(An excerpt from my book, A Sober Mom's Guide to Recovery (Hazelden 2015)
HAVE YOU EVER REACHED THE POINT OF COMPLETE EXHAUSTION?
Of course you have—you’re a woman. And as a mother you are an expert in the exhaustion department. Add to that being a mother trying to recover from addiction, and exhaustion becomes a way of life.
One day when I was newly sober and working full time, going through a divorce, and raising three kids, I was complaining to my therapist about how tired I was. He suggested I take a twenty-minute nap in the afternoon, between work and picking up the kids. I truly thought this man was from Mars: he might as well suggest I fly to the moon.
I rarely took time to go to the doctor because I always said I didn’t have enough time. I had been feeling ill for about two weeks but I had promised my boys I’d take them to the Giants game that night. I told myself I’d go to the doctor tomorrow; tonight...
Money Money Money
By Rosemary O’Connor
Edited excerpt from A Sober Mom’s Guide to Recovery (Hazelden 2015)
A woman’s best protection is a little money of her own.
— CLARE BOOTHE LCCE
Two of the most prominent relapse triggers I see with my clients are romance and finance. As addicts and alcoholics, most of us have money issues. Just as we learn to have healthy relationships with people, we also need to learn to have a healthy relationship with money. Most people would rather tell you their deepest, darkest secrets or about their sex life than tell you about their dysfunctional relationship with money.
My relationship with money was definitely dysfunctional! I went mindlessly shopping for clothes, shoes, cars; you name it. I often padded the grocery bill, and I even stole money from the kids’ piggy banks.
When I was about five years sober, I hit my bottom with money. I was $60,000 in debt, and I could hardly breathe. I was a single mom trying...
I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.
Penny, the people-pleaser will say, do, and be whoever you want her to be. She’s like a chameleon that takes on the color of whom she is with at the moment. Penny just wants you to love her, adore her, and give her credit for all her selfless devotion, all the while resenting who you have made her become. She avoids conflict and confrontation at any cost as to not upset anyone. Penny feels guilty for saying “no” when asked to do something for someone else.
On some rare occasions when she does say no, she over-apologizes and usually comes up with a long story about why she can’t. Penny has no idea what she likes or dislikes. Poor Penny watches what other people do and tries to mimic them. You mentioned you’ve always wanted a pool, next morning you’ll wake up to the sound of Penny operating a bulldozer, it’s only 6:00 a.m. and it’s...
Bells are ringing, chestnuts are roasting, and Santa’s on his way, and you smile to all passersby, saying “Happy holidays” when really you want to vomit up fruitcake.
The holidays can be so stressful. The shopping, traffic, lines at the stores, events at work and school can turn the Hallmark holiday into Hallmark hell. The feeling of loneliness can trigger the dis-ease if you sit home by yourself romanticize the holiday; thinking everyone is having the picture perfect holiday without you. And to top it off, there is alcohol everywhere you look.
I got sober November 13, 1999. I was separated from my then husband. Our children were two, five, and eight years old. Within the next six weeks, I had to face Thanksgiving, my daughter’s birthday, my son’s birthday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the new millennium! I prayed that the holidays would just be over with. "How the hell am I not going to drink through all of this?" I wondered. In the end, I did...
She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.
Most days, I wake up feeling happy. Nothing out of the ordinary is happening, things are no different than usual, but for some reason, I am excited about life; I feel bright and cheery, and can’t wait to get out of bed. I am grateful for the simple things in life, like the rain outside, the green trees and the smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen. Then there are those other days when I am irritable, discontent, and impatient with everyone, but I have learned how to be happy and coped with those things that might not contribute to that happiness. My days use to start out in a much different way, where I would wake up with a head full of horrible thoughts. “Oh my God is today the day the IRS will show up at my door?” My house was such a mess I was sure someone was going to report me to the show, Hoarders. My kids would be...
All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.
For the alcoholic/addict woman, the dos and don’ts of dating are convoluted and complex. Dating for anyone today is like a minefield, but for recovering women who already have a history of disastrous relationships, the dangers are even more significant. My friend Diane told me, “I’ve dated every dysfunctional man in Arizona, so I had to move to California.”
You may feel like your Prize Picker is broken after so many failed attempts, or maybe you had no relationships and just slept around, looking for love in all the wrong places. You may be the woman who never dated and had given up on ever finding love. It was suggested I refrain from dating for the first year of sobriety, which I thought was absurd. I put down the drink and picked up the men (plural). The first one was thirty days sober, and I was ninety days sober. It was love at first sight: my dysfunction was...
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