Moms in recovery and in addiction

My heart weighs heavy that our governor has proposed legislation to criminalize the woman who is active in addiction and becomes pregnant. I am mindful of the adage that the only time I ought to look down on an addict is to extend a hand is getting back up. There is no more important investment I can make than to help open doors for a woman in that hell.

I understand the self-righteous anger of those who judge such women. I struggle to identify what it is in their faith, beliefs, and values that compels them to judge and that justifies condemning another person.

To such folks, I offer a quote from Mother Theresa and a Facebook meme:

“When you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

“Thou shall nor judge, for thou hast F’ed up too.”

Wanna grow spiritually? Take a moment and reflect on the worst thing you’ve ever done. No, really, right now. Stop reading and reflect. Got it? Ok. Now, in this moment, how much do you want to judge others?

It’s tough to understand the suffering of addiction and the joy of recovery unless you’ve lived it or at least been up close and personal with it. One’s willingness to understand the experience of others and the amount of compassion one holds are the keys to this.

There’s still so much that’s missing from our conversations around understanding addiction and surviving trauma is at the top of that list. Unspeakable pain, betrayal, and violation are what most often what we find as the roots of addiction.

When we vilify mothers, we overlook those who oppress them – past and present.

I have served countless women who survived. Each of them were born in the middle of hell and sought to do good anyway. These experiences left them prone to dissociation (checking out – becoming lost within oneself, completely overwhelmed – often chronically). Their addictions were the product of trying to escape seemingly endless amounts of pain. They live in a world that asks all the wrong questions, like, “Why doesn’t she just leave?”

We associate domestic violence with men who abuse substances. We overlook the reality that their victims often turn to substances to cope and in this way, come to have two oppressors. Those who vilify always seem to believe that there is plenty of help out there for women with children. Such folks should do a spot check in their communities for homeless shelters that allow children.

Our current leaders are undermining/eliminating vital services to mothers at the state and federal levels. By perpetuating and enhancing stigma, we create obstacles instead of creating solutions. I am mindful of the adage, “Nobody can help us like us.”

I am honored to be a small part of the work Penquis Cap is undertaking in the Community Partnerships for Protecting Children. This program offers peer mentorship from parents who have successfully transformed their lives to parents who are struggling. These are my heroes. These are mothers who with their heads held high reach out to those who struggle in ways most cannot imagine, yet judge.

I am thrilled by the progress the Bangor Area Recovery Network has made as a community resource for addiction recovery. I want to live in a world in which treatment is widely available and community level support is widespread. If you want this too, connect with the amazing people at the Barn 142 Center Street, Brewer 561-9444

To all the mom’s in recovery: I am so very happy for you and for your children. My respect and appreciation for you is beyond what words can express. You deserve ongoing support for doing the most important job in the world.

To all the mom’s still in addiction: I pledge to never judge you. I promise you that a better life is attainable. I will stand beside you and do everything in my power to open doors for you. The most important doors I can point towards are to my brothers and sisters in the halls of AA and NA. The women in these programs know the hell you’re in and will help lift you up. If you’re in greater Bangor, come by the Barn and let us help.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.