My recovery has always been fairly easy to maintain. Throughout the years I have been sober I have had many ups and downs. Throughout each change I have easily been able to add to and modify my relapse prevention tools as needed. This past September my life changed in a huge and wonderful way. I had a baby. This was something I had planned for. I read lots of blogs on Pinterest. I figured out how I was going to balance everything. I was going to continue my normal life as far as my recovery went and just add being a mom to the mix. I had it all figured out. And then September 10th came and everything changed.
Having a child changed my recovery. It changed my spiritual program of action. It changed how I connect with my Higher Power. I used to wake up and immediately hit my knees and follow it with a daily reading and a fresh made juice. I would then practice yoga once or twice a week in a quiet space. I went to AA meetings whenever I wanted. I am going to share with you what the relapse prevention tools that have kept me sober for over six years look like today.
- Prayer: Prayer has been a huge part of my life since the very beginning of my sobriety. My Higher Power has evolved as I have changed over the years. The most common way I would connect with my higher power prior to having my son was first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I would get on my knees and take time to quietly communicate. Today things are a little different, but my relationship with my Higher Power is stronger than ever. I sometimes wake up to a crying baby and sometimes I wake up to a laughing baby. It’s rather unpredictable. When he is crying I get out of bed quickly and don’t hit my knees like I used to. I tend to his needs and then when he is settled I talk to my Higher Power in the bathroom. While I am brushing my teeth I think about the day that is ahead and communicate the same way I would have before on my knees. When my son wakes up pleasant we pray together. I am able to get on my knees and he lies under my arms. It is a nice way for him and I to connect and start our day off with positive energy. I remember I heard a women share in a meeting once that since having a child she wasn’t able to pray first thing in the morning anymore. I remember thinking how ridiculous that was. I mean it only takes a minute or two, right? Wrong. In order for me to have a genuine connection with a Higher Power I have to be patient and find the right time. I spend much more of my time talking with my Higher Power at different points of the day. While I am driving or walking. It has strengthened my relationship with my higher power to connect more frequently as opposed to just once in the morning and once at night. I remain open to how this relationship will continue to evolve in the future.
- Meditation: This is another relapse prevention tool that has done a great deal for my well being over the years. It has also transformed with me as my life has changed. I used to set a time each day to meditate. Sometimes my cat would sit on my lap, but all would be quiet in my world. Having my son has given me a deeper appreciation for meditation. The way I was meditating before was by no means wrong, but it was not as challenging as it is today. When I was guaranteed a quiet space it was easier for me to find internal peace as well. Having less quiet space has taught me that meditation is not an “escape” to some quiet paradise. It is being completely present in the moment I am already in. Today, when I am sitting on my mat, there might be a child crying in the background while my husband tries to get him to sleep or the TV could be on in the next room because my husband finally got a chance to catch up on The Walking Dead. With these potential distractions, I have a greater opportunity to be present in the chaos that is around me. This practice has allowed me to find a much deeper level of peace in my life as it unfolds on a day-to-day basis. It has helped me to put more distance in between a situation and my reaction. It has strengthened my pause button. Meditation has evolved for me in a powerful way that happened exactly as it was intended to.
- Yoga: Yoga is something that I practiced for the very first time very early in my recovery. It was a very intense experience. I became very emotional right on my mat during a practice and this intrigued me. I learned more about emotions and experiences being trapped in my body. Over the years my yoga practice came and went, but it was something I would always come back to. I did yoga while I was pregnant and planned on doing it every single day with my son once he was born. That didn’t exactly happen. Having a newborn is exhausting and it is suggested to be very gentle with yourself for a couple months after. Once I settled into my new role a little more, I was ready to start my practice again. Except my son went through a period where he would scream when I put him down. That put quite a wrinkle in my plan. I began to practice some light yoga with my son, which really seemed to calm him down. Currently, I have set an intention to practice more yoga outside of my house. I have a lovely area to practice in, but there is something about being in a yoga studio that is magical for me. I recently learned that what I considered yoga (the postures) was just a small part of what yoga actually is. There are actually eight limbs of yoga that impact a person’s entire life. It has been a really beautiful journey learning more about these limbs. Currently I am focusing on ahimsa. It means non-harming. I am learning how to be kinder with my thoughts, actions and behaviors to others and myself. It has been eye opening and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me.
- Nutrition: This has been a challenging one for me. I thrive when I treat my body well. Exercise is important, but nutrition is crucial to my well-being! Before I had a baby I would wake up and make a fresh juice each morning. Sometimes it was carrot, apple and ginger or beet, orange and lemon. If you asked me then, this was a practice I would continue after I had my son. Well, making juice one handed is harder than it sounds. I also was an avid meal planner. I grew vegetables in my backyard. I purchased organic vegetables and grass fed meat. I made my own nut milks, ice cream, bread, and hummus. I didn’t have the same amount of time or energy once my son was born to keep this up. I had to be kind to myself because the expectations I put on myself were not realistic. I only make juice once a week now. The other days, I purchase it from the grocery store premade. I buy prepared food more often than I’d like, but I still strive to make healthy choices with salads and other nutrient dense meals. My son is five months now and I am beginning to finally balance taking care of him and cooking meals each day. It was a tough balance to find with the other things going on in my life. It has been a valuable lesson for me to bring my practice of ahimsa into this part of my life. At first I was displeased with my self for not being able to do everything I wanted. When I am being kind to myself, that negativity can’t exist. I am doing the best I can and that is perfectly fine.
- AA Meetings: In my own recovery, meetings are a wonderful tool. They provide a place to fellowship, give and receive support, and to just feel at home. I enjoy meetings. Before I had my son I could go to any meeting, anywhere, whenever I wanted to. Things are a little bit different today. Infants can be very distracting in meetings for some people, including myself. I just end up looking at him the whole time because he is so cute! And when I am not doing that, I am focusing all of my energy on keeping him quiet. My husband and I switch off nights so we can both get the most out of our meetings. It has worked out well for the most part, both of us getting to enough meetings to give and get what we need. I no longer have the freedom I used to have when it comes to meetings, but the way things are fit into my life perfectly.
Parenthood has changed my life in its entirety. People would tell me that once I had a child everything would change, but I didn’t quite understand that until I had one. I wouldn’t trade my life today for anything, but I will be honest and admit things weren’t easy in the beginning. The first week was the best because my husband was home from work and life seemed perfect. Once he went back to work I had to really learn how to balance everything. Aside from recovery, there is work, school, and even just keeping the house clean. I had to learn how to balance all of these things so I could be well spiritually. Everyday isn’t easy, but everyday is truly a gift.