I remember lying on my analyst's couch when she suggested I try a 12-step program. I sat right up and said, "Um, excuse me?" This was not what I was paying her for. Clearly, I had preconceived notions about 12-step programs and maybe, dear reader, you do too. However, I quickly learned that 12-step programs teach you more than just recovery. In fact, things a 12-step program teaches you about motherhood should not be underrated. Sure, you're learning about them in a dimly lit room in the basement of a church, where the coffee is stale and you've just unloaded on a group of strangers, but they're important and worthwhile and, for me, will make all the difference in my parenting journey.
My reluctance to try a 12-step program was not because I'm a snob, it's because I had trepidations about being honest about who I am; a woman with addictive tendencies. I'm scared that'll make me a terrible mother, or that I will pass these tendencies along to my child and cause him or her the kind of suffering I know only too well.
It's easy to sit in a posh therapist's office and talk about your problems because your shrink is focussing all his or her attention on you. You feel special. You feel listened to. You feel validated. There's usually nice art on the walls and comfortable couches to lie upon. There's the hum of the noise machine, and laws of confidentiality binding your secrets. But guess what? You can feel special, listened to, and validated by a 12-step program, even one that's lacking the above amenities. I know because I experienced all those feelings, and more. A 12-step program taught me things I'm stowing in my parenting tool box, and all this heartfelt knowledge didn't cost a dime. Here's some of the things I learned: