It’s true the path to recovery is fraught with challenges in the beginning. It’s work, discipline, commitment, peeling back layer of vulnerabilities, speaking our truth and more. It also calls for perseverance and faith. Then you throw motherhood in the mix – being responsible for our loved ones – and the challenge can feel insurmountable.
One mother, who finally sought help for her alcohol addiction through the 12-step program, expressed how difficult it was to be newly sober and being a single mom to three young children, all at the same time. She says, “At first, I didn’t want to stop drinking, but I was afraid I would lose my kids. For the first ninety days, I craved alcohol every day. When I wanted to drink, I white-knuckled it and told myself I had two choices – the alcohol or the kids.” Another newly sober mother shared her insight, saying, “As a new mother in recovery from alcoholism, I have gained an enormous amount of first-hand experience into the unique challenges that motherhood brings for those either trying to get sober or intending to sustain their recovery. However, there are also many positive reasons for mothers to get or remain sober.”
By implementing certain practices to their weekly schedule, both moms started to flourish in their daily lives…
- Community is key. Building a strong, supportive community with other fellow mothers via a12-step program for moms in recovery was crucial in helping to keep them grounded and in touch with “being human” – the struggles to overcome. The toll that substance misuse has on a mother, and her family is difficult. Only another mom can truly comprehend the pain and challenges of being a sober mother. “Early in my journey, people would ask, ‘How are you doing?’ I’d respond with a big fake smile and say, ‘I’m fine.’ I was going through a divorce; trying to raise three young kids; filled with guilt, pain, and fear; and wanting to drink every moment of the day. Clearly, I was not ‘fine.’ But other moms in long-standing sobriety taught me by example how to be vulnerable and share my hidden secrets of shame.”
- Ditching resentments. Learning from their peers in the support groups, and practicing the steps of forgiving others, and themselves, helped lift some of the guilt, shame and self-hate weighing on their shoulders. “Before I got sober, I didn’t have any tools to process my feelings. The only thing I knew to do when I was angry was to scream, pout, sulk, and focus the blame on the other person. But I learned that moms with long-term recovery have learned how to process anger constructively. They don’t blame others or play the victim.”
- Daily Spiritual Practice. Practicing daily spiritual moments of time in your life can feel unauthentic at first. You may feel you don’t deserve the act of kindness for yourself. One of the mother’s expressed that it was something that took her a little time to accept. “I realized the hole I had once tried to fill with alcohol was the very place inside my spirit where my Higher Power resided.” Some ways to instill good-for-the-soul timeouts for yourself can include:
- Go for a walk
- Spend time in nature
- Zen out with tea and some quiet time
- Create a gratitude wall
- Find a spiritual community
- Read inspirational literature
- Do some adult-coloring
- Disconnect from social media and reflect
- Be open to not knowing
- Do yoga
- Get out in the garden
- Turn up your favorite music and dance
- Find meaning and purpose in life
As we approach Mother’s Day weekend, the celebratory holiday can be tough for sober mothers. With gifts, flowers, chocolates and cards found in most stores across the U.S., the reminder can be triggering for families struggling with substance misuse. But a priceless gift you can give is the gift of sobriety.
Whether you are like the mothers mentioned in this article, who are staying sober for their children (and themselves), or you have a mother in recovery, there are many ways to celebrate Mother’s Day that don’t cost a thing.
Consider celebrating Happy Sober Mother’s Day by:
- Thanking a parent or supportive figure in your life. This could be your mother, an aunt, a grandmother, another relative or supportive friend.
- Mother and daughter can do a random act of kindness for one another.
- Take your mom for a walk.
- Watch a movie or binge-watch a favorite TV show together.
- Do a much-needed chore for your mom.
- Make your mom a meal she likes.
- Bring her flowers and/or chocolates.
- Create a memory.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance misuse and needs additional support, Connections in Recovery can help you by providing In-home Detox, Case Management, a Sober/Recovery Coach or Companion, a Life Coach, or put a medical team together for you. Visit us at www.ConnectionsinRecovery.com or call (888) 617-1050 to find more.