I was asked along with 4 others, to write this article for Choice Point, an addiction recovery centre in London, UK. (See the link to all the other articles below).
This is what I wrote:
Being a mother can be extremely stressful and lonely at times. Looking after children on your own as many do here in the West, can cause feelings of frustration, hopelessness and despair, because there is just no let up. And tomorrow early, it’ll start up all over again.
Sadly, if mothers feel they are not coping, this can lead to feelings of shame and failure, even depression and anxiety, due to the demands of motherhood, underlined by what a mother thinks and feels is expected of her.
Many also experience a loss of confidence and self-worth, especially if there are relationship or marital problems, you are divorced or if you’re a single parent; if your children are sick, you’re struggling financially; or you struggle with mental health issues, childhood trauma, abuse, and so on.
And this can trigger various types of addiction or indeed, a relapse.
This is why the following 3 tips are important:
1. Find a support group of mothers with similar issues.
Women often hide their insecurities and failures. Yet they are great at supporting one another once they know someone is struggling. This is why support groups that do not judge are important, as they help one another realise that perfection and the ‘you should have everything together’ is just a fallacy, and that all mothers at some point, need emotional and practical support – and help with any addiction.
- Letting go of unworthiness, guilt, rage, shame, bitterness and resentment.
This sentence is important: You cannot recover, until you know what you are recovering from:
Motherhood and all its varying anomalies are never really fully explained or understood until you experience it. And the shock of what can happen or the stress of what it involves can come as quite a surprise, especially as you cannot go back and cancel motherhood. You have to survive it and some really struggle.
This is also because we are not encouraged enough to heal our past issues or indeed, told that relationships, marriage, divorce and especially having children, will press every single emotional button – including those you thought you had managed to bury deep within your psyche.
As a relationship therapist and educator, I have observed that a deep sense of unworthiness, guilt, rage, shame, bitterness and resentment often sit as core issues within every addict’s emotional makeup – stemming usually from their own traumatic childhood experiences which were never really adequately resolved. And further stresses like motherhood and its implications can trigger any unresolved issues to rise up, creating further confusion and anxiety. And in order to cope and squash out this pain, alcohol or drugs can be called upon to create a wall of protection so as to numb out the uncomfortable emotions.
Very soon you may start saying, “Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink, give me another pill, etc, so that I don’t have to face the pain”. Sadly, this choice often blocks out any happiness or joy.
It makes things worse, especially for the families that watch you become numb – and numb to them too. They will watch you slur, they will watch you vomit, they will watch you become irritable, maybe even violent – but mainly, emotionally unavailable. Soon they will have to fend for themselves, as their innocent childhood gets brushed aside. And you may feel even more guilty knowing that what’s more important to you, isn’t your family – but your next drink, or pill, or drug.
2. This is another reason why a support group is so important. The group can help you work through these feelings and emotions.
They understand because they will have been there too. But please do not wait. Contact them for your children’s sake too.
The group will help you process your anger and concerns constructively, and they will teach you how to pause when you are anxious or stressed, to step back, and look at your role within the situation. They will offer you a different perspective and they will teach you to respond instead of just reacting. They will help you find a way back to yourself and what you are capable of.
3. Learn to use substitute activities to become confident again.
One area that many find hard – is how to build confidence. We build confidence by doing things, by becoming active and feeling that we are accomplishing something. And it starts by doing something small, or anything, at first.
When we sit with our emotions, we can start wallowing in our own victimhood. This is why it is important to get moving in order to get your brain to focus elsewhere. This will also help any feelings of depression, and so on. Becoming active will help you feel better and you will start to gain self-worth.
Yoga is also fantastic for mothers, depression, grief, menopause, looking great and building self-esteem, etc. There are centres that even offer free classes. Just talk to your support group. They or the centres could even organise classes for you and possibly even a care centre providing time off for you to exercise.
Also, walking and doing your 1000 steps a day will provide you with a sense of achievement. Indeed, running or cycling, even meditation and learning to breath differently will help too.
Either way, start by taking one small active step and slowly you will start unlocking the past. Find support and let others help you and your family who need you.
And as Jean-Paul Sartre once said, “Life begins on the other side of despair.” Wisdom indeed.
© 2022 Deidré Wallace. All rights reserved.
Here is the link to all the articles written: https://www.choicepointhealth.com/top-mom-influencers…/