If someone would’ve told me 3 years ago that I would be a sober, single mother of two, I would’ve graced them with my most condescending southern-accented bless your heart. Total abstinence was more terrifying than the thought of being solely responsible for two little humans. If that doesn’t scream insanity, I don’t know what does. Afterall, didn’t everyone fear vulnerability and pain the way that I did? The truth is, only other recovering addicts would understand my total avoidance of anything emotional. Life as I knew it, was all about me. If everyone would follow suit and play their part, the world would be a much better place. I was a victim of all circumstance and no one had it worse than I did…or so I thought. Predisposed but ignorant, I spent the majority of my life escaping reality. As a means for survival, like a lion hunting its prey, I carefully plotted and executed my next high. My appetite for opiates increased and ultimately led to my demise. I was broken, in all facets.
During the peak of my addiction, my life was the epitome of unmanageable. I tried hard to maintain the image of the “perfect mother”, meanwhile everything was falling apart. The facade of my secretive escapades came to light and I was left exposed. Eventually the state got involved. My biggest fear came to fruition. The last bit of hope I had left, my kids, were now being threatened. I remember the fear in my dad’s trembling voice when he called me to tell me to rush home because CPS was on their way to meet us. I also remember getting high before heading to the house to face the reality I so carelessly constructed. This would be the start of a grueling, but redemptive process. Nothing created sheer panic like the thought of losing the little humans I loved the most, yet I still couldn’t stop. Oblivious to the disease of addiction, I was completely powerless. The odds were stacked against me. Subjected to multiple hair follicle drug tests, the insanity of my addiction had me completely convinced I could continue getting high and no one would know. Every fiber of my being didn’t want to use and every ounce of self will run riot propelled me into dancing with my demons. These horrible memories cultivate humility and the perseverance that harvests the long term sobriety I maintain today.
It wasn’t long before I was sitting in treatment gratefully rebuilding my life. I was finally free from the bondage I so recklessly reveled in. My life continued to flourish. When stepping into recovery no one hands you a manual on how to handle life on life’s terms. Nor do you find recovery specifically addressing the struggles of staying sober and maintaining balance as a single mother. I was forced to accept the reality I created for myself. Afterall, I had two beautiful children watching me. Motherhood didn’t keep me sober, but it has been the catalyst from which I persevere through hardships without any mood or mind altering substances. I find that practical application of faith and the principles I learned getting sober, have paved the way for cultivating the life I live today.
Turning my defects into assets
I have always been a perfectionist, to say the least. I thrive on positive affirmations and first place accomplishments. On the other hand, in active addiction, I grew accustomed to building up my successes only to find myself eventually left standing in ruins. When I first got sober I noticed these memories triggered fear from both ends: fear of failure, fear of success. Withdrawing altogether or chasing after the gluttony of perfectionistic punishment, there was no happy medium. Forced to make friends with my defects, I made the conscious decision to change the connotation and push myself into using them as assets. I would pick a random defect for the day, and enhance my ability to utilize it for growth.
Persevering through adversity
Whether it’s committing to long term sobriety or navigating through the wreckage of my past, quitting is not an option for me anymore. In early recovery, never thought I’d ever get through the horrendous opiate withdrawal and sort through the overwhelming feelings of despair. Somehow I managed to change every “I can’t” into “I must”. I clung to every suggestion given by the women that went through extreme hardships in recovery and stayed sober during the process. Discipline and action became necessities. I create a flexible schedule and try to accomplish my weekly tasks. For a seemingly hopeless addict like me, this diminishes chaos. When left to my own devices, I will magnify every problem and tremble at potential solutions. Today I get to lead by example with my children, exemplifying the beauty of adversity and how every situation we encounter is a catalyst for growth.
With the world at our fingertips, through social media and unlimited online resources, we often forget to enjoy the present moment. It’s so easy to dwell on past regrets and stress over future outcomes.Too often I get wrapped up in the erratic behaviors of my kids, not following directions, and I miss the candid moments of their messes. In active addiction, I was never present. Complete oblivion became my reprieve. I couldn’t account for years of my life, squandering away memorable moments one antidotal narcotic at a time. Drowning out the pains of my yesterdays and fears of tomorrow, I retreated from any meaningful relationship. I preferred isolation with my vices over intimate connections. No one ever played their part appropriately and I would obsess over compensating for their shortcomings. Wearing invincibility like a badge of honor, I thought I was untouchable. Afterall, look how much control I had over my own life. The idea that I have control over anything other than myself, is an illusion that must be smashed. Relinquishing the control freak mentality was liberating. Practicing mindfulness in life’s unexpected havoc has created space for patience and acceptance. Everyday I wake up sober and find myself more patient, empathetic, and grateful. My relationships have flourished and my disgruntled complaints have been silenced. I have grown accustomed to the freedom manifested through soaking up gratitude in every little moment.
Photo is Creative Commons from pixabay
Guest Author Bio
Tricia is a single mom with two years sober. She works for Recovery Local, a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness of the disease of addiction. Recovery Local was founded by and staffed with recovering addicts cultivating recovery resources through sharing our own experience, strength, and hope.