For me, being a recovering addict and having children is all about balance. I struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for a very long time. During those years of active addiction, there were many reasons I never imagined having a child in my life. First, my mother died from alcoholism. I was raised watching her struggle for many years, and like many addicts, I had a troubled upbringing. Once I was introduced to drugs, it numbed the pain and seemingly gave me some type of purpose.
While I was in active addiction, I never wanted a child because I knew a child should not be brought into the world only to go through the things I went through. In my active addiction, all I cared about was more drugs, not about myself. I knew having another life that depended on me for everything would not be fair. Something had to be done for me to turn things around.
There were stints in medical detox, treatment facilities, IOP, and other programs through the years. My last attempt at getting sober involved a detox and working with a therapist I had years prior. He said, “Matt, you know what to do, so it’s just a matter of putting in the work.” When I left detox, I went through post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), but got through it thanks to Narcotics Anonymous and finding a sponsor. It was also important to work the 12 Steps, and I continue to apply those to my life today.
I found recovery and started to rebuild my life. In this process, I learned a lot about myself, and a big part of that was learning how to balance life and cope with that. By the time I had my first child, I was a little more than two years sober. In the beginning, it was challenging to find the right balance of being a recovering addict, father, husband, and productive member of society. However, the most important thing for me is putting my recovery first. That’s difficult for a lot of people to understand because as a father and husband you want to put your family first, but if I do not put my recovery first, I will inevitably relapse and lose everything.
Without recovery, I would not be in the position I’m in today. Like many things, life gets difficult between balancing meetings, two kids and my relationship, a full-time job, and finding time for myself – it can be very exhausting. Doing this I sometimes have to take a step back and reassess what I’m doing. For me, it’s very rewarding seeing I am able to do all of this, especially when I consider my upbringing coming from a life of hopelessness, desperation, and neglect.
Today, I know my recovery must come first, or I will go back to that dark place. Thankfully, I was able to get out of it. I have a daily reprieve and as long as I work at it each day, it gets better. I’m able to be present for my children because of the things I’ve learned in recovery. Without it, I would be lost and they would not have a father to guide them in the right direction to avoid the mistakes I made.
This is Tony’s story. Portions of the content may be triggering for some readers. Let me talk you back...
Grief comes in many forms and is often misunderstood. In some cultures, grief is embraced and freely expressed. In...