Getting Help

In light of my recent relapse, I have chosen this safe coping strategy for the week:

When in doubt, do what’s hardest. The most difficult path is invariably the right one.

It was definitely a difficult choice to return to my rehab house. Not only is it disrupting my husband’s life again, not only is it confusing for my children, not only did I have to uproot myself from a number of commitments, but above all else, it was so difficult and frustrating to have to admit defeat and failure and return to a place I swore I’d never need to.

But, a skill I’m still trying to master is to take help when I need it, and from whom I need it. At this time in my life, I need serious help, and the counselors here are professionals trained to help people like me. I must remember that what’s happening to me is not entirely my fault, and not entirely in my control. So, I am getting help and support and learning to build a new life on the foundation I have left.

This is also a coping strategy I will need to use when I do return home again. Things in my life have really shifted this time around, and it will be a long, hard road to get back to where I want to be. I will have to do the hardest thing in most situations to get ahead.

I’ll add a bonus coping strategy for this Monday, since my situation has become more serious. It is (I think not coincidentally) the very first one on the list of safe coping strategies:

Ask for help. Reach out to someone safe.

That’s what I did when I decided to come here. I was no longer safe at home. Maybe I never really was. I knew that I’d be safe here, and that they’d know what to do with me. My husband and kids and friends and family have no idea what to do with or think of me right now. But here, they do.

I needed help. Badly. I finally owned up to it and did what, for some reason, is the hardest thing for me sometimes: I asked for help. It’s difficult to be here. It’s killing me to be away from my children and husband. And I feel very ashamed to have to give up my daily duties to other people, that I was no longer able to fulfill them. But, I know that at some point in my life, I can look back on this time positively, and know that I made the right choice.

Deep down right now, I already know I made the right choice.

Relapse

I have returned to rehab for a while, because I had a relapse. And it was a big one. A very bad one. Things have significantly changed for me personally and professionally as a result.

They say that relapse is very normal. And not to beat yourself up too much about it. But I just can’t help but think to myself that all of this could have been avoided if I just. didn’t. drink. So much of my time in rehab was spent on relapse prevention, that I feel foolish to be back here again.

I feel very hopeless at the moment. I really messed things up this time. I know hope is the key to successful recovery and sobriety, so I’m also very frustrated with life and with myself. I just want things to feel “normal” again.

My counselor here has me reading a book about anxiety in general (not associated with substance abuse), and it has me realizing just how bad my anxiety really is, and for how long it has been that way. I’ve always had anxiety, my entire life. And I learned different ways to cope with it.

But the past four years of my life have been incredibly difficult and painful, and I should have sought help much sooner than I did. I tucked all of my anger, sadness, grief, doubts, anxiety, stress and pain into a neat little pocket of denial. I felt like I could handle it all. I didn’t really have it that bad, I thought. I just ignored those feelings and trudged on. Eventually I used alcohol to cope with the fact that I couldn’t handle it all on my own, and I was overflowing with negative thoughts and feelings, about myself and the world.

I got to the point where I need to begin to release those feelings, but that’s where the real work comes in. Some of it came easily, other stuff is buried deep inside. I thought when I left rehab that I’d done the work, and everything would be fine. But in truth, I only felt fine because I was in rehab. I was away from the stress and pain of my everyday life, and had been given time to focus only on myself. Once I left, focusing on myself and overcoming the stress was all up to me, and I wasn’t ready to handle it.

My words of advice right now are to avoid relapsing as much as you are able. Beginning the recovery process was an enormous task for me. And it is so much harder this time around. It’s harder on me physically to go through the withdrawals. It’s harder on my relationships to have let everyone down again. It’s harder to climb out of the pit of guilt and shame. It’s harder to view the future in a positive light.

Keep on the path, and you will feel better eventually. People would often tell me, “Each day will be a little easier than the one before it.” But, that’s simply not how it goes at all. Some days are amazing and easy and bright and you feel full of potential. Other days are difficult, dark, tiring, endless and you feel like you accomplished nothing and nothing is worth the effort. But, you have to remind yourself that although those days come, they also go. And there are brighter days ahead, if you can stay strong and committed to your sobriety.

This is Recovering Motherhood

Welcome to my new project: the Recovering Motherhood blog. Thanks for reading the first of what I hope will be many posts. I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself and my goals for the blog.

I am a woman in my mid-30s. I am wife and a mother to two young children. I live in an urban area. And, I am a recovering alcoholic. At the time this post went live, I was on day 40 of sobriety.

I attend AA meetings. I see a counselor. I recently finished a 30 day residential treatment program (better known as rehab). I have been a blogger for 6 years, and I thought I’d start a new blog to document my experience and my recovery, so that I might pay it forward and help someone else. Ideas for a new blog came to me free-flowing during my stay at rehab, and I’m thrilled to get started.

I’d like this blog to encourage and comfort those who might be struggling with addiction, or know someone else who is. I’d also like it to break down the stigma surrounding addiction, and treatment for addiction, because I want people to seek the help they need. For a long time, I felt too scared, ashamed and guilty to seek treatment. I wish I had done it months, maybe even years, before I did. Without it, my disease of addiction would surely have killed me. I really worry about all the other people out there who are not seeking treatment, and who may not even be aware that they have a problem.

The domain name “Recovering Motherhood” has a double meaning as well. Not only am I a wife and mother in recovery, but I am also recovering my place as a wife and mother in my home, and in society. So much of my time spent drinking had me isolated from my husband and children, and probably in their eyes, disinterested in having them in my life, which simply was not true. I’m clean and clear-headed now, and trying to make up for that lost time. I want other mothers of small children who are battling addiction to know that it’s ok to seek help. People will be less judgmental than you think. Those who truly love you only want to see you well, and will help you in any way they can, including helping you with your motherly duties while you seek treatment.

Recovering Motherhood isn’t just for mothers, or even just for parents. It’s for anyone and everyone who’d like to hear and know more about addiction and recovery. Being a wife and a mother to young children while going through the process is only part of my story, which is why I share it. But with this blog, I plan to focus mainly on my recovery, and the recovery process.

Please feel free to reach out at any time. Email rm [at] recoveringmotherhood [dot] com. Or, comment on any post. Please browse my resources page for places you can anonymously go for help. You don’t have to feel alone anymore, there’s a lot of people out there happy and eager to help.