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.
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 my 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 a 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.