The person I was when I first got sober four years ago is not the same woman I am today. So much has changed and shaped me these last several years. I have learned, forgotten, and re-learned many lessons.
I got sober in a 12-step program. I believe it saved my life. Although I learned many slogans and principles in my home group, they are not what sustain my recovery. What sustains me now is being able to connect with other mothers in recovery—Sober Mommies specifically.
In 12-step programs, I often felt as if I was expected to fit into a box. I was totally okay with that for awhile, and I’m still okay with it. I just need my box to be bigger than the one I was given. I needed to add some things and find my tribe.
I got sober when I was seven months pregnant, basically forced into treatment by the state, still actively using.
Not many people told me, “It’s okay to just be where you are.” I stuck with it though. I was no longer on medication-assisted treatment, so I felt comfortable there. I followed all the suggestions, did lots of work on myself, took service positions, and made many wonderful friends. Life was good.
When I was two years sober, after the birth of my second son, I was crippled with postpartum depression and anxiety. I couldn’t leave my house. I could barely care for my newborn and toddler. My supportive family, my 12-step friends, my beautiful children, and therapy could not fix what I felt was “wrong” with me.
At the time, I deepened my relationships in the Sober Mommies community. I found the online support and sisterhood refreshing and learned there was no right way to do recovery. It was time to build my own box and fill my toolkit with resources that worked for me. Discovering this was so liberating and I ran with it. I got to experience women from all over coming together to support, love, share and celebrate their achievements; great or small. I got more involved, volunteered my time within the group, and went to the live meetings when I could. I got to be honest, open and real. I started healing, exercising, practicing things I believed and sharing that with other women.
I could finally breathe—recovery was working for me again. I found my missing piece—my connection to other sober moms. I wanted to share and to receive hope and love. For me, I began to grow when I found others who understood what I was feeling and could say “Yes! Me too.” I could share things that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing in a crowd of men and women at a meeting.
I had a place to belong.
I still do many of the things I did in early recovery. I go to meetings and I continue to live by many of the principles I learned there. In a meeting recently, I had the opportunity to read a piece of literature I love to the group. The comfort of that reading and the foundation I’ve built in those meetings helped carry me to a place where I comfortable enough to explore other options in recovery. The open-minded attitude that I embrace today is because I explored those options.
I just want to be me.
I don’t know if I ever would have truly found my authentic self if I hadn’t found a community of women who support and uplift me and each other. In crisis life was breathed back into me through the rigidity of that structured program.
In recovery, I get to climb the mountain until I find the oxygen density that sustains me through the sisterhood in recovery.