I had the privilege to interview some brave and courageous women in our community. These women share a bond that many may not have: that they were all mothers and in treatment for a substance use disorder.
While they all come from fairly different backgrounds, currently their lives revolve around the same schedule: While they live in an on-campus setting, these ladies attend classes all day at their respective treatment facilities and on the weekends they do chores and spend time with their kids.
There are many challenges for these women. It can be difficult to keep up with therapy appointments that come with treatment as well as continuing to parent through this challenging time. And the ongoing struggle of insurance issues continues to loom as they work to make not only their lives, but the lives of their children better.
For one mom, sobriety was the biggest challenge. She was newer to the program and she still felt a strong pull towards drinking alcohol. Even as we were talking she mentioned the ongoing triggers of simple things around her. She is occasionally allowed to go over to the gas station to purchase needed items and when she enters the store, she feels sad because she knows she cannot go down the alcohol aisle. She cries over the control that alcohol has had on her. She is going through a period of loss over something that was once her priority, while her brain is literally re-wiring itself. Handling the emotional waves that come with sobriety speaks to her bravery of entering treatment.
All the women I interviewed are choosing to make themselves vulnerable by heading into sobriety. Because they have numbed past memories and emotions for so long, it is physically and emotionally exhausting for them to have to experience these emotions in the raw and without the aid of their drug of choice.
Another mom discussed with me the difference between happiness and joy. She was once living a very fast-paced, drug-induced life where she was chasing bits of happiness from moment to moment. Joy, on the other hand, is something that is lasting. It is something that can be had for free if one is willing to accept it. She now experiences joy over seeing her child do something for the first time. In fact, the simple fact of getting to spend time with her kids now gives her joy.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) was present in most of the women’s lives (including when they were children). Although there were some serious concerns brought up about the system, the overall feeling in the room was that DHS impacted their families’ lives for the better. They used words like “grateful” and “live saving” when referring to DHS becoming involved in their lives.
One of the most touching stories I heard had to do with foster parents. For a particular mom, her kids were staying with foster parents while she was getting treatment. During this time, she developed a close relationship with those foster parents. Today, those foster parents have become the God-Parents to the kids they took in.
The group of moms was incredibly encouraging and positive toward one another. It was obvious that they were pulling for each other’s success. Ultimately it’s going to take a lot of hard heart work for each and every mom to find a new perspective on their future. I believe this is something each and every one of the women I interviewed is capable of.
Special thanks to the moms who shared their stories with me.
Lindsey Ungs, Certified Prevention Specialist
Area Substance Abuse Council