Paying it Forward – Sonda's Road to Recovery

Hello, my name is Sonda and I am a Mother in Recovery …

 My story really begins with addiction. My first memories are being obsessed and compulsive over food. I did everything in my power as early as kindergarten to get the food that I wanted. I would steal it and hide it, steal money to get it, and take it from other people’s houses. There was never any reason for this, my family had enough, and I didn’t need to steal it but it’s all I could ever think about, and nothing was enough. I would eat until I was physically ill.

I would learn later through therapy that I had been sexually abused by a family member and the food was all I could control. With the food addiction came obesity, with obesity came bullying from both my family, school mates, the general public, and school administrators. This level of bullying set me up for lifelong low self-esteem and made me turn to drugs and eating disorders at the age of 17. This became my life. I lived to eat, to use, to be bulimic. To my parents I was an embarrassment. A fat girl with no friends.  I spent most of my 20s chasing around desperately looking for the love that I never felt in my own home. Around the age of 30 I decided that the chase was over, and I just wanted to disappear into my body and into my drugs. I had a young daughter and I took her and move to an island. And that’s where I stayed for a long period of time. 

My life was lonely and sad and desperate. I ate myself into almost 500 lbs.  This is the world that I brought my child up in. It took me a long time and getting clean to understand why she clung to her friends, and seldom wanted to spend time with me. but now I understand it was a fun and happier place for her to be in then the sad and depressing world that I had created for her. I used to resent her friends but today I feel grateful for all of them.

I had a sister who became addicted to opiates about 12 years ago now. I left the island to try to help her. We went through many long battles and trips to detox, and treatment. We dealt with all the ugliness that comes with addiction. I finally decided if I went to treatment myself (though I wasn’t an addict. I was just a loser!). Maybe she would follow me. I completed 90 days at Westminster House and came home. Despite all the lessons of narcotics anonymous and the treatment center, I did absolutely nothing I had learned.

I got into my first relationship within 24 hours. I didn’t go to meetings and I started drinking alcohol because it wasn’t my drug of choice. Six weeks from treatment and 4 1/2 months clean my sister lost her life to an overdose. The pain was terrible, and I had nothing to fall back on, so I fell back on what I always had. Food, bulimia, and drugs. I moved in with the guy, a huge mistake. I decided that’s what my life was going to be I was 57 years old weighed 350 pounds and was miserable and unhappy with a man I did not love. I became suicidal and started eating, drinking, and smoking myself into an early grave. This went on for about a year.  One night after eating and smoking and drinking all day long I felt so desperate.

I sat down and started writing out the third step prayer “God take my will and my life guide me in my recovery show me how to live “. I wrote it over and over until my hand started to cramp and I wasn’t feeling very good I finally realized in my anesthetize brain that something was wrong. I was right, I was having a heart attack.  

God take my will and my life, guide me in my recovery and show me how to live.

Everything at this point becomes a blur; the next thing I clearly remember is waking up in the hospital. My eight-month pregnant daughter was standing over me and I was tied to a bed with tubes coming out of every part of my body. I could see in her eyes the look of worry and fear. I knew my actions had put that look on her face. I was so scared and in a lot of pain both physically and emotionally.

I believe I had a spiritual awakening at that moment. A thought came into my mind. It was the first of the 12 steps. That my life was unmanageable, and I had no power over my addiction. This knowledge became an absolute part of my soul. Two weeks later I got out of the hospital and I went to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. I completely surrendered to the NA program and did absolutely everything they told me. I went to 90 meetings in 90 days, I got a sponsor and I started working the steps. Narcotics Anonymous has helped me to build a life that I am proud of. Today I am 15 months clean from drugs and food addiction. I do service work for NA and I reach out to other women.

In these last 15 months I have thought often of my sister, and the end of her life. I saw Mother’s Recovery Tribe on FB and remember wishing this had been something available to her.  When mothers struggle, their children struggle. I watched myself struggle and my daughter suffer.  The same was true of my sister. She struggled with addiction though I know she loved her son.

I can’t help my sister any longer, but I can reach out to other struggling mothers in her memory. I want to help MRT expand down into Washington State. We are holding our first Tribe gathering here soon and I’m so excited! Women, and especially mothers need each other!

I am 60 years old now, it’s taken me this long to build a life that I’m proud of. I have a good relationship with my daughter and my beautiful grandson. I am finally starting to feel less anxiety over my past choices. I believe the saying that if you like who you are you must honor the road that brought you here. My road was dark and sad but with the help of my sponsor, step work, service and the relationships I build with other women I’m understanding the role that I played in creating that road and that understanding gives me hope that the road ahead will be one of beauty and grace and fulfillment. 

I can’t change the childhood I gave my daughter.  I can change the “Grandma” I give my grandson.  He never has to know me drunk or stoned or miserable. I never thought I had a choice. Today I know I exist in a world of choice.

If I can leave mothers with one last thought, it’s this; childhood goes by in a blink of an eye.  I remember clearly the doctor laying my little 6lb 4oz baby girl on my chest. That was 36 years ago now! I let addiction overcome me and did not respect and honor the short years she was given into my care. Opportunities like MRT, 12 step programs or any recovery that works for you can help you not waste those precious years. 

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!