Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Domestic Enemies of the Recovering Alcoholic Mom

Welcome to the return of the Domestic Enemies series! It's our hope that these posts will make us giggle, open our eyes to what life is like for different kinds of moms and help us be the kind of people who get it. 

You may not love everything these posts have to say, but we ask that you keep any negative comments respectful. Here we go!

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Hi, I'm "Annie". I am a student/stay at home mom to four amazing kids. I have seven year old triplets (no, no in-vitro, just "Surprise, TRIPLETS", shortly following the "Surprise, your pregnant!!") and a 10 year old son. I can identify with so many of the Domestic Mommies posts of the past. With the triplets having Autism, and my oldest having ADHD, there's the special needs mommy. After their father left for parts unknown, there's the single mommy. Becoming engaged to a wonderful man with three children of his own, twins with special needs and a teenage daughter, there's the step mom. The multiple mom. The low-income mom. The large family mom.

This post has to do with one I haven't seen before, but we are out there, believe me. 

Hi, I am Annie and I am a recovering alcoholic-mommy.

Happily sober for almost a decade, I encounter some interesting scenarios. Most truly do come from a place of concern, but there are so many who seem to come from a darker place as well.

Enemy #1: The former mom friends who once they find out I am a 12 stepper just run away.
Truly, my friend and former friend, alcoholism isn't something you can catch. It's a "you are or you aren't" thing, believe me. If I was OK hanging out with you while you were drinking before you knew, what makes it different now? I would never impose a sober lifestyle on anyone who's not an alcoholic. Trust me, and for goodness sake have one for me! :) I have a program and a support network, and won't place my sobriety in jeopardy because you are having some wine. If it gets to be too tempting, I will excuse myself.
Bringing me to--

Enemy #2: The blogs.
I LOVE MOMMY BLOGS! Am quite obsessed, actually. Reading about the lives of other mommies is incredible. It reminds me I am not alone! I have been known to spit coffee on my keyboard while reading Rants From Mommyland. I had to leave a doctors office waiting room once because I was laughing so hard I thought I'd pee while reading on my phone.

That being said, there are times when I have to step away. Because most of the blogs I love are by women who are not alcoholics, and therefore can talk about T-boxes, or have titles like "Mommy Wants Vodka--Mommy drinks because you cry", and casually joke about Xanax and such. I love them. They are hysterical. But I can't lie, sometimes I get a little jealous that that's not an option for me. Most of the time I just take a break, play with my kids and it's fine. 

(Editor's note: Guilty. We do talk about drinking a lot. And Mommy Wants Vodka is written by the hilarious, amazing and supremely talented Aunt Becky, who obviously blogs about it, too.)

Enemy #3: The Watchers
I call this group the watchers. Once it comes out that I am in recovery, they are constantly on guard against any hint that I may be drinking again. They stare so long at my eyes, face, my kids that it's insulting. Trust me, if I was drinking again YOU WOULD KNOW. I like to think that today I am doing my best to love life and live a life with grace and dignity. There would be no question in your mind if I picked up again, mainly because YOU WOULDN'T LIKE ME. I would be a loud, obnoxious, slurring, falling down so and so. 

I read somewhere that one of the biggest hurdles in having people understand or empathize with alcoholism and addiction is the fact that us alcoholics and addicts are just not likeable when we are using. I would have to agree. I was not a nice, kind, caring person while drinking. I was a selfish manipulative woman doing anything to get her next drink. Thankfully, it's been a long time since that woman was around and I have done a whole lot of work to change. I understand the fear of someone you care about relapsing, because it does happen often. But there are also an AMAZING amount of people who get sober and stay sober.

Enemy #4: Those who think I am cured
Because it has been a while since I have had a drink, there are many people (mostly family, and a few friends) who have decided I am cured. I should have no problem stopping going to the occasional meeting I am able to go to (7 kids, don't get out much), or letting go of the desire I have to befriend women who are struggling with this issue and are just getting sober. 

Part of me feels flattered and it strokes my ego to think that I seem "normal". However, with everything I have learned and seen in other recovering women I have talked to, it's just not true. I know that I have a daily reprieve from drinking. That's it. I will always be an alcoholic. The question is will I be busy living, or busy dying? To not talk to others in recovery would be foolish. That is what keeps me on the right path. I also have an obligation to give back what was so freely given to me.

Ladies, I feel like every day for me is just living in grace. To be able to be a mom at all is a miracle to me. I have found some very honest mommy blogs (Momastery, anyone?) where the author is open and honest about there own recovery journey, which I am profoundly grateful for. I submitted this because it's an important topic for women to have knowledge about. Most importantly, if you are struggling with an alcohol/drug problem yourself, please know that there is help for you. There is HOPE for you. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you. 

(c)Herding Turtles 2009 - 2013

38 comments:

  1. This is a very brave post. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  2. To be a mom to 4 kids and then add 3 more and then add people's special needs and then add recovering alcoholic to the list - WOW! You have a hard job every day, but seem to doing a great job. Good for you!! I'm pretty impressed. I hope your kids see what a good example you are. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  3. Thank you for you frank and honest post. It helps a lot to understand.

