Addiction doesn’t play fair. It comes with a host of overwhelming challenges that invade your life on all flanks and you spin in circles in valiant battle but never seem to gain any ground. Oh, and this is all while juggling the rest of an already chaotic life with its own stubborn demands. As a mother.
Even the most callous of critics will agree that motherhood is a tremendous responsibility and mothers themselves will tell you that times it seems impossible. For example, mothers have a special bond with their children and often have to decide if a kick in the butt or a long hug is what they need most. Then throw in a career and all of the everyday chores and planning involved in running a household.
Life doesn’t make things easy. Recovery from addiction only adds to the angst. But it can be beat straight up or at the very least managed to a level that allows you to live strong and make steady progress toward better days. Mothers who succeed in reaching this point share a bond of perseverance and adherence to a lineup of positive daily habits.
Build a strong foundation
Everything starts with a strong foundation, from buildings to relationships to best laid plans. Moms in recovery must follow the same mantra. They have to keep attending recovery meetings, connect socially with equally-challenged mothers, and nurture enduring friendships so they never feel alone or isolated.
Indeed, one of recovery’s most critical elements is a support community made of other mothers healing from addiction, and this is the start of a solid foundation. We all know the devastating effects of substance abuse on a family but only a recovering mother can fully understand the challenges. Talking and spending time with peers is the best way to establish a reliable starting point toward a healthier life.
Many women are selfless and eager to offer help but they often won’t ask for it. Such is the case with addiction; much of it revolves around shame and this is a big deal for mothers who think they should have their act together. But they are afraid to reveal failures or share sensitive, personal challenges. It’s okay to be vulnerable and feeling safe enough to do that without being judged is invaluable to healing.
Resentment and recovery don’t mix
It’s not easy in the moment, but when anger rises you need to consciously step back with perspective and see your role in the situation. It is common to play victim and blame someone else for your troubles but it only makes matters worse. Resentment is poison and only holds you hostage to the negative cycle of drinking or drugs to “deal” with life. In fact, being trapped in that cycle is one of the leading causes of relapse.
Mothers successful with long-term recovery don’t blame others; they know how to process anger or resentment through another inner voice and respond accordingly instead of simply reacting.
Take care of yourself
Respect and compassion are honorable and fulfilling traits when passed on to others but it is perhaps more important to bestow those feelings to yourself. Recovering mothers must take this practice to heart. Instead of turning to drugs or alcohol as an escape, learn new ways to slow down and give back to you.
Get out of the house. Get some exercise; just a walk around the block or start a regular routine of intense, sweaty, heart-pounding training. Check out a new hobby and run with it. Get together with family and make a point of doing fun things with friends.
Learn the HALT process (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) and whenever you find yourself feeling any of those, fix them. It’s easy to eat something if you’re hungry. Tired? Take a nap. You get the idea.
Tend to yourself; a grounded and healthy soul leads the way.
Find a spiritual place
It doesn’t have to be about a formal religion but at some point, addicts and alcoholics who have turned the tables and established a robust life found and maintain a strong spiritual side of life. Religion and spirituality are two different things and while you may disbelieve entirely one way or the other; it has been proven time and again that people wallowing in the dregs of life change and heal after connecting with a higher power.
Some turn to God and find solace there; others find a god of their own understanding or a part of their soul with its own higher power that only needed to be released. Spirituality means different things but many recovering mothers find a light by doing things like this:
- Get outside and connect with the natural world. Listen to the birds sing, watch an eagle soar, let a butterfly land on your shoulder.
- Meditate, pray, reflect. Find a place that lets you unplug and drift into your true self.
- Volunteer somewhere or for something that stirs passion in you.
- Dance for no reason.
- Put on your favorite music and let it do its thing.
- Read a book or three.
- Live the moment.
Don’t pull the trigger
Life is full of challenges: job loss, illness, heartache, loss of a loved one, financial strife, chronic pain or debilitating disease, emotional or physical trauma, and pressure in many forms. These can all become triggers toward a new addiction or relapse to a former. No matter the temptation, don’t return to artificial means.
Your strength lies within.