45 Dan Rd Workspace@45 Suite 35 Canton, MA 02120 781-247-5672

An Unfortunate Incident

I will start this by saying my hubby has been supportive of my recovery from day one, and he even stayed just as clean and sober as I did before the first 18 months I was clean. He is also not an addict or alcoholic, he’s one of those people I don’t quite get. He can leave a beer half-finished, a joint half-smoked, he hates how painkillers make him feel, and there are drugs he would NEVER touch. Alcohol doesn’t come into the house, and he gets drunk maybe four times a year.

Last Saturday was one of those times. He had a few too many sugary sweet novelty shots and a few hours after he got home he puked. Mind you, my downstairs bathroom is a remodeled closet and doesn’t fit a 6’1” 260 lb man kneeling in front of the toilet well, so the door was open. I stepped outside on the porch for a smoke and to avoid the sound. When I came back in my living room, the smell hit me like a punch in the gut. MY WHOLE LIVING ROOM REEKED OF BOOZE. Awesome. I lit a candle, he cleaned the bathroom with bleach, 5 minutes later the smell was gone. Issue handled, right?

Nope.

The next day I was awful to him, without realizing why. I was nagging, picking at him, pushing him away from me, the whole nine yards. I’m not usually that way with him, and I didn’t realize why I was doing it until he left to go run errands. Once I realized what I was doing, I felt guilt and shame to no end. I called a woman in my recovery circle, told on myself, and we discussed how I would amend my behavior. I did exactly that when he got home, and promptly stopped being so awful.

Here’s the thing that really got me. I’ve been around drinking and even the smell of pot since getting clean, but I’ve never reacted quite so, um, unsavory before. I didn’t feel or react like that at 30/60/90 days, why SHOULD I react this way at three years? That dangerous word SHOULD. Perhaps the most dangerous word I can apply to my recovery. “I SHOULD feel….” “I SHOULD think…” “I SHOULD react…” Those are dangerous thoughts for me.

I reacted and felt the way any addict or alcoholic in recovery would. I was uncomfortable and didn’t know what to do with it. So, I lashed out. I didn’t want to drink with him, and that is huge. I saw what I was doing and changed it, and the bad behavior only lasted hours, not days. I guess the huge shock in this whole experience was that it took three years to have it. I figured I was immune to being affected this way by the drinking or using of others around me.

Turns out I’m not. But today I have the choice to join them, resent them, or turn to other people in recovery that can understand exactly what that smell did to my little addict brain. I’m vigilant and aware now, and I can find gratitude that it wasn’t my head in the toilet that night, or any night since.

Haunted

Sober Mommies Haunted Guest Post 11.1 

“Each Halloween their ghosts haunt me. The fact that I was supposed to be with them in the car that night haunts me. Dawn and I were best friends. Her beautiful smile, printed in black and white on the front page of the newspaper that morning haunts me. I should have been there. I should have went through that windshield with her. I should have died along with them all and that will haunt me for the rest of my life…” ~ From Scattered Among the Leaves

Being born the day after Halloween definitely came with perks. My birthday parties were always costumed events and I always had a big bag of candy as my birthday present first thing in the morning on my special day.

Even though I had outgrown trick-or-treating by 1986, I hadn’t outgrown partying, especially when it came to my birthday. I had long since traded in candy for drugs and alcohol, like most of my friends. We had also traded in our childish costumes for more adult ones. It was a rite of passage, much like it still is today.

That particular year, Halloween fell on a Friday and my birthday on a Saturday. My parents were in a band and were booked out of town all weekend, so of course my friends and I planned a two day, drug-and-alcohol fueled event at my house. It was the consummate party place with a fully equipped bar, pool table, sound equipment and enough room to hold dozens of partygoers.

Dawn and I had made our costumes weeks before. We were going as sexy devils, of course. The invitations were sent by word of mouth, and we expected a huge turnout. All we needed was to score the party goods, which we planned to do that Thursday night.

I suppose the shock of it all has left me with gaps in my memory, but I do remember that Dawn and I had a big fight just before she took off with the others that night. There were four of them in all. All were friends of mine, but she was my best friend and, like best friends do, we often fought over trivial things. Over the last 27 years I’ve spent hours trying to remember what exactly the fight was about but I just don’t know, and that haunts me.

My last words to her haunt me, too. They were something like, “burn in hell, you bitch!”

I’ll never forget how I found out that they all died that night. It was Friday morning – Halloween day – and, as usual, I was late to school. By the time I got there everyone had already heard the news so there was an eeirie silence in the main hall, just like there had been the day after our friend, Wayde, had been hit by a drunk driver and killed earlier that year.

“Ding-dong, the witch is dead!” I heard one girl, who didn’t like Dawn, cry out gleefully amid the hushed murmurs. She said it unapologetically, over and over and over, as I stood frozen, staring in disbelief at the newspaper someone had handed me. The smiling faces of my now-dead friends were plastered on the front page along with an article that included the words “alcohol may have played a factor”. I felt the blood leave my face and a numbness overcome me. The surrealness of that moment still haunts me, too.

