Like any other Mom, I love my children fiercely.
Honestly, the depth of the feeling cannot really be put into words.
The two happiest days of my life were the days they came into this world.
I looked into their faces and vowed to do my best to protect them in every way possible.
Unfortunately the hardest thing I faced was trying to be a mother and an addict at the same time.
I knew the day I left my ex that it was going to get ugly.
But I had no idea that it would turn into the battle it did….
Life as a Mother, and an Addict-
When I began my travel down the road to addiction with an eating disorder, I never thought it would end with me checking into treatment for prescription meds and alcohol use.
For a long time I knew that I was playing with fire when it came to drugs and alcohol.
I knew that I wasn’t like the other people I partied with. I always took it to a different level.
This was something I knew, but never wanted to admit.
Even when bad things started to happen, or when my family started to show concern.
I ignored them and continued on.
For the duration of my marriage I was what is called a “high functioning addict”.
I was able to keep a job, pay my bills, care for my children, cook meals, do laundry.
However, keeping up the guise of normal was exhausting both mentally and physically.
I went to the doctor a lot telling them that I was sick, and trying to find a reason why I felt so bad; unfortunately I never told them the whole story.
For me everyday was a struggle. (and when I say struggle, I mean it.)
Constantly trying to balance work, kids, relationships, and an addiction isn’t for the faint of heart, mind you.
But for a period of time, I managed.
Of course, on the outside my life looked normal, for the most part. My kids were well taken care of.
I read books on parenting and child development.
I had a bedtime routine we read stories every night.
I took them to the park, to birthday parties-you know normal things parents do with their children.
I tried to be the best mom I could.
Addiction made that difficult, and at the end, impossible.
It’s crazy what you can live with when you don’t know any better.
I had no idea how much anxiety I lived with physically and emotionally. I had heard about it, but for some reason never felt like it applied to me-(this is ironic, to say the least. I literally oozed tension and stress.)
In treatment I was forced to feel, face, and seek help for this anxiety.
Before treatment I found a solution in a substance or behavior and that worked but the relief it provided got shorter and shorter. Eventually, there was no relief no matter how much I used or drank- it didn’t work anymore.
The last 3 years before treatment I could not get high or drunk anymore. The feeling evaded me.
The only reason I used at this point was to be able to function, to feel “NORMAL” .
I got sick if I tried to not use.
Miserable is putting it lightly when I talk about getting sick.
I had only known my ex husband for 5 months before we got married. We got married because I unexpectedly got pregnant. I was told by friends and family that I didn’t have to marry him but I did it anyways. I felt like he was all I deserved.
I knew he had issues with alcohol and drugs but I hoped things would change after the baby was born. What I wasn’t prepared for was how drastically he changed and the person he became. It started with a small shove here, an insult there. I kept telling myself it would change and get better.
It didn’t take long for the violence and emotional abuse to escalate.
I could go into gory details but I choose not too. I feel it is more important to focus on the future. In the end, the fact is, we both made mistakes and had poor judgement.
After six years I vividly remember the moment when I had had enough. I couldn’t do it anymore.
The havoc left in the wake of domestic abuse and substance abuse was blatantly obvious at this point.
My children were innocent victims in this whole F@#$%D up situation and I decided it was time to leave.
I packed a couple of suitcases grabbed the important documents and moved back in with my parents.
The Downward Spiral-
Before I moved home I don’t think my parents realized just how bad the situation was.
They kept encouraging me to go to counseling. I did what I always do, please other people, and went to counseling.
It didn’t help, but I have to be honest and say I put no effort into therapy.
I was done. I was not going back to that marriage ever.
The kids stayed with me, and for a while, things were okay.
That was the first 2 months and then I fell apart.
I no longer put limits on when I could use.
I had held it together for seven years, I pulled out the stops and fell apart in a matter of months.
My using spiraled out of control. I was in full-blown addiction, I did not have a good grasp on reality. I blamed everyone and everything else for my problems.
I tried so hard for 6 months to stop using I went to 12-step meetings every day, I had a sponsor.
But the reality is I couldn’t stop.
I got so sick, and this meant that no matter how bad I wanted to get sober I just couldn’t do it.
I can’t put into words how much I hated and despaired having to wake up in the morning. Honestly I wished that I would just not wake up, and that maybe I would be lucky enough to die.
