by Nikki Russell, Recovery Coach
August 29, 2023
I am so grateful to be a mother. The ten years it took to become pregnant did not prepare me for the journey of motherhood. Just because having a baby is biological does not mean it is natural. Having my daughter activated a wound in me that had been dormant for many years; I would not fully understand this rugged process until much later. The medical community calls this phenomenon postpartum depression. I was attempting to maintain a belief that having a baby would fix me; it did, but not in the way I expected.
I was living in darkness when I found recovery; I was physically present in my daughter's life, but mentally and emotionally, I was living in the past. I needed to use substances daily to feel normal, but I needed more and more to get the same effect. Every day I looked at my daughter with guilt and shame, knowing that something needed to change but not having the power to produce it. I was completely absent in my life, a hollow person wandering, trying to escape the hurt from my childhood. An echo from my soul produced words of wisdom I did not recognize; "I need help." I thought strength meant living life without showing emotions, independence told doing life on your own, and success meant maintaining the facade I had altogether.
For the first time in my life, the pressure to be something I was not lifted. I could go to work without a daily hangover and come home without a bottle or two of wine; that meant I had a chance at connection. I could be in the moment with my daughter; my mind was not racing trying to find my next numbing event, trying to get a substance in me before the guilt and shame from the past would ignite memories.
As I healed, the bond with my daughter kept getting stronger. I recognized that I was seeing my wound in her when I was in my addiction. Still, as I started to heal, I saw my happiness in her—a direct reflection of the healing process from trauma, and internal isolation, to connection. I was becoming a proud momma, walking with my head held high, and she watched every move I made. As I healed my past through daily meditation, journaling, and a support network, I felt genuine love for the first time.
Values were becoming a priority in my life. Wisdom was rising to the surface like I do not have to have all the answers. I learned that Letting my daughter tell me what was important to her and walking that journey by her side meant she took responsibility for her actions and I could be there for her. I learned hugs feel good, words of support validate, and holding space for her was enough when neither knew what to say or do. I was enough; a profound notion and an even better feeling.
My daughter and I walked this recovery journey together because, thankfully, she watched me have courage, strength, and vulnerability. Recovery is so much more than not using substances, and being a mother is more than not numbing; it is a willingness to look at some hard truths, say sorry and hold her while she cries, and trust every day that love is enough. When I healed myself, I became the mother to myself, and then only then could I begin to be a momma to my beautiful Savannah. Modeling motherhood for my daughter is a legacy worth leaving, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a proud momma to the most beautiful soul in the world.
Savannah girl, I love you to the moon and back.