Dear Struggling Mama

I want you to know that I get you; that you are not alone. I want to encourage you to give yourself the chance to get through whatever you’re going through however you need to, and know that it’s okay to lean on me. I hope that if you’re feeling like the water is too high, you will reach out, connect, and let someone love you through your moment. I want you to understand that you are lovable, no matter what, and stronger than you know.

Whenever something incredible happens in my sober life, I think of how many times and how badly I wanted to give up. I think about the worst times drunk and sober, and how I was 100% certain I’d never survive them — that they’d change me into someone I wouldn’t recognize.

And they did.

Those moments turned me into the woman I am today; a kind and compassionate person who understands desperation and has experienced the miracles of hope. Today I am a woman I would not have recognized 15 years ago, and also one I would have avoided.

I have always feared the unknown. I literally hate its guts.

I enjoy the illusion of Sober Mommies Don't let fear of the unknown keep you from changing what you know doesn't workcontrol. It is one of the symptoms of the trauma cards I carry around with me daily. Those cards were all I had when I got sober, and I didn’t want to let them go. One of my favorite “life skills” has always been, “fuck this.” I thought perhaps if I didn’t care about anything, nothing could hurt me. I believed that was the only way to control the pain I had already experienced and avoid future hurt. I have attempted to hide myself behind alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships, gambling, shopping, gossip, YOU NAME IT.

I have pretended to be anything and everyone I am not to shield myself from rejection and discomfort – mine and yours. I have remained stuck and stagnant in a million different ways, and I have perfected the art of self-deception in order to believe I was happier because I was “safe.”

Over the past 15 years of sobriety, I have hit a trillion bottoms in all sorts of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings about myself and other people. I have found scattered pieces of myself all over and have, at times, handed them to another woman and asked her to help me figure out what to do with them.

Those moments have strengthened me. They have armed me with incredible facts about myself that I get to sift through every day and decide what to keep or discard. It is because of those wretched moments that I know how brave I am – that I have the power and ability to fight. I am a better woman, wife, mother, friend, and advocate because of them.

They are my humanness, where I have found incredible compassion and empathy for others. They have made me an easier person to talk to, to relate to, and to trust. I didn’t know my pain had purpose, but if I could go back in time and support myself through it, here’s what I would say:

Dear Struggling Mama - Sober Mommies

“Please be kind to you. You are doing the best you can with the tools you have. You are okay even when you’re sure you’re not. Trust yourself. Your gut is usually right on, and in the future you will refer to it as your “God voice.” You will gain shit and you will lose it, and it will all have a positive impact on your life — even if it hurts. Trust in process. The swing of the pendulum always slows in the middle. Enjoy the calm, but don’t stay there too long. There is always more to learn, and the opportunities to grow are endless. You are worth every action taken to improve your situation, whether you feel it or not. Make mistakes, and forgive yourself wherever possible. You are only human, and being human is hard. There are people waiting for you to share all the lessons you’ve learned, and everything will make sense in time, I promise.”

If you are experiencing one or ten of these moments, and you think you’ll never be free — if you keep finding yourself in the same horrible spot and cannot for the life of you figure out how you got here again — if you’re struggling with feeling worthy of the action necessary to make your life or situation better — please know I understand.

Your life and struggle has purpose beyond anything you can even imagine, and someday – if you don’t give up – it will all make sense. Some day, you will meet a woman who is 100% sure she is all alone in the world and believes that no one could ever understand her pain or journey. If you don’t give up, you will be there to assure her that you do.

You ARE worth it, Mumma. YOU ARE SO WORTH IT. If you just can’t bring yourself to believe that today, that’s okay. Please believe that I believe, and know that you are loved.






Julie Maida lives in Massachusetts with her amazing husband and three children. She has been in abstinence-based recovery since May 2, 2000.

Julie is eternally grateful for all the gifts of recovery and fiercely determined to advocate for, and connect ALL women with the appropriate support and resources necessary to achieve their personal recovery goals. She writes about mothering with mental illness at 

26 Comments on “Dear Struggling Mama

  1. This is the real stuff of recovery Julie – being raw and afraid, messy and all over the pace and showing up anyway. Trusting, having faith in the process and in the women who went before you. We absolutely do not have to do this alone. Thank you so much for sharing your message of hope and strength!
    This is the the most moving part – such raw truth!

    “Over the past 15 years of sobriety, I have hit a trillion bottoms in all sorts of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings about myself and other people. I have found scattered pieces of myself all over and have, at times, handed them to another woman and asked her to help me figure out what to do with them.”

  2. Congratulations on your sobriety and I’m so glad to connect. I can really relate to so much! “I have pretended to be anything and everyone I am not” – that was me too. So glad we are both so changed today.
    Take care!

  3. I have a feeling I’ll be reading this a lot over the next months and possibly years to come. You’re words have meant so much, thank you from the bottom of my heart. A heart that is truly good enough.

  4. Today is my third day of trying to stay sober, and I feel like you are speaking to me. Thank You Julie.

  5. God brought me to this post because I am feeling overwhelmed and like He has abandoned me like everyone else has

  6. I love this, I need help right now, I’m about to detox myself at home & I’m so scared!!! I fail every time I try to do this & I need support!!

