Are you willing to go to any lengths to get sober?
This seems like a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, but the answer is rarely black and white. With the best of intentions, the desperate state of wanting the consequences of addiction to go away motivates a quick response. And with genuine intent, I wanted to do anything.
Then I was asked to let go of everything. This included my preconceptions, my plan, my playing God and most of all my way of forcing my will in every situation. One of the most difficult of these challenges came at the hands of my ‘mom’ card. Responsibility is a huge thing for me. And while my versions of responsibility were completely warped, I was committed to the intent. I wanted to be a good mom. I wanted to be all things to these girls. I wanted to be at therapy with Ally. I wanted to sit at dance with AJ. I wanted to help with all things at pre-school. I wanted to host the playdates. Well, maybe not the last one.
In the early days of sobriety, my kids were my motivation. It was their smiles that I saw when I wanted to take a drink. It was their eyes I wanted to avoid disappointing. But a strange thing happens when you begin to re-prioritize. As I began to place a high value on their security and safety, I would often fall into periods of grief as I recalled the ways that I had failed them in the past. It was from this place of guilt that I would try to over-parent.
The recovery meetings that I initially found great comfort in met on Tuesday nights and Saturday morning. While I was making meetings daily, the women’s meetings were important in a unique way. Both of these times were in the middle of activities that were on our weekly family schedule prior to my sobriety. I often did an intricate dance of trying to be all the places and present for all the things. What if I just suddenly was not around with the other moms? What would they think? Who would take care of the duties? I remember clearly the night that I tried to make mom excuses for not attending my meetings. A friend in the program looked at me and said, “any lengths. ANY LENGTHS.”
Because here is the truth. I may have been physically present for my kids before, but the quality of my presence was crap. I was too busy trying to figure out how close to the end of a dance class I would have to wait to take my pills and still be able to get the car home safely. Or perhaps it was the plan to have a “much deserved” drink to relax with other moms who surely understand how stressful these days are. These mental gymnastics were a full-time job. And while I thought that I had them under control, control was a false facade.
ANY LENGTHS for me in these days was calling my lies for what they were. ANY LENGTHS was asking for help so that I could be at the meetings that would help me get to a place that I could sit next to parents at my kid’s activities without romancing a drink. ANY LENGTHS was learning enough about my own insides that I could quit judging them by everyone else’s outsides.
And I had a long way to go. So for this season, I planted myself in all the things that people told me could bring about surrender. There was nothing I needed more in this season. Surrender, honesty and willingness would be the cornerstones of this new life.