Hello, my name is Lee Ann and I am a Mother in Recovery.
Being a Mother is one of the greatest gifts in the world. I lost both my parents at nine years old and all I ever wanted was to be the Mother I never had. I had started dating young having my first serious boyfriend at the age of fourteen, we were young and in love. He was quite a bit older, by five years, we planned to have kids young and got pregnant with our daughter almost right away.
At the age of sixteen, I was living with my foster mom and I was so scared to tell her I was pregnant. When I did, she explained to me my options. For me, there was only one option, to have my baby. That’s all I ever wanted was to have a ‘normal family’. One that stayed together…forever and that was our plan.
At the time I was a weekend drinker and tried a few party drugs but honestly, I feared drugs but loved the feeling alcohol gave me. I was also a smoker, once I found I was pregnant though I quit everything. Food became my new drug! Let’s just say my daughter was a healthy 9 pounds 2 ounces and the most beautiful precious thing I ever saw.
I was instantly in love. I remember I was staying with my cousin at the time because we lived in a logging camp I needed to be in a town where my doctor was, and she told me I was going to spoil her because I never put her down. No such thing, lol.
“It stops here,” I whispered to my newborn baby girl, as I promised my daughter that she would never have to grow up in an alcoholic home.
But raising a baby at seventeen was so hard and I felt so alone. I had a lot of books but no real support. I missed my Mom. After six weeks of breastfeeding, I could drink again. First, it started with weekend drinks and blackouts, then turned into weeknight glasses of wine because a wine was acceptable, and I could hide how much I drank.
So often I would feel guilt and shame around my drinking but would never admit it to anyone, especially my partner. We decided it was time to have another baby when our daughter Celleste was two years old. Once again, we got pregnant right away only this time the pregnancy tests from the drugstore turned out negative.
I knew I was pregnant but because those tests showed negative I kept drinking and smoking marijuana. Finally, the fourth test was by a doctor and showed positive. I was quite far along in my pregnancy and had been using the whole time. I remember feeling scared and that something might be wrong however I didn’t stop. I just hid the amount I drank and stopped smoking again.
I went to visit my grandparents for a week and whenever I would visit them I would help by cleaning their home. I remember my family telling me I should take it easy and I didn’t listen. After a few days, I started spotting and felt pain in my abdomen. I had a miscarriage. I was shocked and devastated. I was so scared to tell my husband as I felt it was all my fault.
When I got home I didn’t talk about it to anyone. I felt way too guilty and so full of shame. Instead, I went into a depression and isolated myself in our home, stuffing my feelings as far down as they could go. Work became a great escape along with more drinking.
Even though the Doctor recommended for us to wait we tried again and for the third time got pregnant right away. This time I did not use any alcohol or drugs, I learned my lesson. I just ate a lot and gained a lot of weight. Our son was born a healthy ten pounds two ounces!!
I was so happy! I finally had my perfect little family a girl and a boy. Except that it wasn’t perfect. Having two young children, a partner that works long hours, no family, no Mom to call when things got hard, living in a logging camp, 21 years old, little support and postpartum depression. This time, I started drinking before I even stopped breastfeeding.
My Alcoholism progressed fast this time, my mother in law showed real concern and I didn’t care. I was having fun, being a Mom was hard and it felt like the only time I could have fun was drinking, only it was blackout drunk every time and so much more shame and guilt. When my best friend and I started drinking and driving she decided it was time to quit.
I tried so hard to support her and so I would hide it, everyone knew better. I couldn’t stop. We then moved into a town, bought a house, got a new job, my husband was now gone camping on the weekdays and home on weekends, by this time we were fighting terribly. I wanted out so bad but by this time we were married, and I took my vows seriously, so I stayed.
Until one night we went out to a bar, I didn’t grow up around bars, so this was new and exciting, only it started with me getting too drunk, acting like a complete fool. He left me at the bar, thank God he took the keys and a taxi because I was going to drive, someone drove me home and I completely lost it. I did and said a lot of things that I regret and told him I wanted a divorce.