    • I sent you an email on 11/9, Jennifer. Detoxing can be a very tricky thing, and there can be very serious and even deadly consequences. Please consult your doctor. Also, let me know how you’re doing!!

  7. Hi! I am new to this site. I have been battling this beast for a long time. More recently has it escalated into a big issue. I feel tired and so unhealthy. My liver actually feels inflamed. I’m scared to go to the doctor to find out the damage. Uggghhh. I am a separated mother of a beautiful 7 year old. I had an affair and am still with my boyfriend of almost 3 years. Husband found out a year ago. I seemed to have had the perfect life and perfect family. Then it all fell apart. I struggle with the guilt of breaking up my marriage and family which drives me to numb myself even more. My ex is still so nice to me and when we drink together (still try to do family things like dinner at his or my place- I know so weird), then I pretty much drink too much, black out and forget what we “did” the night before. Wtf? When I drink I can easily put down a bottle of wine and have a few more. I thought back in the day 2 glasses a night was a lot! Ugghhh. The progressiveness of the disease….anyway, recently I did this diet where I couldn’t drink for a month. Never felt better. It was a type of cleanse. I need to permanently cleanse!!! Hope everyone is doing well today. I look forward to getting to know all of you!

  8. Thank you for that, it’s nice to know that there’s other moms that have felt the same way!!

  9. This was a very uplifting read that I needed to find today. I have been trying to get sober for 5 years now. Today is only my 2nd day sober of this attempt. I really truly want my life to change. I’m exhausted with trying to fight it for much longer. I hope to be sober this time and share my story with the many who will need it in the future as you have. Thank you Julie.

    • Rachel,

      I promise you that, with help, you can do whatever it is you set your mind to. We are here to support you and help you in any way you will allow. Congratulations on two days!! That’s absolutely incredible!!!

      P.S. There’s no such thing as “only” two days sober. That’s a miracle, and I’m sending you a virtual high-five.

  10. Thank you to everyone that posted. I am on day 5 and really struggling. I started drinking heavily 2 years ago to numb the pain in my life. All it has done is make my life worse and affected every area of my life.

    The anxiety of actually “feeling” my feelings is so difficult:( I am consumed with constantly thinking about my past, present and future. I have isolated myself from everyone while trying to stay sober, including my kids that are in their early 20’s and don’t live with me. Is this normal? I feel very alone and scared, but want to stay the course on my sobriety.

  11. Oh how I have needed these very words over the last month…I will be saving this for a daily “prop me up” reading for a bit. Thank you, Julie.

  12. This is perfect for me as I approach Day 2. Thank you! I am so glad I found this site!

  13. Thank you for your kind compassionate message. I am new to this site. I’m a woman who had long term recovery (12+ years) and have relapsed several times over the past year. I allowed the things that my recovery gave me to keep me from my recovery. I let my life and circumstances become more important. I became a mommy to a beautiful little girl while sober. Although she is only 3 1/2, I don’t want her to ever have a memory of the events of this past year. Although nothing tragic happened, it definitely could have. The tragedy is in the loss of my self-esteem. The shame and guilt I feel about being a mother who traded in her 12+ years of sobriety for a drink. I am 2 days sober today and went to a 12-step meeting yesterday, because I know that is my solution. I truly am so grateful to find a group of other like-minded, sober mommies to share this journey with.

    • Welcome, Bobbi! I’m so glad you’re here and to hear that you’re giving yourself another chance! That’s incredible, and we are here to support you every step of the way! <3

  14. Pingback: I Tried to End My Life and It Didn't Work - Sober Mommies, Inc.

  15. Thank you so much for this. I’m in tears. Another day one and I just can’t believe I keep doing this to myself. I want so badly to change the person that my drinking has turned me into, and so do my kids. I am very glad I found this site and pray I can finally make this happen.

  16. Reading this brought tears to my eyes, just reading the words. I just hit 4 years sober June 4th, 2018; it was like feeling a giant smiley face emoji floating above my head! Even though I’ve known for years that I have suffered from depression and anxiety…it seems so different lately. I got sober after I found out I was pregnant. I couldn’t do until I was 4 months along…but even though it didn’t happen until then, I’m still so proud of myself because it started the road to my sobriety and my little girl was born healthy ?. But lately I’ve been feeling so alone and down in the dumps..not even people saying they’re proud of me makes me feel lighter. My 3 1/2 year old daughter hugging me or saying I love you is probably the only thing. I’ve had a new medical issue show it’s ugly head about a year and a half ago, that’s really affecting my life and anyone else’s that “tries” to help in a big way! I’ve been practically fighting doctors because they talk to me like it’s not REAL!! Then listening to people yell at me and not believe me that I can’t do anything about it……and I’m just so lost and don’t know what to do anymore, nvm trying to raise my daughter the best I can. I just kinda loved that your words brought me tears because the tears came while seeing nice words and reading ? them to myself. I know that you should try and find someone to talk to about everything..especially during recovery..but I haven’t found anyone. People have exchanged numbers but they’re not there when I just need an “escape” (coffee/adult time), and it’s not because of busy schedules. I feel like I’m unable to connect with anyone anymore.

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