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  4. Great job! This is a wonderful and insightful post! Recovery is hard regardless. Having that many children to take care of adds a special challenge. Thanks for taking the time to post this. I'm sure there are plenty of mommies out there that could use the encouragement and support. And some that could use the reminder that everyone has issues, so stop staring, stop judging, and just be supportive. If everyone could just do that, the world would be a better place!!!

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  5. Awesome post! And so glad the series is back!

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  6. I am not in recovery, but grew up with a parent who is. Thank you so much for your honesty here. People will praise you for your courage, but I think that being open and honest about being in recovery is more about being courageous, it's more acknowledging that this is a part of you that will never change, like being gay or bisexual or being adhd/autistic yourself. Only a lot less socially acceptable.

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  7. Thanks Annie, this was a great post. Keep up the good work!

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  8. Recovering addict mom here! My biggest goal with raising my son is to have him turn out as differently from me as possible. The challenge is to not pressure him so much that it drives him to drugs!

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    1. I can say with certainty, without having ever met you, that you have redeeming qualities that your son would be lucky to inherit. Try not to be so hard on yourself! The past is over and you are kicking ass in the present in many ways I'm sure so ::HUG:: good job, Momma :)

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    2. My ex-sister-in-law and mother of my teenage niece is a recovering alcoholic. She's doing awesome and her daughter is proof. At a teenage party a girl was pressuring her to have a drink, "come on, are you chicken, churchy, what's wrong". My niece stood up and announced, "No, but my mother is an alcoholic, so no thanks." She got a round of applause from her friends, most of whom weren't drinking and an aplogy from the girl. That was a proud moment for my ex-sister-in-law and our whole family. Kids do what is right and you are setting a great example. Be happy and be proud!

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  9. The inner strength of this mommy is wonderful. To have gone through such a great number of challenges (multiple births, special needs, single-motherhood, remarriage, stepmotherhood - the list continues) and to just have such awareness and perspective about her needs and those of her family is so commendable. Mommies salute you, with or without a drink in their hands!

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  10. You are a brave hand amazing mommy. You go girl!

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  11. Really wonderful post. I was fine right up until the last few sentences; now I have to blink a lot to keep from crying at work. Thank you for everything that you do.

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  12. Thank you so much for this post! I am madly in deep like with my new mommy friend who is a recovering alcoholic and I have been given such insight from this. You saved me from making myself look stupid or insensitive! YAY!

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  13. You, sweet, honest lady, are AWESOME! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. My kids are tough, very tough. My husband couldn't handle it if he had to stay home with them all day. However, he thinks telling me things like "I can't believe you are not a raging alcoholic" is a compliment. Hello? I grew up with a raging alcoholic. For some reason alcohol just doesn't taste that good to me. Also, one of my good Mommy friends (son's best friend's Mommy) is in recovery. When the going got tough(er) for her, I found the best thing I could do was take her kids off her hands for a while to give her a break and a chance to get to a meeting. I am sorry there isn't someone in your life who can do that. Good luck!

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  14. My husband has been sober for almost 20 years now so my kids are growing up with one sober parent and one non-sober parent. My life is richer for my husband's strength and insight and our kids have a great dad. This is a great post that lines up with the way my husband lives. And your family is super lucky to have you.

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  15. I wish you only the best of luck on your recovery journey!

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  16. Such a brave post! <3 Much love!

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  17. This is an amazing post and I am so glad you shared this with us. I'm also so happy that the Domestic Enemies series is back! Helps me walk in other mom's shoes, which I think can only make me a better mom and overall person.

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  18. Dude! Bravo for posting this! In case no one told you today, you're a great mom!

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  19. Blessings to you, Annie. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. Keep on keepin' on.

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  20. I am married to a 'newbie.' My husband is an alcoholic and has been sober for 7 weeks. Sometimes it is hard with 2 toddlers to not want a drink at the end of the day. But in many ways I now have to live a completely sober life to assist him on his road to recovery. You are so brave for posting this and being so transparent with the world! You go Mama! You rock!

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  21. Thank you for writing this! I feel like it has some lessons, that can be transferred to mommies and non-mommies alike. :)

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  22. Thanks for helping us understand and your willingness to be open with us. I'm proud of your accomplishments. Keep up the fight!

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  23. Way to go, Annie! Thanks for showing us a glimpse of your life today!

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  24. Great post - as the child-grandchild-cousin of alcoholics, and the wife of a man who just celebrated 22 years clean and sober - I can tell you that your sobriety is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your kids.
    I too have noted the frequent references to T-boxes and Frodka!! These things can have a healthy place in a mom's life - but it was refreshing to hear the other voice.
    Because alcoholism and depression seen to be our family diseases, we have had many opportunities to talk about these topics with our (now) teenage kids. Knowledge is power. Thanks!

