Too many mothers who suffer from the disease of addiction are burdened by the overwhelming responsibility to “hurry up and get well” in order to return home and tend to their parental obligations. A popular recovery mantra is: “You will lose whatever you choose to put before your recovery”. The issue, then, is obvious: forced to choose between your needs and your children’s needs (keep in mind a women is taught when gifted her first baby doll) the priority is, and forever should be, your children. It is drilled into us as early as our childhood that if we deem anything else a priority, we are failing as mothers, and by extension, as women.
The disease of addiction is so insidious, our recovery demands prime real estate on Priority Boulevard. We are then left to decide which is more important: Should we choose correctly, and attend to our recovery we are labeled “bad moms” by the committee between our ears first, and second, by everyone in the free world who is also convinced women who bear children have a sole purpose: caretaking!
Should we choose our children, our recovery is short-lived, at best. You’ll discover the very same people who swore you weren’t involved enough while tending to your recovery stand in judgment once more. This time the accusations are bold-faced insults and they all want to know why you can’t stay sober if you love your kids.
I’ve learned all of this at an enormous cost. If you are like me and wish to save yourself the time and heartache, I highly suggest you accept the following:
- It’s none of your business what other people think about you
- There are women who carry wounds identical to your own waiting for you in recovery
- They were never true friends to begin with if they judge you for your disease (would you judge them if they had cancer and couldn’t spend as much time with their children due to chemo treatments?)
- Remember: Always recite to yourself that addiction is a DISEASE.
5. You are absolutely no good to your kids (or anyone, for that matter) if you are on your way to a relapse.
Too many women go with their gut instinct and rush through a 28-day program only to return to their “normal” lives with barely any skills to combat the overwhelming cravings. They try and make it to self-help meetings and reach out yet find that those groups seem cliquey. It’s difficult to feel like an outsider and that’s exactly what you are when you walk in to a meeting for the first time.
It’s important to keep in mind that the people who attend regularly and have been in recovery for a lengthy period of time see people come and go. Obviously they are going to sit back and watch for newcomers to “stick and stay,” as they call it (remain a regular at the meetings).
Part of the reason a long-term residential treatment is so important is due to the fact that creating an entirely new network of friends takes some time. When an addict enters into a recovery program they abandon every person in their life who is still in active addiction, usually everyone in their life. From there, they attempt to rebuild a completely new life with new friends, new hobbies, an entirely different environment. This is a scary process!
I write about this topic because I am a mother in recovery who tried the 28-day program cure. Truly, it was no cure. I’d get a small taste of recovery, hope, and pieces of my life began to assemble themselves into a picture I liked to look at. Life would ensue and I would get pummeled by those things I had previously ignored (bills, broken relationships, etc..) which would present themselves at the worst possible moments. Life would become too frantic to fit in a daily recovery meeting, the kids would demand every waking moment because I’d been absent for the last month, and recovery would fall into 7th place. As I stated earlier: “Anything you put before your recovery, you’ll lose”.
Without any friends in the program to warn me about signs and symptoms of relapse, I’d trudge on blindly. My attitudes would soon become negative and harsh. My behaviors would follow and I’d begin acting out all my character defects: manipulation, ego, dishonesty, until finally, the moment would present itself. I would be in the wrong place at the wrong time and someone would have my favorite “forget-me-not” (fentanyl) and off I’d spiral till my next 28-day treatment.
There has been a marked difference due to my choice to attend longer term treatment. I’ve had the time and a safe space to begin to create a recovery network, piece myself back together, find a sponsor, begin working the steps, and confront the demons of my past that attack my memories with a therapist.
I guess the purpose of this post is to remind the women who are struggling with addiction and have kids who depend on them that it’s ok to take the time you need to get well. Don’t be ashamed of it. If I would have done this program initially, I could have saved all of us the trouble of having to research numerous 28 day programs. If you aren’t able to take care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to take care of your littles. It is heartbreaking to have to take a lengthy amount of time away from them…but if you are dedicated to working the program correctly – you won’t be disappointed with the results!! Neither will they!