An Interview with Tina Shuey, Social Detox Alumna and Peer Recovery Participant

Help a Mom Recover is a series that spotlights moms in Maggie’s Recovery Community. Please consider honoring the moms in your life with a gift to The Magdalen House this Mother’s Day. YOU can help a mom recover.

Tina’s Family at 2018 Anniversary Party: Laurie, Megan, Tina and Ryan

Has your experience of parenting (being a Mom) changed since you got sober?  Is there a distinct before and after?

When I was in the grips of my alcoholism – being a “Mom” was something I desired but I fell way short of what a Mom should do and be. I was doing the bare minimum, to say the very least.

Now that I am sober and free – I’m able to live a life that does not revolve around me and just my needs. I get to enjoy my kids. They get to be kids. They don’t have to worry about Mom and the next debacle. They get to live their own lives and become the people they are going to be. And I get to support them, and LOVE them and KISS them. You see, I rarely kissed my kids because I was always drinking and I didn’t want them to smell it.

How have your children been affected by your recovery?  Are they actively engaged in helping some of their friends in the same situation as they were in?

My kids have a Mom.

They have witnessed the miracle of recovery and a complete transformation.

Today we talk openly about the past. No shame. They know it’s a disease but they also know that I own my part in it.

They hear me talking openly about my fears, resentments or whatever it may be as it pertains to something from the past (and present).

The principles of the program are the foundation of how I parent and model life for them. Be thoroughly honest, take ownership for your behavior and action (because you will make mistakes – AND THAT’S OK), pause, be kind to others. And the cornerstone – help others especially when your experience makes you qualified to do so.

And that’s the coolest part for me now. To see the kids help others.

From having a friend that calls in the middle of the night, staying on the phone for hours because the Mom is drinking and she’s scared. Or talking openly about their experience, with no shame, because they know that there is someone out there who feels alone and isolated, like they were.

Is your family unit stronger since you since you got sober? Has it continued to grow as a result of participating in our Peer Recovery Program?

To say we are stronger is an understatement. The world revolved around me. I was unable to meet the needs of my kids. But today, I show up. All of me. And every year we break new ground on building trust, communications and respect. It’s not been an overnight matter, it’s taken patience, lots of love and some tears. But what a blessing it is to be a part of it. All of me.

The Peer Recovery Program at Maggie’s has made the difference in my quality of sobriety. Because I have to put my program first – above anything – including the kids – The Magdalen House has given me perfect opportunity to study the steps and sit right next to a woman who is needing to know there is someone who understands what they’re going through and knows a SOLUTION and how to get it.

How has alcoholism impacted you as a mother?

I wake up everyday with a grateful heart that I GET to be a mother.  Alcohol stripped me of everything. Which sounds extreme. But not if you’ve loved or needed love from an unrecovered alcoholic.

I don’t take a single day for granted. Life is precious with them.

Being a Mom is the single hardest job I’ve ever had. I’m so grateful to live a spiritual life and have the lifeline to my creator and higher power. Talking to God and staying engaged with the Peer Recovery Program and my 12-Step recovery program is what allows me to BE a Mom. Actually do the job it entails. How cool is that?

What is it like balancing motherhood and recovery?

I don’t consider it a balance. My recovery comes first. It’s not up for debate or negotiation. The first time I put my kids ahead of my recovery – we lose it all. But the beauty of the program is I live it. It’s part of me and who I am. I don’t have me and then recovery. I am recovery. I talk to God all the time. I call my sponsor when I’m in fear.I lean on the principals when I need a blueprint. I make mistakes and rejoice in the lessons and my part. I get out of the way and let God guide my actions – knowing that He has a plan for me. I’m here to do His work.

What do you wish others knew about you as a mom and an alcoholic?

I’d want people to know that I’m so blessed to have a family that is so supportive of my program and support me in what I must do.

And how I use the kids’ experience with my alcoholism as a tool for showing them a particular skill they learned. Or experience that has given them insights. I talk openly about how alcoholism changed our family and how it’s their story too.

ONE of the reasons I demonstrate no shame about being an alcoholic – I want to literally clear the path for Ryan and Megan to see the value of the experience. Not for it to be clouded and hidden. But to be used for good.

Their legacy is also Hope and a solution.

Wherever their lives take them – they will have the experience, a set of principles, compassion and empathy that qualify them to help another human being. And that, is what it’s all about.