By Cindy Coloma
Marie stared down into her glass of seltzer water, poking a lime with her straw. She smiled weakly while the other women from the office ordered another round of drinks.
“Cheers!” yelled Cynthia, holding up a glass. “Here’s to Friday and some special time just for mommy!” The bar erupted in cheers. Marie didn’t hold her glass up to toast, although no one noticed. She had known the second she sat down this was a bad idea. She’d felt off balance since returning to work. Although everyone was supportive of her recent stay in rehab, Marie knew that she no longer fit in here. In fact, she was having a hard time finding where she fit into her old life at all.
Marie’s mom was just trying to help when she encouraged Marie to indulge in a night out with the girls from work. But the truth was, it was hard enough reconnecting with her own kids, let alone her colleagues.
Marie glanced down at her phone and noted the time. If she hurried, she could catch a support meeting across town. She gathered her purse and quickly said goodbye, then Marie headed toward the door. She was determined to fight for a better way to navigate this new life, and that fight started right now.
You’re Not Alone
Do you ever feel alone in your struggle to balance your recovery and your relationships? Research shows that an estimated 5.3 million women in the United States drink in a way that threatens their health, safety and general well-being.1 In short, you’re not alone in your struggle to live a healthy balance. The road to recovery can feel lonely and overwhelming at times.
As a woman in recovery, there are many difficulties you may face. Here are a few common ones:
- Guilt: It’s common to feel guilty for missing out on your kids’ lives if you’ve spent time in treatment. You might also feel guilty that your kids are missing out on their old life because you have to focus on your new life of recovery. You need additional time for meetings and self-care, while saying no to some things that may have been routine in your children’s lives in the past.
- Honesty: How honest is too honest when it comes to the little ones in your life? Having to explain your addiction to your kids can be terrifying, especially if you feel it’s your job to shield them from everything painful in life. But many people in recovery believe that just because a topic is unpleasant doesn’t mean it should be avoided. In fact, some argue that addressing questions with age-appropriate, honest answers keeps kids from making up their own answers that can be harmful for their future.2
- Identity: The “I’m a hot mess” mom might sound cool right now. In an environment that celebrates an alcohol-infused “mom life” as a way to cope with stress, it’s tough saying no. Deciding and knowing who you are and how you want to live is an important part of recovery. It also helps you teach your children how to be individualistic under peer pressure.
- Shame: Feeling incredible shame and guilt about your addiction is actually part of the process. Working through those feelings and facing them head on is difficult. It takes time to learn to have empathy and compassion for yourself. But letting go of shame and guilt is essential to become the person that you want to be.2
Counteracting Stress With Self-Care
We hear advice about self-care all the time, but what does that actually look like when you’re moving from treatment to sober living? Here are just a few practical ways to take care of yourself and remind you of the bigger picture.
- Keep a journal. Write down what you’re grateful for and record accomplishments, including small ones, that you’re proud of. Research has shown that those who write about gratitude may be more optimistic and may feel better about their lives.3
- Give yourself permission to say no. Saying no to invitations, stressful relationships or extracurricular activities may be a good idea for a while. Focus on your recovery now, and it will be better for everyone in the long run.
- Practice relaxation daily. Find things that relax you and work them into your routine. Activities such as meditation, reading, painting or singing may help you relax and focus on the positive.
- Take care of your body. Become diligent about getting plenty of sleep and nourish your body with good food and lots of water. While we know that exercise is good for your health, it’s also a great way to alleviate stress. Taking care of your physical health is essential to your recovery.
One Day at a Time
Recovery is about embracing the process and taking it one day at a time. You’re probably doing better than you think. Sometimes we tend to see only what’s in front of us instead of looking at the big picture. Soon you will create a new normal for yourself and your family, and the hard work will be worth it.
If you are struggling and need encouragement and resources on your journey, call the Life + Challenge office at 615-221-5861. Our team can walk you through issues you may be facing after treatment.
1 “Women and Drinking.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Accessed March 27, 2018.
1 “As a Mom in Recovery, How Do I Explain My Addiction to My Kids?” Huffington Post. July 9 2014.
1 “In Praise of Gratitude.” Harvard Health Publishing. Accessed March 28, 2018.