It was another grim morning in January. I was laying on the floor of my in-law’s house having gotten no sleep wondering how I was going to physically and emotionally get through another day. I was addicted to opiates and felt like I had no way out. I was enthralled with shame because I was barely making ends meet not just for me, but for my daughter Salia, who was only two at the time. I remember often deciding if I was going to get diapers or food that day and honestly, those came secondary to my addiction. I felt so sick internally when others would talk about how special the relationship is between a mother and a child. I couldn’t understand why being a mother wasn’t enough to get me sober. I knew I loved my child and never wanted to put her in harm’s way, but why couldn’t I just stop?
Addiction is something that is so commonly misunderstood. Many always wonder, “why can’t you just quit?” or “how could you be so selfish when you have a daughter?” At the time, I had zero education on WHY I was choosing a path that was causing extreme harm to everyone around me. I was so frustrated that I just couldn’t get my life together! I was sick and tired of feeling inferior to everyone around me and was always daydreaming of having another person’s life. I have always been hyper-sensitive to people, places, and things and it seemed like I had momentary peace when I was numbed in my addiction.
My addiction became a huge issue when I was prescribed pain medications due to a C-section with my first daughter. Something I have learned through time is that addiction is progressive and that the substance is merely a symptom of what's truly going on. When I look at my history, I can see moments of “sobriety” and moments of when I was doing what I thought was fairly normal (come to find out taking pain medication every day, all day, isn’t normal). My past was never about my love for my daughter, or lack thereof, but more about having lost all sense of identity and purpose.
I woke up on January 11, 2012 to family and friends sitting in a circle holding my daughter begging me to go to treatment. If I chose not to go, then I would be kicked out and my daughter would no longer be in my care. In that moment, my initial instinct was, “I don’t have a problem- you guys are absolutely crazy!” I am not sure what ended up changing, but I finally agreed to go. I’ll never forget going to the airport completely broken and just praying that everything will be okay. Some in sobriety would call this the "prayer of desperation," and I had it!
I ended up staying in treatment for 8 months and my daughter came to be with me at about two months in. I was learning to be an emotionally present parent again, but more importantly, I was nurturing and healing the relationship I had with myself. I was allowing myself the opportunity to learn about old belief systems that no longer served me and that I was never a “bad” mom, but someone who was suffering from her addiction. Also, come to find out, our initial thoughts aren’t always right, and painful emotions are temporary! Man! That was a relief because I really thought something was terribly wrong with my mind. Whether there is an addiction component or not, we as humans get to experience the dualities of life, that is suffering and happiness…and shame and resiliency. Honoring these states of our being in my opinion, is what makes us human.
Something I have learned through sobriety is that being a complete person and grounded in who I am is the BEST thing I could do for anyone around me, but more importantly as a mother. Being an example of a woman comfortable in her in her own skin and committed to her worth and confidence is the best GIFT I can give my children. It's not always easy practicing self-care and committing to our individuality as a mother. Finding the balance is a life long journey and we can only try to do our best every day!
I am almost eight years sober now and have had three more daughters since. Through my journey, I have gained a deep understanding of how important my spirituality and connection to others are and am committed to leading a life that transmits authenticity and truth, MY truth. Through the years, I have been able to share with my children the importance of honoring who they are and to be unapologetic and fearless in how they choose to show up. I share with them that it’s okay to be vulnerable, that they are whole no matter what.
Through my sobriety has come healing as a family and for my daughter. Salia has shared her story as a child growing up in a household of recovery in hopes to be another vessel of hope for other children. It's so important to share with others that sometimes a household can have conflict, but that it isn’t necessarily the child's fault; that it is only a circumstance and that they too, can find retreat in connecting with others (because ultimately that is what life is about). We are always stronger as a community and when we allow our true selves to simply just be, without judgment.
This story was written by Jaana Woodbury for our Hello Parents series. Our mission is to create a community of extreme inclusivity. Appreciating what makes us different and what we all have in common. No judgment. Just a village of support.
I share my story because I know that I am not the only one who has struggled with addiction and mental health. I understand what it feels like to have lost all hope and feel like I had nothing to offer as a mother. I know what it’s like to compare yourself to other moms and think that their life must be so much better. I am also here to tell YOU mama, that you’ve been blessed with this little tiny being that chose YOU. YOU too, can find power in connecting with others. The season of being a mother, or becoming a mother is one to be celebrated, because YOU deserve to be celebrated.
Today, I choose to lead a life that finds joy in the simplest things and materials from the earth herself in products and diapers have been part of my story! I absolutely love finding natural remedies and tapping into what’s already been given to us through plants and non-toxic ingredients. In a way it’s similar to rejecting putting harmful substances into my body. I feel that it’s my priority as a mother to offer clean and healthy alternatives to my children! More specifically, I have been drawn to Hello Bello because of Dax’s story and I am not surprised that he and Kristen have found a way to offer something EVERYONE should have access to at an affordable price. I know the work that goes into being a healthy family unit and living a life of sobriety. I instantly felt connected to the brand. Because the brand is the people. And the people are the community. And the community is the story. Grateful to be part of it!
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