Saturday, January 30, 2010

Let Your Light Shine

Being a mother takes guts, we all know that. There are a thousand different ways to be frightened, as a mother, and a million more ways to screw it up. Moms who put themselves out there in the blogosphere, keep it real, and share their struggles and triumphs will always have my respect and admiration.

Moms are human, of course, and subject to the struggles and pitfalls everyone faces. The pressure to put your best face forward, no matter what, is always out there. We're allowed to be frazzled, overwhelmed and have ourselves a good old fashioned pity party - Mommybloggers (gad, I hate that term) everywhere commiserate about the delicate balance of raising children and keeping ourselves sane.

The world is increasingly full of Moms who have kids later in life, after going out into the world to get advanced degrees, have careers, or make their way up the Corporate Ladder where they can kick asses and take names. After kids, their days are now filled with changing diapers, playgroups, fixing dinner and carting kids around in their minivans. Important, if not exactly heady, work. We tackle raising kids the same way we approached our careers: head-on and with an exacting determination to do a good job.

Sometimes, though, the floor drops out from underneath us. We become depressed, angry or addicted. Sometimes all three. What then? Is the world ready for Moms to talk openly about the truly dark stuff? I don't know. But I do know that, increasingly, there are Moms who will open up, tell their truths, share their struggles in the interest of helping themselves and others. They face judgement, embarrassment, ignorance and outright denial from the world at large that Moms fall apart, too. And that, sometimes, they turn to alcohol or drugs and get caught up in the web of addiction.

I blogged a lot about Diane Schuler, because I felt the public's response to her tragedy spoke volumes about the world's readiness, or lack thereof, to speak openly about addicted mothers. From newspaper and television reports, people seemed more ready to accept that someone at McDonald's had spiked her coffee that morning than that she had been drinking the day she drove her car the wrong way down a highway, crashed and killed eight people.

How do we break down the barriers of collective denial? By talking about it. Increasingly, there are brave women who share their stories, openly share their struggles with alcohol or drugs. Mothers have always struggled with addiction - this problem isn't new. What is new, however, is the power of the internet, our ability to open up and share our hearts and voices with the world.

Two women who are doing just that: Maggie and Heather. More and more, brave women like them are coming forward, speaking their truths, keeping it real. Addiction thrives in the dark. They are helping shine a bright light on the truth.


  1. Thank you, Ellie. What you've said here is so true. You know, I was just talking to Maggie about how intertwined my drinking was with motherhood. How my addiction started spiraling right after my first son was born. I hope to write about it one day. It's an awful thing to realize, because of course I love my boys LIKE CRAZY. It wasn't them, it was the mundane duty and the endless repetitive sameness that suddenly took over life. And then there are the enormous emotions I was feeling that I was just too scared to feel. That kind of love is frightening to a girl who would rather not feel things too deeply.

    And now here I am, learning to feel it. And it's so good. Scary...but so good.

  2. I'm with Heather (as usual), motherhood definitely triggered me and I didn't know that before I got sober. I really didn't.

    I'm still at the point where I feel more scared than brave but every day that balance tips a little bit more in my favor.

    Thank you for this thoughtful, eloquent post. I think you're really onto something here, so right about how the problem has always existed but now we have more opportunities to see ourselves in other alcoholics--which is a huge first step.

    Thank you Ellie. :)