first in case of a loss of cabin pressure. I hope to god that none of us have ever been in an actual airplane emergency, but I can tell you a couple situations we have been in, though:

  • We’re so busy getting things together for everyone else—lunches and laundry, homework help and dish duty—that we skip eating because we don’t have time.
  • We’re so constantly on the run — doing and driving, picking up and putting away—that we don’t stop until way too late and we don’t get enough sleep.

The results? We’re hangry and cranky and honestly not very nice, especially to those people we claim to love the most. When we love ourselves enough to eat, sleep, and care for ourselves in other basic ways—and understand that we deserve those things—we are better equipped to care for others.

You gain confidence

Loving yourself means giving yourself credit for the things you’re good at. And when you believe you can do things well, you’re inspired to start doing more. Bonus: confidence is sexy.

You’re not as defensive

Loving yourself also means being more understanding about your past, and more patient with yourself about mistakes you make in the present. You learn to accept all of it as part of being you, and part of being human. (Humanity is seriously one of the most flawed conditions, isn’t it?) When you reach that point, when someone brings up something you know is a weakness of yours, you’re less likely to let it trigger you. You’re less sensitive and better able to either accept it as feedback or ignore it. This feels magical.

You connect better with others

How we treat other people is a direct reflection of how we treat ourselves. It follows then, that the kinder you can be to yourself, the kinder you will be toward others and the kinder they will be to you. The more empathy you have with yourself, the more empathy you will have for everyone else.

These results are awesome, of course, but how do you actually start loving yourself?

Get started by forgiving yourself. As sober moms, we carry tons of guilt and shame from not being there for our kids in the way they deserved when we weren’t sober. It will take some work, and maybe some therapy, but it’s crucial to work through it and let your past be in your past. Brene Brown’s book, I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame, is an excellent resource.

A few other helpful actions:

  • Notice your negative self-talk, and start correcting it.
  • Make a daily gratitude list.
  • List your daily accomplishments, even if it’s just getting out of bed and making a sandwich.
  • List the people who love you and depend on you, and understand that these are the people who deserve you at your best. Reread this list whenever you feel discouraged to strengthen your resolve to love yourself for them.

Learning to love yourself takes time, but it’s worth every step.

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My Fear Is Stronger Than My Faith

I always had an idea that faith meant knowing that what I wanted to happen would happen. If I just tried hard enough, manipulated and controlled enough, if I asked God to “see it my way,” then I would have what I wanted. I could make anything happen if I just had faith.

I confused having faith with “running the show.”

I create stories in my mind where I am the main character, and others are mine to control. I write their lines out and dictate their emotions, thoughts, feelings, and actions. I decide who and what they are. I do this before I even know who the players will be. I create situations, imagine how they feel about me, and what will happen before the end of the story. There is always an ending. It doesn’t matter whether these people know that they are playing a part in the story because it’s never about them; not who they REALLY are.

It’s always about who I believe they are, and when they don’t play their role, when they don’t say their lines, when they don’t follow the script I have written, I get to play my role…victim.

It occurs to me, as I agonize for the bazillionth time, over some guy that isn’t playing his part, that I’m sick of this story. You know the one. Girl meets boy. He is obviously “the one,” and she has NEVER had a connection like this with any other boy. It is definitely, “meant to be,” blah – blah – blah. But really, it’s just same shit, different guy. I seek men that are as emotionally bankrupt and unavailable as I am…and lonely. I convince myself that he is going to meet my unrealistic expectations, because he’s different.

Maybe he plays along for a while because I am a FANTASTIC actress and manipulator, but inevitably at some point, he doesn’t want to play anymore. Here’s where I get to really practice my manipulation skills, and perfect the victim role. Even though the story ALWAYS ends the same, I convince myself that this guy is different. Without fail, I have “faith” that I can make him want me. He WILL stay with me, he WILL love me desperately. The problem is, the main character is always the same. The story never changes because I haven’t.

Today I am reminded that I don’t even need a drink to act like the alcoholic I am.

People think that this disease is just about fighting a drink, but that’s just not true. We fight ourselves.

We fight our habits, our thoughts, our feelings, our selfish self-centeredness, our obsessive thoughts, our ego, our need to control, and our stories we write about how things “should” be.

We fight against faith.

Faith means to let go, and live life without a plan. I have to face the fact that I don’t know who I am without my stories. If I’m not planning my life and yours around what I want and need, what the fuck else am I going to do? It doesn’t even matter that NO ONE ever follows my script, and these stories NEVER end up the way I hope they will. I write them anyway because I don’t know what else to do. But then that’s just bullshit because I do know what to do.

Real faith means freeing ourselves from concern, right? Believing that no matter what, things will work out. So what if I decide, right now, to free myself from concern? What if, instead of creating stories, I create a real life worth living for myself and my daughter?

What if I just have faith?

original photo credit: ValetheKid via photopin cc

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