On January 5, 1986 I had an epiphany. I decided to quit playing around and emptied the last of my beer down the drain to see if getting sober and this twelve step thing was going to work for me or not.
I lived in dirty, gritty old NYC back then. With very limited funds and no family support, all I could do was go to as many meetings as I could. That first year was rough as I learned to navigate a new life away from bars and clubs. I really don’t know where I’d be now without that initial support now. In Manhattan & Brooklyn, it was easy enough to get to 2 or 3 meetings a day, even though I worked.
And then there were the meetings after the meetings – usually in the neighborhood diners – and the sober clubs that were just as important as the meetings themselves.
I moved to Florida in 1994. It’s never really been the same here. Being a busy homeschooling & special needs mom with chronic health concerns there just wasn’t a lot of extra time or energy to drive 20 miles to get to a meeting at the end of the day.
For the past two decades I was focused on raising my kids and homeschooling. It’s been a mixed bag. I did it with the best of intentions & don’t regret it, but it became toxic to me over the years. I grew tired of the politics, lack of inclusiveness to the special needs kids and the rigid theological positions on issues I considered grey areas and not essentials.
I always felt like I was hiding “the real me” away. Trying to act like a good Christian and fit with the evangelical crowd didn’t work too well for me. With so much old baggage to deal with, not having a safe space to talk was one of the worst things I could have done.
I feel like I need to refocus now and continue the healing work. I want to find my spiritual roots again….the gospel of grace that got lost for me in a sea of good intentions that went sour.
Recovery looks different for me today and means embracing new modalities such as:
*Extreme self care
*Writing, blogging & everything that goes along with it. (Yea! My brain still works!)
*Daily dog therapy
*Ongoing Practice of steps 10, 11 and 12
I’m really happy to see the online recovery community taking off. The time is right for this and for women in long term recovery to come out of the closet to carry the message that no, Mommy doesn’t need wine to survive it all. It’s very doable and dare I say even joyful to live alcohol free.
Many of us need (in my case, have needed!) an alternative to rigid 12 step dogma. We may have life circumstances that prevent us from maintaining a presence in the rooms like we once did but that doesn’t mean we’re headed for relapse as long as we continue the necessary spiritual work.
She remembered who she was and the game changed. – Lalah Delia
Going back to NYC a few years ago reminded me of where I came from and what I’ve overcome. I was reminded that even in the worst of times, God always had my back.
But I still struggle with a few things.
Depression, it’s always crouched at the door and it’s still a daily decision not to feed the bad wolf.
Beating myself up enough over the years for not being
*the perfect homeschool mom
*the Down Syndrome supermom who was able to finagle a fantastic environment of inclusion for her child
*a Twelve Step guru
I’ve been a sober mom and that is enough.
I thought I was doing good to stay away from bars and clubs but the game has changed and I always have to be vigilant. Temptation pops up in unexpected places now, like walking through the supermarket or Target and unexpectedly getting offered a wine sample. It’s completely acceptable for moms and women of a certain age to go out for pub crawls and alcohol fueled meet ups. And then there’s the endless marketing of wine to women because “we deserve it.”
It’s still one day at a time.
With meetings so spread out here and my complicated life it’s always to be hard to find local support. I’m holding on to the hope that I’ll find my tribe in this new season of life.
Much love and warm thanks to the communities of She Recovers, Sober Mommies, Lara Frazier and Sober Señorita for helping me to revisit my earlier years in sobriety and to do some very necessary healing work.