As a content writer and stay-at-home mom, I often feel my professional and family worlds intermingling, changing my perspectives on each. I do a lot of work for addiction rehab centers, which keeps setting goals, making changes, and living a better life at the forefront of my mind as I chase my wild children from room to room. Most recently, when working on potty training with my toddler, I couldn’t help but notice some strong similarities between the plight of my 2 year old, and that of a recovering addict.
Success Leads to Success
Sometimes all a child needs to get the ball rolling on the whole potty training scene is a little taste of success. Every parent who’s hovered over a toilet, listening carefully for the sounds of success knows what I’m talking about. If you can just get your baby to get this right one time, you can make a huge deal about how wonderful it is, and she’ll understand the goal you have in mind. She’ll want to do this thing that you view as great again, so one little success leads to a whole string of them until the goal is accomplished.
Similarly, an addict who is trying to turn away from their disease can find strength in every milestone along the way. One hour clean becomes one day clean, which becomes one week clean, etc. Having a team of loved ones and recovery experts in his corner that are willing to cheer him on, offering encouragement every step of the way, is a big part of staying motivated to face the next hurdle.
Relapses and Setbacks
To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, “Nothing worth doing is easy,” and this holds true for both potty training and recovery. There are lots of factors that are going to cause setbacks along the road to reaching these goals. Major life changes like a new job or a new baby brother can send things into a tailspin that result in a relapse, or a full blown regression back to diapers. Your toddler may feel that they’re ready to handle a trip to the park, just as the addict thinks they can manage a holiday party, only to find that they’re in completely over their heads.
The trick to dealing with setbacks in both cases is to have a plan in place ahead of time for how you will handle them when they come along. For an addict, this probably includes calling their sponsor and other sources of support to help them rally before too much damage is done. For your toddler, a relapse recovery plan probably includes the added support of a day spent at home, some one-on-one time with mommy and daddy, and an incentive or treat to help her keep her eye on the prize.
A Whole New You
Making any sort of big life change is hard, and this holds true at any age. Leaving behind old habits, especially bad ones, feels foreign and uncomfortable. Whether the goal is to potty train, or to leave behind a crippling addiction, there are going to be times where you feel out of your element, frightened, and like you’re somehow not yourself anymore. The whole thing is sure to feel unnatural at first, but there will come a day when this new way of life begins to feel like the right one. The real success comes when an addict views their former way of life as unsavory as a “big kid” would view wearing a diaper around all day.
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Tiecen is a 30-something stay-at-home-mom, who works as a content writer to help meet her family's needs for tutus and gymnastics. The more time she can spend with her husband and little girls, the happier she is! Find out more about her life adventures at www.tiecen.blogspot.com.