I Wasn’t A Good Mother
My name is Ginny and I have been sober for two years.
I have five daughters ranging in age from 13 years to 16 months: Lexi, Celia, Lilli, Peiton and Adi. I stayed sober throughout each of my pregnancies; that never seemed hard to me.
Getting sober has probably been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. However, raising five kids in sobriety has not been easy either. When I went to rehab, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “How can my girls manage without me? I have to be home with them! I can’t leave!” I soon found out that was far from the truth. I wasn’t doing my kids, let alone myself, any good by staying home and continuing to drink. As I look back now, I wonder how I ever thought I was doing a good job at managing my life and kids. The reality was the opposite. I wasn’t doing a good job at all.
The first time I got sober, I was clean for 10 months. I spent the first year of Peiton’s life in a tailspin. If I wasn’t in the hospital, I was in rehab. I was even in jail once. In the end, I did it.
I got sober.
The first year was really rough. Not only did I have to try fixing myself, but I had to fix my relationship with my kids. That was a big task for me. Each of them had different thoughts and feelings on the situation.
My oldest, Lexi, is my big helper. She has always been very protective and encouraging. The first time we sat down and really talked about what happened, I expected her to be angry and distant. Instead, she just looked at me and said, “Mom, its ok. You’re getting better and that’s what matters!” Two years later, she still feels that way. She even started bringing her friends to the house again. One of her friends even spends every weekend with us. When Lexi told me she talked to her about me being a recovering alcoholic, I was shocked. I asked her why she decided to tell her that and her response made my jaw drop.
“I’m proud of you. It’s who you are!”
Celia is my second child. She and I have never had an in depth conversation about my sobriety or my drinking. I have found that she likes to please others and pretend things didn’t happen. She has developed severe anxiety, but with extra one-on-one time, and lots of reassuring, she does just fine.
Lilli, my middle child, is the angriest of them all. When she gets upset with me, she tends to remind me of all the things I did, said, and forgot while I was drinking. She has no problem expressing how much she hates me when she’s angry. She refuses to spend the night at someone else’s house due to fear that I won’t be here when she returns. She tells me she hates me and she is still angry with me (rightfully so), but I know she loves me.
Peiton and Adi are still toddlers and I am grateful that they have no idea what our family went through as a result of my drinking and subsequent sobriety. When they’re old enough to understand, I will tell them that I am a recovering alcoholic. I don’t believe in hiding things from my kids.
My life feels chaotic quite often, which makes staying sober difficult. I don’t have an available babysitter to give me a break and my kids take up all my time. I had to give up attending meetings because I haven’t been able to find one that I can take my younger girls to. I don’t think having a toddler running and screaming in the meeting would be helpful to anyone!
I have been able to find support online that has helped to get me through the rough days. I also have a wonderful therapist that has helped me get through my first two years of sobriety. Still, I know life is not perfect. I have my bad days – sometimes I just want to scream and cry (and sometimes I do). I’ve learned to reach out for help when I have an urge to give up. There isn’t much ME time in my life, but I always make sure to find time for my recovery, even if it means checking in online at midnight.
As a mother, the guilt I carry with me because of the things I did, the things I missed, and the damage I may have caused my girls is immeasurable. They are my life. Everything I do today revolves around them and what they need. My girls are involved in sports in addition to school. I do my best to keep them busy because I believe that busy hands have no time for trouble. With five kids at different stages of development, it gets hard some days. The guilt doesn’t ever go away. I think I’ll always feel horrible about the things I did, but I can’t live in the past anymore.
Today I’m sober.
Today my kids are happy.
Today is where I have to stay.
Ginny is a mom and a recovering alcoholic. She’s been sober since November of 2011. She used to think she was a “chronic relapser,” but found sobriety and is so grateful for the support Sober Mommies has provided her.