UNTANGLING WHAT'S LIFE & ADDICTION
Being in recovery can have a double-edged nature. Throughout the stories of the participants, it becomes clear that this double-edged nature is intrinsically connected to the ‘lens of addiction’. It opens up questions on what and how day-to-day experiences are connected to (previous) dynamics of addiction. This refers to ‘ordinary’ moments in everyday life that remind them of their (previous) patters or dynamics of drug use and/or care and support. To cope with these questions, it's important to share your story. But there are several challenges in relation to womanhood and finding balance in day-to-day life.
THERE ARE THREE CENTRAL TOPICS IN
'UNTANGLING WHAT'S LIFE AND WHAT'S ADDICTION'
Sharing (y)our story
All of the participants have had to learn or develop skills to share their story. These skills are often connected with the environment they grew up in and how they relate to the communication styles that surrounded them. They also show the way their environment responds to these stories influences their recovery process. Feeling accepted by meaningful others can have a positive influence on their own way to self-acceptance. At the same time, the stories reveal that merely having skill to express yourself isn’t enough on itself.
The 'bad' woman
In relation to womanhood and motherhood, the stories of the participants uncover very specific expectations and dynamics. There seems to be an ideal image of the woman that is centred around the idea of giving life and taking care of life. In this way womanhood gets defined in relation to ‘a woman as a mother’, even if women don’t have children. At the same time there is an allocation to drug use and/or addiction as something destructive. As a consequence, women who use drugs or are (ex-)addicts are seen as ‘bad’ women. The central idea is that when you use drugs, you cannot take on your ‘responsibility’ as a woman or a mother.
The structure of 'little' things
The combination of being in recovery and working your way through day-to-day life is challenging for the participants. Several of the participants engaged in residential treatment programs. Throughout those programs there is a strong focus on structure and taking responsibility. Some of our participants describe this as being ‘drilled’. The participants do recognize the important part that ‘structure’ played in their recovery process, but it also brought along feelings of stress of being constantly attentive towards keeping a certain structure in daily life.