The two greatest days of my life were the days that my children were born. Unfortunately, my disease cast a long shadow over those happy events. My disease knew no bounds; it didn’t care if it destroyed everything that I love.
At times, I believed that a mother’s love for her children would be enough; that it would keep me from tumbling over the edge of oblivion and into the chasm of addiction. Believing this lie kept feeding my guilt, forcing me further and further into the abyss. When everything inside me was screaming “Stop for your children!”, I couldn’t. I hated myself for this.
I pretended that I was superwoman. I thought I could do it all: work full time, go to school, take care of two small children, and keep a marriage that was doomed from the beginning. He and I were toxic together. His emotional and physical abuse had taken a toll on my ability to cope with life. Eventually even my love for my children was not enough to hold my addictions at bay.
For the sake of my children, I finally left my marriage after seven years. I packed a few suitcases and moved in with my parents. I fell apart after moving home. Years of pretending that everything was fine were catching up with me. I could not keep up with all of the lies.
I tried to stop using so many different times, I just couldn’t make it more than a couple of days. The faces of my children haunted me after each relapse, leaving me unable to find solace in the only solution that I knew: prescription drugs and alcohol. Having no answers or excuses left, I finally surrendered and checked into a drug and alcohol medical detox and rehabilitation center.
The first thirty days of sobriety were excruciating. Feeling each and every feeling left me exhausted and overwhelmed. I felt raw and wounded, but the sense of relief of not having to use made it all worthwhile. I faced everything head on and I slowly began to heal. There were times when I wanted to give up and curl up in a ball and not face the world.
During my first year of sobriety, all of my feelings came pouring back in. I was forced to come to terms with fear, pain, anger, and resentment. In order to heal and move forward, I had to learn how to let go. I forgave people that weren’t sorry for their actions or the impact they had on my life. I accepted apologies that were never said. Early on, I learned that forgiveness doesn’t mean their actions were OK. Forgiveness meant that in order to move on and live my life, I had to find peace. I did this for me and for the future I hoped to have one day.
I kept moving forward, often just being thankful to make it through the day. What made the difference was the relationship I developed with God. I stayed sober because I have a higher power. I was finally able to experience peace. This perseverance and faith allowed me to experience all that recovery offers. Everything that I thought I lost has been returning to my life.
I was away from my children for the first 18 months of my recovery. During that time, my divorce was finalized. After spending time in Pennsylvania and Florida, I returned back to Virginia. I left a broken and hopeless woman; I returned transformed and ready to be the mother I had always wanted to be. It was a little overwhelming, but I knew that God would grant me the courage and strength necessary to make it through.
It’s funny how the lessons learned in AA, can be applied to our daily lives in ways that we could never imagine. I learned that setting boundaries for myself was freeing. It made me feel safe for the first time in my life. I used to struggle with the concepts of boundaries and consistency. Now, those two values are what I thrive on. My children are seeing that, too; it gives them a sense of security. Boundaries became key to me staying in recovery.
Before getting sober, each failure was felt fully and the morbid self-reflection that I engaged in would hinder my ability to grow as a parent. That is not the case today. I know that I still have a lot to learn, but I am excited to continue to grow as a woman and as a mother. Sobriety has given me the ability to be teachable. This is just one of the many lessons which have transformed my ability to be a mother to my children. I am not perfect, I am human, and I make mistakes. The difference today is that I accept responsibility and move forward.
Most importantly, learning how to nurture my own inner child has allowed me to become the emotionally centered mother that my children always needed. This is the essence of what it means to be a mother. Today I intuitively know how to meet their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, because I myself am becoming whole. My being present in the moment shows them that they are safe and protected. They no longer need to act out in order to get my attention. Having my children back in my life, or rather my being able to be present in my children’s lives is the greatest gift that my sobriety has given me. For that, I am eternally grateful.
This piece was contributed by SobrieTea Party Contributor, Rose Lockinger. She is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise awareness about the disease of addiction. She is a single mom to two beautiful children and has learned that parenting is the most rewarding job in the world. Rose is currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing. You can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram.