What Life Looks Like for a Single Mom in Recovery

by Devin Kennedy
Originally Published: 
A cup of coffee, a laptop and a mouse on a wooden desk

I am a single mom in recovery from alcoholism. And I’m not supposed to date for a year. That’s the rule. Well, at least that’s what they tell me in Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not supposed to even consider a relationship until I’ve been sober for a year. Supposedly it takes that long to get my “brain out of hock.” Actually, I think it takes a lot longer than that, but I’ll stick to the year time frame, because for me that seems long enough. Because the simple truth is, I love men. Always have, since my nursery school boyfriend. And I’ve basically been in relationships ever since that one. So this concept of no dating for a year is a lot to wrap my still-foggy brain around.

But I get it. I’m supposed to be at one with myself right now. I need to work on myself. Get to know myself as sober Devin. Focus on rebuilding my life. But that leaves me stuck with, well … me. It was bad enough when I was messed up, doing messed up things. Now I have to face myself sober and think about all of the messed up things I did when I was messed up. In other words, I can’t get away from … myself. I am in my own company at all times. But I suppose that’s the point. Ugh.

All this time all by myself is intense. Because when I’m alone, I am seriously alone—I live alone, I don’t drive, and when I’m not attending my outpatient program, AA meetings or spending time with my children, I’m literally in my apartment for many hours and days at a time just spending time with me, myself and I. I talk to myself a lot, and I get sick of myself fairly often. But I can’t get away from myself—it’s impossible. Especially now that I’m staying sober.

I do get asked out from time to time. But imagine if I was honest about my current situation?

“Yeah, well I can’t meet you anywhere because I don’t drive. And we can’t do drinks because I’m an alcoholic. What do I do for work? Actually I’m unemployed right now. I collect money from the state because of my illnesses. Three days a week I get picked up in a van and go to an outpatient program to relearn life skills, and the other two days I spend at home writing a memoir about my screwed up life. How do you like me now, motherfucka?!”

I suppose if I resorted back to the days of my storytelling I’d be able to finagle my way through a date and seem “normal.” I could have a guy pick me up at my apartment and say my car was at the shop or something. And then I could make up a reason for not drinking—that part wouldn’t be too hard. I could even wear one of my suits from back when I was an attorney and pretend I was coming from work. I could pull it off. But the truth is, I don’t have it in me these days. I used to lie like it was nobody’s business, but I live an honest life lately.

I think taking a break from men might make the other areas of my life richer. Maybe then I’ll have more to offer someone when the time is right. Because honestly, who should really want to be with me at this point anyway? I wouldn’t necessarily trust that person. He’d either be wearing a cape or be just as screwed up as I am right now. Like the detective who used to work at the public defender’s office with me, who recently learned that I’m single and got in touch. He seems to think that texting me pictures of himself in his uniform would somehow be a turn-on. Yuck. Not working, and definitely not interested.

But let’s be honest, we all have our needs. I’m only human. I was thinking the other day about all I’ve received since getting out of the hospital—rental assistance, a food stamps card, a monthly stipend to help with utility bills, a phone list from AA members, Medicaid, food from various churches and pantries. And I truly appreciate all these things, because it will be a while before I can get back on my feet and go back to work as a lawyer. But considering the suggestion that I stay relationship-free for at least a year, I do think a vibrator should be part of the package deal. Just saying.

This morning I was getting ready for my outpatient program, and as I was putting on my makeup, I noticed I was starting to look better than I had in a while—definitely healthier. And I was happy to look good, just for me and nobody else. It felt like a nice start to a better relationship with myself. I didn’t used to like looking in the mirror because I didn’t respect myself very much. Lately I realize I’m not such a bad person, and I’m not terrible company. Then I started dancing around, singing “Respect” by Aretha Franklin, and I also noted that I better be careful not to go crazy with all this time alone. It’s a fine line to navigate. But all in all, I think we’re going to make a good team.

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