Back when I was touring as a musician, I was surrounded by addiction. It was encouraged and embraced in the culture I was a part of but, more than that, it was simply a familiar part of the scene. Musicians were often paid in alcohol primarily without question and offered other types of drugs after the show. Promoters and club managers also often had their own addictions fueling their ability to keep going well into the early morning. It was everywhere all the time and losing one of my bandmates to an overdose was a tremendous wakeup call for me. Just like that, over the span of a few minutes that weren’t carefully thought out, his life was gone. I have seen life differently ever since.
Now that I’m a mom, my encounters with addiction have helped me establish a sustainable and refreshing view on motherhood and life in general. Here are three mottos shaped by addiction that I take with me into the wonderful journey of motherhood.
1. Life really is short.
While it can seem like the days drag on without end, especially in the face of depression or another mental illness, life really is short. Even if you live to be 110 years old, that’s not even a blip on the radar in the scope of the universe. It’s nothing. When everything seems overwhelming, I try to remember this. Objectively speaking, time passes by quickly despite any subjective experience we may be having. This is thoroughly evident in how quickly my daughter is growing up right before my eyes.
2. Try everything once – to a point.
Trying everything once without exception might seem like a free way to live and knock off bucket list items quickly, but we should also remember that not everything is necessarily worth trying. Losing my bandmate to a drug I have never and will never try taught me this. Try instead all of the things that are healthy, that move you, that make your spirit feel like it is soaring naturally. As for the things that corrode your body in the synthetic sense, forget it. The first time is too often the last time in terms of drug experimentation and I’m personally not going to risk being unavailable to my daughter for anything.
3. Build true relationships based on a real connection.
Drugs and alcohol help people crawl outside of their shells but only into another separate shell. The shell of drugs and alcohol can make a person feel freer but these substances are just another barrier between you and another person developing a real relationship with true connectivity. True connectedness is precious but can only happen when sober. I met too many people on the road who can never be more than acquaintances to me because they were too drunk or high to connect with me on anything other than a superficial level. They might have felt free at the time but all we have to show for it is a fake friendship. This is more important to me now than ever with a daughter in the picture. I want to connect with her truly and deeply in a way that is authentic and not altered by substances. This only matters on my end now since she is still a baby but I look forward to the day that we can truly connect in talking about substance use and abuse and how it negotiates a person’s own agency in life.