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When Enough IS Enough

Superhero kid against blue sky background. Girl power concept

 
 
 
“Chris…I went back out last Thursday.

I don’t plan on staying out,

 but I don’t know when I’ll be back either.

I’m proud of you, friend.”

 
 
 
This is the text I received at 7:21 pm this evening. This is the text that broke my heart. But, this is the text I have been waiting on for my five months of sobriety. I knew just what to do to restore a dear friend to his sobriety. I had the right words, the words that would fix him. So, I put on my cape and dialed the phone. Twenty four minutes and nineteen seconds later, ego properly deflated, I realized my cape was much more suited to wipe my tears as I learned one of the hardest lessons I have learned in my sobriety: You can’t fix people and you can’t make someone not want to drink.

What do you tell someone that says they hate being an alcoholic? “Yeah, I do, too.” How do you respond to someone who tells you they were staying sober in hopes of regaining a lost love that, in reality, will not return? “That’s probably not the right reason to get sober.” How do you console someone who is giving voice to all of your own reservations and objections to this seemingly simple but at times almost impossible goal of never again picking up a drink? “Yeah, forever IS a really fucking long time.”

I sat and wondered why no one gave me a script for this conversation. Someone has to know just what to say, right? I don’t know who that person is, but it is certainly not me. Without my superpowers, I was forced to do as a mere mortal and just be there, just be me, just listen. Boy, is that some hard shit to do. It is our nature to want to fix, to mend, to heal. It’s a hard fall when you are struck with the realization that you are just you, plain and simple.

So I listened to his justifications, his rationalizations and to his explanations. I heard the fear, and the self-loathing and torture that was underlying all of it. I recognized the need he had for me to tell him it was ok, the permission he was seeking and his promises that it wasn’t going to be that bad this time. I didn’t tell him that he was wrong, I didn’t tell him his bottom was so close I could see it. I didn’t tell him that one beer was never going to be enough and that it would rapidly turn into a bottle of booze and drunken despair and shame. I didn’t remind him that alcohol has never fixed anything, ever, for anyone. He knew all of that, in the end he was saying it to me. We got where we needed to go. So I let him know I was there, no judgements, no holier than thou statements. And that I was going to be there with an open heart, no matter the time of day, no matter what he had to say.

I realized after hanging up that it was not going to be the last of those calls that I will get. There will be another alcoholic in need, in pain, in despair.  And another after that.  Because this disease is an asshole.  And no one understands that more than another drunk.  The only thing I can do is answer the phone, open the door, open my heart and pray that someone will do the same if I need it one day.

I hope he makes it back to sobriety, but I don’t know if he will. I just know that I will love him.  
And you reading this, I love you, too. Because, although we have not met, I know you and you know me.  And we need each other.  Maybe, just maybe, that will be enough.
 
 
 
Have you ever had someone close to you relapse? How did you deal with your powerlessness? What do you suggest to anyone who might currently be struggling with this situation?

60 Days Clean, And Pregnant

Sober Mommies dot com 60 Days Clean and PregnantI started saying I never wanted children around age fifteen. It’s not that I didn’t like kids, I adored them, and they adored me. I was great with kids and made a great aunt and babysitter. I believed myself to be far too damaged to ever pass that DNA on to an innocent child. This was a lie I carried with me.

I was an addict long before I picked up a drug or drink. I was selfish, self-centered, dishonest, and unhealthy from an early age. I knew I couldn’t stay clean long enough to be any good to myself, let alone a baby.

Thank God I found recovery when I did.

Imagine my surprise when, with 60 days clean, I found out I was pregnant. My fiancé and I were using protection, but on my 30-day clean date (God wink!) we forgot. So, now I am a mommy in recovery. Lies shattered, dream realized. My daughter was born on my 10-month anniversary.