“I bet she went SPLAT! when they hit that tree!” the girl laughed, and was soon goaded on by her group of friends. I would have walked over and punched her right in the face if I had been able to breathe. Instead, I stood there. I just couldn’t believe it. Dawn couldn’t be dead.

How could she be dead? 

I was still standing there, alone in the main hallway, next to my locker, long after everyone had went to class. Dawn’s locker was right next to mine and I distinctly remember staring at her smiling face in black and white in my hand, then at her locker, then back at her picture.

How the fuck could she be dead? 

I’ve asked myself this a million times over the years, particularly around this time of year, and the answer always comes back the same – drugs and alcohol.

It’s the same answer to why I lost nearly all of my friends from high school and why they’re not here now, to celebrate another birthday with me.

Drugs and alcohol, in one way or another, took them all. Some were murdered but most died, like Dawn, in alcohol related accidents.

Dawn wasn’t the first, nor was she the last of my friends to die tragically and needlessly. She is just the one that haunts me more than the others. I miss my friend that was and the woman she would have become, had she survived, like I did.

That last part is what haunts me the most.

 

 

Chelle B. is the author of the upcoming book, Scattered Among the Leaves, which is based on her life story. In it, she details the struggles of having been raised by an alcoholic father and an abusive mother whose neglect left her permanently disabled. You can find her at her blog, which is also entitled Scattered Among the Leaves, where she posts excerpts from her book as well as other personal and inspirational pieces. She hopes that by sharing her amazing story of overcoming incredible odds she can somehow make a positive impact on the world.

photo credit: just.Luc via photopin cc

We Have BIG NEWS!!!

Sober Mommies Hope Is ContagiousI started blogging in December of 2012 suffering in silence thanks to a case of postpartum depression. I was having trouble leaving the house by myself, and struggling to connect with friends and family. I was afraid of how I was feeling, but more afraid to admit it to the people that know me as a “strong woman.”

With all the tools at my feet, the healthy coping skills I had learned in the twelve years I’d been sober didn’t help. I felt paralyzed by the fear and the sadness that I thought I knew better than to feel.

I felt broken and I felt alone. I felt like there wasn’t anyone that could possibly understand.

I felt like I did before I got sober.

I have always kept some sort of a journal to vent in or to simply let go of obsessive or unwanted thoughts. I thought about starting a new one. Instead, I started to blog. My posts were mostly about my kids; my frustrations in the form of humorous rants. I used my blog as an outlet for the pain, and felt encouraged with every comment someone left identifying or leaving an “lol.”

I blogged about my days so they wouldn’t run together, and sometimes just to crawl out of the sludge I was drowning in. I started reading other blogs and connecting with other bloggers. I read women like JD Bailey of Honest Mom, and Allison of Motherhood, WTF. They were writing honestly about depression, about hope, and they weren’t apologizing for any of it.

On May second, I celebrated my thirteenth sober anniversary. I wrote a post entitled, “I Got Sober Today”, and emailed both Allison and JD to work up the courage to hit “Publish.” They both encouraged me to trust myself and do whatever was going to work for ME. I closed my eyes and published the post not knowing what to expect.

The response I received was incredible. People left encouraging comments and I received an unbelievable amount of private messages and emails from women saying, “Me too!.” Some of these women were bloggers that weren’t public about their sobriety, but wanted me to know I wasn’t alone. Some of the emails were from women that were struggling with alcohol and wanted to know more about my experience. Why do some of us feel like we should hide or shy away from talking about our sobriety publicly? The stigma. My purpose became clear.

I started to come back to life. Even though I was still struggling to connect with people in real life, I was able to connect with these women online that totally understood how I was feeling. An amazing community of women began to surround me, and I began to believe in myself again.

Shortly after, the Sober Mommies blog was born and I received the amazing opportunity to work with other sober women to reach out to others all over the country. I have been so blessed and have met so many wonderful people with unique and beautiful stories of struggle and strength. Together we have started something indescribably powerful that is beyond anything I could have imagined.

It is because of these connections, that I have the confidence and faith to take yet another step. It is because of you that I am happy to announce the birth of Sober Mommies Incorporated!!  This non-profit organization will support and encourage sober mothers in the Massachusetts area, like me, that might feel alone. I have filed the paperwork to become a 5013c charitable organization and look forward to working with and providing some financial support to other non-profits serving sober mommies. I am over the moon excited and it’s taking a lot of control not to be typing all of these things with a thousand exclamation points.

Please visit us at www.sobermommies.org to learn more!!!!!! Try not to judge us at first glance, the site is still in the works. There are many more wonderful and exciting things to come!

HUGE thanks to every one of you for your support, your cyber-hugs, and your acceptance and encouragement. NONE of this could have been possible without you.