I did not want to have to face another day of hurting those I loved the most.
Finally I had a moment of clarity:
I called my sponsor and asked her if she thought maybe going to treatment would be a good idea. She said it helped her. That was the hope I needed if she could do this so could I. In treatment I would have the supervision I needed to stop.
I called a treatment center at 9 AM on July 29th 2014.
By 5 PM that day I was on my way to treatment and to a new life.
I was terrified but at this point anything was better than where I was.
I knew that they would help me medically detox from the prescription drugs and alcohol. Turns out you can die by just stopping cold turkey benzo’s and alcohol cold turkey.
Getting Clean Didn’t Make All My Problems Go Away-
My first week of addiction treatment was spent in bed asleep I got up to maybe eat and get my vitals checked or take meds. After six days I got up and took a shower and started the process of putting my life back together starting with me. I went to my groups, I went to my individual sessions and I threw myself into getting better. Having had a taste of not having to use I wanted sobriety and I was willing to do whatever it took.
My first treatment center like so many across the US could only get me coverage to stay for 30 days. Come on let’s just put this in perspective I had spent 16 years destroying my life and 30 days is supposed to cure me and have me ready to deal with life. The reality is I was still testing positive on my drug screenings as benzo’s are stored in the fat and take a long time to get out of your system. I had been using Xanax, and Clonopin for 3 years I was still having significant side effects from them and seriously I was an emotional train wreck. . But my insurance felt I was ready for a half way.
I thank God that I knew I wasn’t ready I was terrified of going back to the bottomless hell that my life had been while using. So I asked for more inpatient treatment. They found it to this day I am so grateful that I had those extra 5 months of Partial Hospitalization it saved my life. The healing that took place could not have happened in any other setting. I had intense therapy to treat the emotional pain and trauma that had followed me for so many years.
I finished this program moved to a halfway house and got a job. This is when I started to really see that I could do this. My sponsor worked with and I began to work my way through the steps. I continued an Intensive Outpatient program and eventually moved onto seeing an individual therapist. I will not sit here and tell you this was easy. It wasn’t it was a lot of hard work. A Lot of tears, and a lot of emotions. But I got through it.
I knew I wasn’t ready to be a mom yet, but as I continued to improve and accomplish things sober I knew I was getting closer.
My ex didn’t trust me. He believed that addicts couldn’t get clean and stay clean. He has told me many times that once an alcoholic/addict always one. Based on his thinking, I was a danger to our children, and always would be.
The irony here is he didn’t even care for the children full time until just a couple of months ago. His parents did the caretaking. Somehow he also seemed to have a blind spot not remembering the domestic violence somehow that was ok. But me being an addict was’nt. He did anything and everything to limit and control my contact with my children. To this day every day I have to request through text or a phone call to speak with my children.
Really!!!! Are you F&*$ing kidding me. It’s exhausting and sometimes I don’t feel like doing this. It has been a year and a half. He has no legal order limiting my contact with the children. This doesn’t change the fact that he knows this is the only way he can hurt me anymore.
In the end I just have to keep my side of the street clear. I keep doing the right thing I go to meetings, see my therapist and do the best I can with what I have.
I have a custody hearing in May and I am nervous to say the least. The only prayer I have is that God’s will be done whatever it may be. It will always be in the best interest of the children that is what I really want and at this point I will accept the outcome.
You see the thing that recovery has taught me is that I don’t know what is best. My plans don’t really take into consideration the big picture. God or my “higher power” has a way of always having the best outcome happen. I can take comfort in this and I do. Its gotten me this far.
Don’t get me wrong there was a time where I really thought I was going to lose my kids that it didn’t matter that I had done the right thing and gotten treatment. The thing is even when I was faced with my biggest fear in sobriety. I stayed sober. And at this point I still have a chance of getting partial custody.
In the end my life is amazing compared to what it was a year and a half ago. I am alive I wake up happy in the morning looking forward to my day not dreading it. I have contact with my kids and things are continuing to improve.
I have a job that I love and people in my life that love and support me. This is more than I could have asked for before. My family is back in my life and I am building relationships with them again. I am grateful for each day. Today I can deal with life as they say on life’s terms. I have coping skills and have healed from trauma that I never thought would be possible.
Today I choose to live.
Rose Landes is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.