Recovering from an addiction is tough enough, and when you throw in the tremendous responsibilities of motherhood, it can seem like an impossible challenge. When I finally sought help for my alcohol addiction, I was a single mom with three young children. I didn't want to stop drinking, but I was afraid I would lose my kids. I didn’t have the luxury of going to a treatment program, so I detoxed at home. I never knew how dangerous it was to detox without any help or how going to a treatment program would have been so much easier for my kids and me.
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. My children were the most precious gifts in my life, and I figured I owed it to them to do whatever it takes to stay sober.
I watched like a hawk what the moms with long-term sobriety were doing. I paid careful attention to the moms who were relapsing and took copious...
“To love an addict is to run out of tears.” ~ Sandy Swenson
I was visiting my daughter who was going to school in Paris, and we decided to take a couple of days and head down the south of France. It was Mother’s Day, and we were sitting in a café in Monaco enjoying the most exquisite French pastries and espresso. I thought to myself, “Wow, pinch me! I’m in Monaco for Mother’s Day with my beautiful daughter. Life doesn’t get much better than this!” Well, that sweet moment suddenly collided with my cell phone ringing with a call from my former husband. I figured it couldn’t be good news because it was about 2:00 a.m. California time. I answered the call with trepidation to hear him tell me our 17-year-old son had totaled the car and had gotten a DUI. I had just spent two years of sleepless nights, cried buckets of tears, and drained every bank account I had to pay for him to go to the best therapists and residential...
I was taking a new exercise class yesterday and I knew it was going to be a big stretch for me. Many intimidating pieces of exercise equipment were glaring at me. Large weights, steps stacked high, and huge ropes.
I looked around to assess all the other class members and I was sure they were all much stronger, thinner, more experienced. As I continued to make-up these stories in my head my fear grew and I doubted my ability. I often tell my clients when they are in fear-based thinking, “you are making up a story about the future so you might as well make up a good story.” I decided to take my own brilliant advice and congratulated myself on showing up for the class and decided to challenge myself. I made a decision to ‘compare me to me’ instead of comparing myself to the others in the room. To compare is to despair and only leads to unhappiness. The demands we put on ourselves for perfection is disheartening.
When it felt like it was...
"Once upon a time a woman said “f*ck this shit” and she lived happily ever after.” ~ Author unknown
Zilch, Nada. Niet. Nein. No! Practice saying “No” or even better, “Hell No!” and stand up for your bad self. We are just too damn sweet, accommodating, and appeasing, and sometimes, we act like a pushover. Tell the bake sale women that your oven has a rat problem. Call in dead to work. Tell your husband no sexual favors until you get some Tiffany. I found a great quote that reads, “I don’t care what people think of me. I’m busy; I’ve got magical shit to do.” That’s right, we have to say a firm NO to what doesn’t serve us. No to things that waste our time and energy, because our...
How to Enjoy the Holidays Booze-free for Moms
While Eleven Pipers are Piping and Ten Lords a Leaping may be all having a great time; as moms, during the holiday season, we may feel more like Seven Swans a Swimming upstream in rough waters. Due to all the high-stress and expectations of others, and ourselves we may feel more like the Grinch than Jolly Old St. Nick. While it would be nice to have the Eight Maids a Milking arrive at your door to help with the long to-do-list, it is possible to enjoy the holidays without them.
Here is a self-care plan to help you not just survive the holidays, but to actually enjoy them ... Booze Free!
1. Lower your expectations of yourself.
For years I tried to keep up with the Jones (whoever the heck they are) and I pictured everyone having a Hallmark holiday and living happily ever after. I worked tirelessly to have the perfect house, the perfect kids in the matching outfits, buy the perfect gifts, and send the perfect...
Mommy's Going to Treatment
What to Say to the Kids
The effects of a parent's addiction on a child can be devastating and going to treatment can be the best gift a parent can give their kids.
Knowing how to talk to your kids about your addiction and going to treatment can be as tricky as trying to figure out what to tell your kids about the birds and the bees. Both situations require age-appropriate information and answering their questions with age-appropriate responses.
Here’s what not to do! When I decided to get some help for my alcoholism, I sat my three small children down on the couch and said, “I have something to tell you.” I can only imagine what their little minds were thinking, and I’m sure one of them thought they were in trouble! I said, “Mommy’s an alcoholic, and I’ve decided to get some help to stop drinking.” My oldest child asked, “What’s an alcoholic?” I told them it was like being allergic to...
While I was still drinking I had no idea what it would be like to be sober. In the brief moments I contemplated not drinking, I thought all the fun would stop and I'd be sentenced to a life of misery without alcohol. My delusional thinking told me everything was just fine when in reality, I had a lot of shame about my behaviors while under the influence of alcohol. No one told me how incredible life in recovery would be.
Here are just a few of the many gifts of sobriety I didn't know which were waiting for me in recovery.
Guilt: The gift that keeps on giving.
Guilt is the constant companion of the alcoholic or addict, maybe even more so for a mom. Every mother feels guilt about her parenting from time to time. That’s doubly true for women who have created drama and caused distress for their children by drinking or using—possibly inflicting psychological damage. Here’s one story from my past that still makes me cringe.
Due to my drinking, I was separated from my husband but was still living in my beautiful Northern California home with my three children, ages two, five, and eight. I was the top salesperson in my company and still getting promoted. I had the perfect job for a drunk, taking clients to lunch and dinner, with lots of drinks on the company dime. Things looked good on the outside but they were rotten within.
I promised myself I was only going out for two drinks. I told the eleven-year-old babysitter I’d be home in a couple of hours—no later...
RUTA STERNBERGS, Ed. D., Psy. D., CADC-II
What is compassion in recovery?
The dictionary defines compassion as the “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” In recovery, it is the extension of that same empathy and concern towards oneself, which means treating oneself with the same level of kindness and respect that one would show others in their time of need. As individuals come out of their drug and alcohol addiction and realize the full impact of their past mistakes, it’s tempting for them to feel guilt and shame for the harm they have caused others while they were addicted. Compassion in recovery, a vital skill that people learn in dual diagnosis treatment, helps promote healing by removing obstacles of shame and guilt that often cripple an individual’s progress to full recovery.
Where does self-compassion come from if you’ve never had it in the first...
Recently I attended an intervention training with the internationally acclaimed interventionist, Ken Seeley. The training was outstanding and I learned some new tools, which have helped me tremendously with the interventions I’ve done for mothers. Here is a great article he wrote.
Helpful Guide When Planning an Intervention for a Loved One
By Ken Seeley, Founder of Ken Seeley Communities
Addiction can be absolutely brutal to witness in a loved one. Each day you see the cumulative effects of drugs or alcohol stealing away the person you know and love. As they spiral deeper into the vortex of addiction, family and friends are left feeling utterly helpless to change the course of the disease.
Amazingly, the one person who should be aware of the self-destruction being waged via addiction is the one person who seems to be completely clueless…the addict him or herself. As is common in addictive behavior, denial is like a steel barricade that has been...
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