The following article is a guest post by Julie Maida, founder of the Sober Mommies blog.
I was extremely honored when Jennifer asked me to contribute a post to Crossroads about the Sober Mommies blog. She asked me to write about how and why I started the blog, and I struggled a bit. There are so many amazing reasons to list; I didn’t know where to start. Of course, the obvious reasons- the wonderful sense of community and support the site provides to women, and combatting the terrible stigma the word “addiction” still carries. I tried to come up with the words to describe the fierce motivation behind what has become one of my favorite things in the whole world.
And then I received a submission from a stranger, named Shanna.
Not unlike me, Shanna had an abusive relationship with alcohol. As the mother of twin boys, she did her best to balance the loves of her life. As I read her story, something inside of me cried, “Me too!” Alcoholism and motherhood is not a glamorous match. At least it was not in my case, and in many of the stories I’ve heard over the years.
I did my best to weigh my motherly responsibilities against the tormenting fury of my addiction. I made promises the first time I looked upon my daughter’s face that I had every intention of keeping. Before alcohol, I had not met anything with the power to pull me away.
Shanna’s story is mine. In the midst of my alcoholism, I gave up custody of my little girl. I handed her over to her father, and felt relief. I knew that I could not be a full-time mother and drink the way that I wanted to. The problem was simply that I always drank that way. When I drink, I give up the power to say “enough,” and surrender to whatever consequences result. I did not make those choices because I was a terrible mother, or a horrible person. I made those choices because I was sick with the disease of alcoholism. When I wasn’t drinking, I was thinking about drinking. There was no foreseeable “out,” and placed blame wherever I could.
I got sober a year after I gave up the rights to my daughter, and I was sober for ten years before she was back under my roof full time. I cannot tell you the shame I felt for not being able to keep all of those promises to my daughter. For many years, I could not bring myself to tell anyone about the choice I had made. It was my secret, and it disabled me. I could not, or would not risk the judgment I knew I would receive. I told myself that no one could possible understand, and I believed it.
We do not talk about these things.
It wasn’t until I read Shanna’s story that I was able to fully comprehend the tremendous power that is, Sober Mommies. Every single time I read and identify with another woman’s journey, it quiets that voice inside my head that says,
“You suck. No one will ever understand you.”
Sometimes I don’t or can’t understand what’s in my heart until I hear you say it out loud. Then and only then can I acknowledge it and heal, wrapped in the support of your experience. The details of your story may differ from mine, but we are connected in a beautiful and unique way. I believe that connection should be acknowledged and celebrated.
Sober Mommies is a safe place to bring whoever you are and whatever you’ve done and say it out loud. It’s a place where we can meet, connect and share, and encourage each other with what I believe to be the two most powerful words in any language, “Me too.”
- Come visit and share with us at www.sobermommies.com
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Julie Maida has been sober since May of 2000, and lives in the Boston area with her husband and three children. She founded the Sober Mommies blog in May of 2013, and it has quickly become one of her favorite things in the whole world. With the perfect combination of humor and honesty, the women of Sober Mommies address life on its terms and the realities of sober motherhood; while inviting women to identify and empower themselves by sharing their own experiences.