It's been 1,811 days since I blew 0.00, at Hazelden in Newberg, Oregon. It's been 1,814 days since my last drink. That's three days. Three whole, long-ass days, and two very sweaty nights, of being woken up every two hours for vitals, receiving a breathalyzer, and just praying for the damn detox to be over. Three days I never want to do again.
I'd be lying if I were to say that at almost 5 years sober, I don't romanticize about the possibility of being able to drink again. Just the other night when I was putting my two year old to bed, I found myself thinking, "maybe I'll be able to be a normal drinker by his 21st birthday, and be able to 'celebrate' with him".
First off, how do I know I'm an alcoholic? Well, let's see- I'm putting my two year old child to bed, day dreaming about being able to drink with him in 19 years. WHO does that? Alcoholics do. It's the way our weird brains are wired. Being an alcoholic mother in recovery has been no walk in the park. Being a mother in general isn't, so I don't like to say that being in recovery as a mother is harder for me than a "Normie" mom, but in some aspects it's different. Here are some thoughts from my heart on how so.
1. I think as a human, it's natural to want connection and to be needed. To long for relationships- romantic and friendships, both. While a lot of mother's deal with anxiety around meeting other mother's, playdates, and birthday parties, "normie" mother's have developed coping skills to deal with that anxiety. It's said that an addict's emotional maturity stops developing at first use. I find this to be very true for me. While a lot of my Normie mother friends can get through their anxiety and come out on the other side. I find myself feeling like the awkward 9th grader I was when I began using. Sometimes, I feel like I'm lacking so much emotional "experience" that I'd rather not attend play dates, birthday parties, or other mom functions where I'll have to talk.
2. FOMO. I want a good mom friend, but "if I don't drink with the other mom's, or go out to the wineries, I'm not going to get to experience the silly laughter and bonding", says my addict. My addict screams this to me in just about every situation I go to where alcohol is the main source of the function: concerts, holiday parties, auctions, taste and sips, even independent consultant gatherings. I find alcohol is the source that makes the party fun. Now, while Normies know how to have fun without alcohol, I'm still retraining my brain to convincingly like myself enough to know that I am worthy of having fun. It seems so stupid. But prior to oils, I literally used to second guess every single thing I said to a certain mother, or withhold from saying something funny or sarcastic out of fear of being me and in turn disliked.
3. Stigma. If I were a Normie, would I let my children go to play dates and be under the care of an addict/alcoholic, who has also talked openly on social media about her struggles with PPD, anxiety and even been open about almost relapsing? I'm not sure I can say that I would. If I take out all the education and experience on drugs, alcohol and mental health that I have gained in the last five years, my answer would probably be a big, fat, HELL NO. Because without that education and experience, I am left with the stigma the news brings to us daily. And those stories are scary AF. So, no. At the begining of writing #3 I thought, "maybe". Maybe I'd let my children be watched by someone in recovery, but if my only knowledge of Alcoholism and Addiction was what I heard on the news, my answer would be no flippin way.
I thank the Lord above that everyone is not me. I have found a tribe of women, Normie's and women in recovery to share in the struggles of motherhood. I go to certain people for certain things, and in the end I think we are all just looking for connection, and understanding of what each other are going though. In the greater scheme of things, I'm grateful for the perspective my alcoholism and addiction has brought me. Without it, I'd most likely be ignorant to the fact that women in recovery are capable and worthy of being trusted, loved and of friendships. I know that sounds shallow, but prior to recovery, had you asked me to describe an alcoholic I probably would have said "homeless, selfish", and "chooses to use".
I know we all have our "stuff", and struggles. I don't like to put myself in a light that my "stuff" is worse than Normie women just because I went down the road and got lost in drugs and alcohol whereas other women didn't. I just want to encourage any woman, in recovery or not, to share their struggles with another woman and not stir alone in them. And listen. Listen without judgement. Ask questions, be vulnerable, and use that heart for what it's for; to love.