When I woke up I felt the lowest of lows a vowed to get help, to save our marriage. I did not want my children to grow up in a broken home as I did. No way, I would do anything to stop this from happening, even stop drinking. I got counselling right away, I was going to fix this.
I got sober and four years later I left my family and ran away from our home. Eventually, I started drinking again. My drinking progressed quickly, and eventually I picked up drugs. It took away all the pain I felt not having my children with me, in my head, they were better off with their father because he had a stable family and I did not.
As much as I wanted to have a perfect family, I did not know how to be a Mom without my own mother.
Addiction runs deep in my family and I never wanted to be like ‘them’. Only I was them and the only way out of this cycle, was to suurender to the truth.Addiction brought me to my knees and to the rooms of a 12 step fellowship. After fours years of being in and out of the rooms, I eventually stayed. The pain of aaddiction had become far greater than the fear of change. I surrendered to the program and writing the steps
The first memory I have of sharing with another Mother the truth of how I felt deep down inside of failing my children, I felt this thousand-pound weight lifted off my shoulders as she said: “Me too”. No judgement, just that she had the same feelings as me. I wasn’t alone anymore! How amazing was that?! For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel alone as a Mother.
As I stay in recovery I continue to write the steps and see my childhood for what it was, acknowledge the pain and heal from it. I love being clean, I love being a Mother. I’ve been able to repair my relationship with my children. I have also been able to forgive my parents, grandparents and myself. I have embraced my culture, no more shame of being an aboriginal woman. I am pursuing my education at NVIT and learning so much about my history and why there is so much pain and suffering. I am teaching my children that it’s ok to talk about their feelings, passing on what I have learned here as I recover.
I love Mothers Recovery Tribe!!! To me, “tribe” means “my people” and these mothers are my people. These are the women that have been missing all of my life. I cannot explain the bond and connection that we share, I can only feel it. The vulnerability of sharing with another mother our truth, our shame and our hopes for the future of our families is so powerful and healing. WE ARE NOT ALONE! We are in this together as Mothers in Recovery we stand strong, supporting one another with unconditional love.
As I write my story today, my children are here in my home visiting me to celebrate my five year birthday milestone in my 12 step fellowship. They are now twenty-five and twenty-nine years old. I’ve missed a lot of their lives, but I am grateful for all the life we have ahead of us. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come as a family. We are not perfect, but we all recovering and doing the best can with what we have. We are all healing today, together.
My own struggles have taught me to understand that my grandparents did the best they could with what they had and my parents did the best they could with what they had and I did the best I could with what I had. We didn’t have very much. Today, there's no shame – only forgiveness, compassion, love and HOPE. I hope my story will teach my children the power of shame, not asking for help and addiction, but also the way out through recovery. I still have hope in the words I whispered to my daughter that day, “It stops here.” I know today that we all have a story to share, our lives are valuable and our stories of hope in recovery are worth telling.
I could never have done this alone nor would I want to. Today I am grateful to have a choice and I choose support. I know I need other mothers, to be the best mother I can be.
I hope my mother would be proud of me. Yes, I made mistakes, but I recovered.
Mother’s Recovery Tribe Society exists to empower mothers on ALL paths of recovery with the strength and courage found in each other. MRT needs financial support to continue to provide and increase access to these critical resources for mothers in recovery from addiction, poverty, relationship breakdown and abuse of any kind. We believe that when you help support one mother recover, you help a whole family heal from the affects of addiction. To reach our goal, we need your help.
We do recover – but never alone.
Send MRT a message today about how YOU can help Mothers Recover from Addiction!
Frances Stone is President of Mother’s Recovery Tribe Society and lives her life passionately as an advocate for ALL mothers on ALL pathways of recovery. Frances is a Certified Addictions Counsellor, Author of A Reflection of Love ~ A Different Kind of Love Story and Former Radio Co-Host of Talk Recovery Vancouver, a show about addiction and recovery issues, located in the DTES of Vancouver, BC. Frances Stone’s greatest love and passion is for her three clever, curious and challenging growing tweens & teens!