Being a mommy in recovery has been so emotional. Being pregnant and newly clean was really hard on me emotionally. Being sleep deprived and confessing the true nature of all your wrongs is well…interesting. A teething infant at a meeting is an experience. A toddler at a meeting is always a good time. No matter what, with some help with a team of other mommies in recovery, I’m doing it.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes one to raise an addict as well. Many experienced mommies were happy to lend a hand or shoulder to help me, and I am happy to help other mommies today.

Staying clean does come first, but I can take it further today. By practicing the principles I’ve learned, I can be the best mommy I am capable of being every day and shed the damaged picture I’ve always had of myself.

I’m simply, beautifully flawed.

 

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Reflections Of Gratitude On 9.11

The other day, I cleaned the boys’ bathroom. It was disgusting. If you have sons, you know what I am talking about. Running to the toilet, barely making it types of messes. Dirt and grime around the sink, and the remnants of soccer practice and recess all over the tub. As I scrubbed, trying not to throw up in my mouth, I thought about women I know; mothers who may never get to complain and feel grossed out by such things. Mothers whose children are sick and cannot play now. Mothers whose children have died from incurable diseases and that won’t have the chance to clean up their messes. Mothers whose children were taken away because of addiction to drugs or alcohol, abuse, or neglect that no longer get to see them. Mothers who died on this day 12 years ago, who will never get a chance to see their children grow up. Women who want desperately to be called “Mother”, but cannot. I wonder how they feel when I complain about these trivial events of daily life? Do they resent my whining? Wouldn’t they give ANYTHING to experience that frustration? I suspect that their answers would be YES.

When I thought about this, I fell to my knees and cried. I prayed that their pain and frustration and sadness would be heard and that they would find things- even in the smallest of ways- to once again find joy and happiness and healing. I asked myself how I could be of service to them– how can I be their friend?

For a very long time, I believed that my problems were insignificant and tried to put on a brave face, make it look like these problems weren’t there and used things, in private, to escape. I used food, alcohol, love, even TV… anything to find a way to numb myself from the things that gave me pain and frustration and sadness. I hid these things so well that no one knew, but the pain never went away. When I did confide in others, I felt like a burden and that some people thought was just sitting in my sadness too long and not doing anything about it. I felt judged by others, sometimes because of things said, but often because of what I thought someone might say. For several years, I would hope that today would be different and I would promise not to escape, but by the end of the day I was drunk. During that time, I knew I had a problem, but lacked a willingness to change. No one knew, so why change anything? But when I stopped reaching out and withdrew further, and my escapes got longer and days passed, I knew I needed help. I prayed and acknowledged that I could no longer escape the revolving door of my feelings and I wanted it to be different.

That was exactly one year ago.

This week I celebrate that decision. I take steps to learn about myself and explore different ways to live. I have learned that when I hurt, for whatever reason, big or small, I don’t need to hide it from the world. I can share my feelings with a friend and pray that it will pass and when I take the time to find gratitude, even when I am cleaning the disgusting bathroom, I feel at peace.

But still, I struggle with my relationships with those people who have lost much more than me. I imagine that there are times when my gratitude is of little consolation. I try to say the right thing but often, I worry that I will just make them feel worse. Sometimes, I end up saying nothing at all because I am so afraid of hurting them and I don’t know how to share my life with them without making it seem like I am dismissing theirs. I stay away. What if instead, I consider that when I pull away, I take away their chance to heal and to feel gratitude? Hasn’t helping others and finding gratitude helped me? If I am to have genuine relationships with others, I cannot measure my experience against those of my fellows and recognize that no matter what the reason, we all get to feel however we feel. It is not a competition for whose pain is deeper; it is all pain. And when I get stuck in the little things, maybe they can offer me grace and patience and as part of their healing, they can have a chance to find gratitude by being of service to me.

This beautiful post was submitted to us by Lauri G.

SoberMommiesdotcom9-11postLauri has been sober since September 7, 2012 and feels blessed to be the mom of two amazingly crazy little boys. She has always dreamed of being a mom, but lost herself somewhere along the way. She writes about her journey to find herself in motherhood at: www.mynameisntmommy.wordpress.com

Perfect In My Imperfection

Recovery work often includes a lot of self-examination. How did I get to this place? What factors influenced my addiction? What do I need to do to heal?

