I sat on my bed trying to focus my eyes on the pregnancy stick I was holding but it was just not happening. I was still drunk from the night before. I extended my arm and was now seeing double. Yep, I was pregnant. My boyfriend was still asleep so I decided to walk to the store and buy, ya know, 12 more pregnancy tests.
I can vividly recall telling myself, “If I’m pregnant, of course, I’ll quit drinking and using! And it will be so easy because of…duh…the baby.”
Turns out, I was wrong.
Imagine going from a decade of relying heavily on drugs and alcohol to cope with every up and down and then abruptly take that singular coping skill away and replace it with pregnancy hormones. AAH! I was a complete shit-show. I had so many unhealed issues that I had been stuffing for years and now they were coming to the surface and I didn’t know how to navigate any of them. There was lots of crying and throwing of Sharpies. Yes, just Sharpies. I would get pissed and really want to wreck some shit but I didn’t want to hurt anyone or any thing in my house so I’d stomp around until I could find some Sharpies and then I threw ’em on the grouuuuund! Ugh. I was grieving hard for my vices.
I’m a performer so during my pregnancy I had a lot of singing gigs. The pregnant belly was a huge saving grace for my transition out of drinking during my bar gigs. Normally, fans will buy the band drinks all night. But not when you’re pregnant because that would make you an asshole. I’m so grateful that I had those months, working in bars when no one offered me a drink.
Then the big beautiful day came and our son was born. By this point I had been going to counseling, I’d hit a couple meetings, I was having lots of good days, my body was handling pregnancy like a champ, and I had an incredibly fast all-natural birth at a local birthing center.
We were so happy! And then, postpartum depression set in. I’d never experienced hopelessness like this. Even in my years of substance use, I maintained a resiliency. As an addict, I didn’t want to die…I just wanted a really long break from reality. But this…this was different. I felt despair. There I was with my new cute baby and all I could do was cry. A week after his birth my in-laws offered to babysit for an hour so we could get a little break. I had just stayed sober for 10 months, my personal record, so clearly I wasn’t an alcoholic, right? What did we do during this hour long break? We went to get a drink! And there I was, right back in full on addiction. For the next couple months, my drinking slowly progressed. The PPD vanished after about 2 weeks but the booze stayed. I had tiny bottles of wine hidden in my socks. Whenever someone wanted to come see the baby I would ask them to bring wine with them. It was embarrassing but it was all I knew.
Now my son was four months old and lo and behold, I got pregnant again. Both of these pregnancies were planned, believe it or not, but they also both happened much more quickly than expected. This time things had to be different. The way I was “functioning” was not sustainable and I knew I was on the brink of losing everything and I couldn’t bear to lose a child.
I tried something different. I started doing the opposite of my first thought for nearly a year! I joined a womens only NA group. I had no female friends at the time so this was way out of comfort zone and exactly what I needed to change course. I didn’t fake happiness at meetings. I was miserable and it showed. But I was also surrendering and that changed everything.
Surrender isn’t about giving up. Surrender is about Letting Go.
I started letting go of what was no longer serving me. I worked the 12 steps like my life depended on it. Because it did. I connected with people and asked for help. I read tons of personal development books and tried every healing tool suggested. Slowly but surely the layers of pain began peeling away. I felt lighter. I felt like maybe, just maybe, I could have a life full of joy that I didn’t need to escape from.
I have been clean and sober for five and a half years now. (Sobriety date is 9-22-11) My kiddos are 5 and 6. They are healthy, smart, silly, and they have a fully present Mom who is always there for them. My healing journey will never end. Each year it up levels and it’s so fun now. My “problems” today are in a whole other world compared to what I used to fear. Today I am a certified holistic health coach, a motivational speaker, a friend, a singer, a loving partner, and most importantly – a Mother. A present and purposeful Mother.
The stigma and judgment around this topic is keeping too many women trapped in shame. That needs to end so that we can overcome. I met a lot of women in recovery who could not stop using throughout pregnancy and were living with deep guilt around that. I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. Pregnancy doesn’t replace or instantly rid addiction. It’s a major challenge but help is out there waiting for you, begging for you to reach out! I distinctly remember the feeling of not knowing how I could possibly go 1 week without using. And now, I can’t imagine risking my incredible life by picking up again.
Change is possible! You are deeply worthy of healing and becoming the woman and mother that you came here to be! Recovery is a beautiful part of the journey and so much help is available. I’m so grateful that I finally committed to healing and seeing how beautiful my life could become.
I have turned my Pain into my Purpose.
Now it’s your turn, Love.
Find additional resources at: sobermommies.com and soulrecovery.org