Recovery changes you more than you know. This Mother’s Day and every day my love goes out to all moms impacted by substance use. I know what you’re going through. Watching children or other loved ones turn into people you don’t know is hard. Having them be at risk for death because of drugs/alcohol is hard. Trying everything in your power to stop the downward cycle is more than hard. Feeling helpless and alone even though you know others are having similar experiences is the hardest. Moms tell me that they hurt when friends tell them how great their children are doing, and all they want is for their children to survive. We moms of addiction feel alone. Moms who are in recovery for their own drug and alcohol use also suffer in so many ways, including loss of self-esteem and the love of their families. Our prayers and love go out to these moms in recovery, too. Everyone who goes into recovery is a miracle, me included.
Five Recovery Changes I needed To Make
This is the kind of mom I was before recovery. Being a mom is really hard work, and it's even harder when you work to earn a living and then have to take care of the family's domestic life and needs when you get home. So easy going I wasn't.
I was controlling
Parents dealing with substance use can be very bossy and controlling. I don't think I was so very controlling until there was something I felt I had to fix.
I didn’t listen
I thought I knew better and was right about everythig, so I couldn’t hear anything that didn’t agree with my point of view.
I was self-righteous
Many people I love don’t have stop buttons when it comes to drugs and alcohol. I saw myself as the more righteous and right as a director of what they should do because I do have a stop button in that department.
I was angry
For so many reasons. I felt I was a good person so why was this happening to me? I was a good mother why were my loved ones at risk and why wouldn't they listen to me, who could make it all better if only they did what I told them to?
I was hurt
Why wasn’t I trusted and loved and given the authority my loved ones needed?
I was highly reactive
Pretty much everything set me off onto a rant or tirade about all the above.
Recovery Changes Your Perspective
As you can see, all of my feelings were centered around what other people around me were doing to make my life horrible, and I was frustrated because I (who was so perfect in every way) couldn’t fix it. I didn’t know that I didn’t cause the disease, I can’t cure it, and I can’t control it. I also didn’t know my own behavior was part of the problem. Substance Use Disorder (Addiction) is a family disease, and everyone plays a part. Mom (or dad) trying to manage and control the situation will not find recovery even if a loved one stops using.
Recovery Was Self-Discovery
Recovery for me began when my loved ones started getting better and didn't need me so much any more. I had to change. For me, recovery was self-discovery. It happened like this. I went to an Al-anon meeting. I didn’t want to. I didn’t think I needed it. I didn’t like the people, or where the meetings were held. I didn’t understand the 12-step language and didn’t want to learn it. I think it’s safe to say that everything about the 12 steps was contrary to my take-action, can-do nature. Many other parents have told me they went to a meeting or two, heard something they didn’t like and never went back. That is too bad because there is a great deal you will hear in 12 step programs you don’t like. That doesn’t mean the program can’t teach you what you need to know to be better yourself. And there's another benefit. Your loved ones need to be able to trust in your changes the same way you have to trust them.
Recovery Changes Meant Taking Action
I started to like Al-anon and chose a group that better suited me. It took a little experimentation. I also went to An AA Meeting and picked up a chip. There’s a comedy character who isn’t an alcoholic who went to AA meetings to meet a man. I went to an AA meeting to hear from people who have to stop doing something they love to stay alive. Several of my loved ones had to stop doing something to stay alive. One loved one moved from AA to Al-Anon. AA teaches you how to stay alive. Al-Anon teaches you how to live. I went the other way from Al-Anon to AA and stopped drinking for family recovery support. I admit ten years on I don’t go to meetings very often anymore, but two 12 step programs made lasting recovery changes.
The Gift Of Sobriety
Being sober for ten years has taught me how deeply ingrained alcohol is in our culture. How advertising makes us think we need it, and how even our closest friends can cease being friends because we’re sober now or have a recovering family. There is still a lot of stigma associated with sobriety and 12-step programs. I'm here to say that recovery is the only illness on earth for which recovery makes you better than you were before. We're as normal as families dealing with any physical illness.
Recovery Changes Relationships
I practice the 12 Steps because I want better relationships, and the principles do work. You judge people less and listen more. You don’t take everything personally and find reasons to react negatively. You focus more on what you’re doing and less on what other people are doing to you. You know for sure you’re not in control and that’s a good thing. 12 steps seem normal to me now. I know, understand, and respect the language. I needed more than a therapist. To recover I had to learn program that helped my loved ones.