The beauty is that there are so many different ways to heal. What has worked for me is breaking it down before building back up. I need to see where I’ve gone wrong, because I can only change what I can control. And the only thing I can control is how I act.

PerfectInMyImperfectionSoberMommiesdotcom

I would much rather talk up my good qualities than be told I have character defects, but I can’t change what I don’t know!

I didn’t know what intense emotions felt like until I became a mother. When I first started healing, I remember feeling so overwhelmed by everyday emotions because I was feeling them like a “normal person” for the first time. The feelings are still intense, but no longer overwhelming because I’ve grown accustomed to them. It’s a beautiful thing.

I wrote down my character defects and how they appear in mothering, because I need to see things in black and white to really understand them. The “payoff” is what I’m giving up by asking my higher power to entirely remove it.

Victim?- Don’t have to take responsibility for my actions?

This one didn’t show up in mothering as much as it did in my co-parenting. I could very easily get angry with my husband for something that I contributed to, but conveniently forget my part in it. I would also get resentful that he didn’t help out more, even though I hadn’t asked for help and I made it seem like I wanted to do it all. The control freak in me wanted to control all aspects of parenting, but the victim side in me wanted to blame him for allowing me to do it all. WTF, self? Now I’m more honest in what I need from him as a co-parent and if I start to feel resentful about something, I first search to see if I can share some of the blame.

Reactivity- Respond to situation without thinking; don’t worry about who I hurt

This is a biggie and one I work on many, many times a day. My son is a very spirited and independent child who has inherited my stubbornness. When he does something that I’d prefer he didn’t, it’s so easy for me to fly off the handle. Prior to recovery, I was more likely to yell and be unreasonably angry. This would, of course, scare him – which then would make me feel guilty. Nowadays, I try to take a deep breath first, and then respond rather than react. I keep my voice level and explain why I’m upset, rather than yell. I know that he is not yet capable of modulating his emotions, so as the adult it’s up to me to keep mine in check when possible. And when I do lose my cool, I make sure to apologize.

Insecurity?- Build walls, keep people away, push loved ones away before they see I’m not good enough?

Insecurity is the hallmark of a mother, and I’m no different. For much of my son’s life, I’ve doubted myself as a mother. I almost cut myself off from the Internet because every time I read something that was different than what I was doing, I felt like I was doing it wrong and felt like a failure. As I’ve gotten more experience in this mothering thing, I’m growing in confidence as well.

Workaholism- ?I’m a good person because I work so hard?

I could have missed out on so much in Colt’s life if I hadn’t realized this was a character defect so early. Important: Do not confuse ambition with workaholism. Work was another drug for me – something I could lose myself in and use as a buffer against the pain of reality. Now I see that being a sober mother is the most important job I could have.

Envy- The right thing/attribute will make me happy/make me a good person

?Envy goes hand in hand with insecurity. It’s SO EASY to see other moms and be envious of how they seem to have it “all together.” But, I know from experience that I looked like one of those moms from the outside, when inside I was a hot mess who was barely keeping it together. It’s also easy to be envious of things – if only I could afford that big fancy stroller/toy/vacation, my child/family would be happy too. NOT TRUE.

Perfectionism- Being the best is what’s most important. If you don’t do it perfectly, it’s not worth doing

There is no such thing as a perfect mother and it would be an exercise in futility to try to be one. I had to learn that one really quickly or go insane. But, I still managed to beat myself up for not being perfect at this motherhood thing. Today, I’m much gentler with me.

Gossip- Put others down to make myself feel better, prove my superiority

This is huge in the mom world and comes both as gossiping about a specific person and gossiping about (judging) a whole group of mothers. We moms are sometimes our own worst enemy, when we should be champions for each other.

I’m not perfect, but I am perfect in my imperfection and willing to work on my character defects. Doing this has helped me heal. I am doing the best I can, and that is enough.