I Feel Forgotten In My 12-Step Community
I had my second baby in mid November. I knew I would have to temporarily step away from my 12-step meetings for healthy reasons. Cold and flu season is not a good time to be carting a newborn baby. I also have yet to master the art of being out and about with both tiny baby and toddler.
I’ve watched many new moms get overlooked or forgotten by members of my recovery community over the last few months. They fell out of sight, and therefore out of mind. I tried my best to express to each that they were more than just women I knew from meetings; that we were friends.
In hindsight, I probably could have done a better job, but I tried.
Part of me was prepared to fall into “forgotten” after the baby was born because I had seen it happen, but another part thought I was different. That part of me believed that I was special – that I had somehow impacted my fellow 12-steppers in a way that I was exempt from outcast. I didn’t expect that I would be the focus of anyone’s day, but it hurts that most of the people who have accepted me as a member of “the family,” drive past my house on a regular basis and don’t bother to say hello. I understand that holidays are hectic, but I can’t step myself from wondering if I ever meant anything to these people who have meant so much to me.
One of the things I love about 12-step programs is the sense of “We.” We recover together with the support of the group. That spirit of “We” can be felt when we gather in groups to share and support one another. It is because of that acceptance that I got and stayed clean in the first place. It stands to reason that I should still be part of “We” when I walk out of that church basement, but I don’t feel it. It’s as if because I’m no longer present at X amount of meetings, I’m somehow “out.”
Recovery and Motherhood are both hard sometimes. The ability to support both is something I feel 12-step programs lack. As mothers, we need each other. As recovering people, we need each other. There should be a place where experiencing mom guilt and stress doesn’t automatically mean I’m not “practicing the program” the way “We” should.
Sober Mommies is that place.
Because I participate, I have a tribe. It’s a place I can be both mommy & recovering person; somewhere total strangers can reach out to each other and start sentences with, “Me too!” and not “What you SHOULD do is…”
I always said I would never live my life on social media, but right now, I am. I still miss the hugs and contact, but I am getting more support from my iPhone than from people I’ve known for years.
Even though I’m grateful, that makes me really sad.
Planning a monthly Sober Mommies meeting in my community is on my to-do list for the immediate future. I’m sure some of my 12-step community will be a part, but I hope to replace the sense of conditional “We,” with a sense of sisterhood we will all still enjoy even after we leave the meeting place.
photo credit: lilongd via photopin cc
Rachel has been in recovery since October 29, 2010, and she’s not afraid to speak out about it. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two daughters.