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  25. Wonderful post! My father was an alcoholic who died three years before his first grandchild was born. It is sad, but I am glad that drunken dad is not around my baby. He never would have stopped, in his mind, he was 'entitled' to drink. I'm glad you took responsibility for your addiction and tried to be a better person for your family. You have an amazing strength that i cannot even fathom! You are one of the women who change history.

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  26. What an excellent post! As the daughter of a recovering alcoholic (and cousin and niece to another 3), I know how important talking about this and other addictions is. Secrecy is the worst and I am thankful that my family (which obviously carries the gene) talks about it openly and has done since I was a child. Thank you!

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  27. Hugs to you for honesty, and thanks for bringing back the DE series. I still often think of Tara and send her blessings for her brave post that unleashed such a storm. Once again I am enriched by "knowing" you all.

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  28. Thank you for being brave and honest and funny.

    Sometimes I 'watch' RA moms, but not for relapse. I'm watching because I have my own struggles (depression, etc) and I want to know how on earth they are surmounting their own with such strength and grace.

    I must admit, though, I still don't know what to do about my husband's not-quite-recovering-addict cousin. She's obviously lying (you can hear it in her voice), but she backs up all her stories just enough that I can't call her out for it. And she's always asking for money. I feel like "helping" wouldn't really be helping, you know? I just don't know what to do. She has legitimate struggles and a legitimate desire to overcome them, but she can't yet, I guess. I need some advice on how not to be a giant twatface in this situation...

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  29. I am not an alcoholic, however I am "sober"...what I mean by that is my doctors and I both agree that even an *occasional* drink would send me to an even *earlier* grave.
    I have many physical problems and am very sickly, the main concern being my kidneys, who do not take well to alcohol.
    So I *kind of* understand the whole abstaining thing when going to a social event where everyone else's version of having fun includes being at least tipsy >.< That and my husband's entire family except him are complete alcoholics, and are thus NEVER allowed to be near my child unsupervised, or in charge of driving her/us anywhere. They think that after TWO hard alcoholic drinks they are still "ok to drive" OMG NO!!!!!
    I believe I haven't once seen them without a drink in their hands in the last 5 years that I have known them...and now his step-mother is on anti-depressants and thinks it's still cool to be drunk all the time? Um...no.
    I miss being able to drink sometimes, and that sucks, but then I remember that reaching my forties is SO much better than having fun in my twenties >.<

    This bothers me so much because they are also HUGE pushers...I think that they think that if *everyone*is drunk then no one will realize how bad it is...
    So of course I hate being around them and being pressured to have "just a little bit" and I refuse over and over again, "NO, not even 'a sip' thank you" because I value my health, which is more important now that I have a little girl, and a kidney infection is just never worth that *one* drink.
    I am kinda bitter about the fact that they now have flavors like "S'Mores" and "Marshmallow" and "Cake" vodka that they didn't have when I quit drinking ;(
    they would have made me *SO* happy :,(

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  30. I am a teacher and am aware (through relationships I have built with families) that over the years, I have had parents in recovery. I imagine all teachers do with time, known or not. Thank you for helping me learn a little more about treating folks with the specific kindness and grace they deserve.

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  31. I was the child of an alcoholic dad, who had violence issues when he drank, which was ALL THE TIME! Eventually my father lost his battle with the drink and is now at least eternally resting. Even so, even after all the "trauma" of my childhood, I could forgive my father for the person he couldn't be and the person he was.

    I guess my point is, I truly commend the steps you made in making sure your children never have to witness that side of you. Comming from a child that only witnessed that side of my father, I can tell you that it means the world to people like me that your children will never truly appreciate the gift that you are able to give them.

    I am also very greatful that regardless of what the "nay sayers" say, you strive to help those around you who are still struggling. My father didn't have people around him to support him and help him see what he was doing. If he had friends like you who were brave enough to extend a hand, then his life might have turned out differently. So thank you on all levels.

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  32. Awesome blog. So glad my browser scrolled it up.

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  33. This is what I am looking for. You share the same story with a person who is close to me. She also suffered from being an alcoholic when she had her first kid and as she have said, it was really hard to recover and go back to being sober. As I was reading the "domestic enemies" thing that you have indicated on your post, I came to realize what makes it hard for a person to just become fully-recovered from alcohol.

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  34. Thanks for this post! I am recently married without kids and I am a newly recovering alcoholic. The prospect of having children with an alcoholic is a very frightening though to my husband. We are working through it but this post made me feel like I can like its possible. Thanks!

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  35. Thank you thank you for posting this. I am new-ish in recovery (1.5 yrs, this time around), newly married, new mom, and I feel the same way that you do about the mommy blogs. I LOVE them, and I read them all the time, but I totally get the "not being an option" feeling. Just to know that there are others out there like me lightens the load just a little. Kudos for your honesty and bravery.

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  36. Hello Annie,

    My mom was hooked on heroine for many years.
    She finally beat it. She passed on a few years ago.
    How she raised us three boys, I'll never know.

    She was as brave and strong as you are.
    Bless you for not giving up on your kids
    and yourself.

    You're the real deal when it comes
    to being a strong mom.

    Keep up the great work!

    Clyde McDade
    Writer

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