Becoming A Sober Mommy

For the first two years of my son’s life, I was an alcoholic who didn’t drink, but still allowed the disease to run my life. It was a scary time.

I never hurt my son physically, but I probably scared him a few times with my anger. Sometimes I just couldn’t handle the everyday parent stuff, and I’d freak out. I’m sure this happens to non-alcoholic parents too – those times when you are just so tired, and so emotionally worn out, that you completely lose your shit when the baby throws his food on the floor for the nineteenth time. Normal baby behavior, but while in the throes of my disease, I didn’t have the tools to handle my own stress – let alone the stress that comes with being a parent. There were more tears, screaming and breakdowns than I’d like to admit.

OnBecomingASoberMommyAtSoberMommiesdotcomI never really thought my behavior affected my son all that much. When I yelled, that obviously affected him but the other mistakes I made – those were bad for my marriage, but I didn’t see how it made me a bad mother. However, when my husband wanted a divorce and asked me if the choices I was making were worth giving up half my son’s life, I was floored. I had never thought about it like that,  of course he was right. If he divorced me (and Lord knows he had ample reasons to), I would miss out on so much of my son’s life. Sheer terror filled me at that thought.

Of course my actions affected him. How stupid and naïve was I to believe otherwise? I was given further proof that afternoon when I went to leave. We had decided I would stay at my supervisor’s house and we would share custody of Colt during the separation. My bags were packed and I was crying as I knelt to hug my son good-bye. He put his little arms around me and said, “Don’t go, mama. You stay.” I lost it at his little voice quietly telling me to stay. He knew something was different – he had never told me to stay when I was saying good-bye at daycare.

Those words haunt me. But, in the end, he got his way. I stayed, and I worked hard, and fought for our family. I opened the old wounds, cleaned them out and let them bleed freely, so that instead of a nasty, moldering old scab, I now have a scar. I confronted my past, took responsibility for my behaviors and made amends to my loved ones – including my son.

I make daily amends  to my son. These days, there is less yelling. When I feel my temper start to rise, I spot-check my feelings to find the real cause. I don’t take my emotions out on him anymore. If I do have an outburst, I apologize and explain how even though anger is ok, I shouldn’t have yelled. We spend real, quality time together, instead of just inhabiting the same space at the same time. Being his mommy is more important than any job I could ever have. I accept his unconditional love, because I finally feel like I am worthy of it. The joy I feel as a truly sober mommy is indescribable.

Beauty In The Breakdown

I got sober when my daughter was four. Truth be told, I hadn’t seen her in months before that. It became clear when she was three and a half, (through an event that I may share later), that I could not pull off being a full-time mommy and drink the way that I wanted to. The problem with that scenario is that drinking always won no matter what it was up against. Alcohol was my “drug of no choice”. It told me when to get up, when and where to go to sleep, who to sleep with, who my friends should and shouldn’t be, and where I should hang out. I realize that many of you have a different story; a story of “functional” alcoholism, but that is definitely not mine. I chose alcohol over my family, most of my friends, and before any semblance of a “normal” life.

Sober Mommies Beauty In The Wreckage

When I got sober, manipulation was one of the only life skills I had. I knew how to suck the life out of people and force them to feel sorry for me. Stellar life skills, I know, but somewhere they had become survival skills and were the only way I could relate to the world. They worked for a long time, and then one day they just didn’t. It’s possible the guilt had risen in my chest, perhaps I was just exhausted by “the game”, or maybe I just missed “normal” life. I don’t know what took me to my emotional bottom, but I’m glad it did.

I’m grateful that one day I broke into a bazillion pieces on the sheet-less mattress I’d been sleeping on. I’m grateful that when I woke up that day I knew that I was done trying to run my own life. I am grateful for the people at the treatment facilities I landed in along my journey that took over when I changed my mind and wanted my will back. They helped me to put myself back together one tiny piece at a time. They taught me that life is not a race and that there is no winning. It’s a day a time process whether we like it or not. I’m grateful for all the women in my life that led by example and offered me their friendship at no cost. I remember all of them and still have some of them in my life today. They showed me patience while I decided who and what I wanted to be. For all the times those women just said “Wow, that’s awful. I’m sorry you’re feeling _______” instead of always throwing me some quote or directing me to a page in a book, I’m FOREVER grateful.

Being sober is NOT always easy and being a mom isn’t either. Living Life on its terms isn’t always fun. Run from people that say it is…FAST.

My daughter is seventeen years old and currently sucking the life out of me. She’s the age I was when I had her, and every bit as stubborn and pig-headed. She has a lot of my old “life skills” and doesn’t understand why everyone can’t just change to suite her needs. THIS I can totally identify with, but that doesn’t help. Some lessons we must learn from life experience and I’m afraid she’s on a bumpy road. Powerlessness is a horrible bitch when the people we love are in trouble. Sometimes being a good mom means giving her the room to make mistakes and learn her own way. It’s NOT easy. I do trust however that just like that day so many years ago, we will find beauty in the breakdown.