I went through alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal/detox on the top bunk in my sister’s basement – in a house full of toddlers. Three of them. I should probably mention that children aren’t my love language. Their bodily fluids gross me out, their disregard for social cues annoys me, and their constant need of literally everything leaves me wondering why so many of my female counterparts swoon ooohs and ahhhs when faced with a newborn or news of a friend’s pregnancy. And please don’t get me started on “the baby smell” – breast milk and B.O.
But now that I’m three years sober, I look at that sister whose basement I recovered in and her now, five children with an inspiring wonder that I carry with me every day. Maybe it was her willingness to love these kids through these things I couldn’t understand that allowed her to be a provider and rock for me in my greatest time of need.
You see, it takes someone with eyes focused on something greater to step into motherhood in the first place, but it takes someone with eyes on Jesus to invite her addict-sister to navigate recovery in the middle of her motherhood journey.
I spent three months in my own personal hell of relapse and repentance while under my sister and her husband’s roof. Their prior faceplants at the feet of Jesus, in their own journey, are why I was able to take my first clumsy steps toward sobriety at all. Then after settling into a bit of a stride, I began my relationship with Christ.
While attending as many AA meetings and addiction counseling sessions as I could while living with my sister in our hometown of Olathe, Kansas, she gave me a dry-erase checklist to complete every day. My list contained the following: exercise, self-care item, craft or activity with the girls, and something called a “quiet time.” Kath had given me a Bible and devotional to work through and this list was all she asked. She loaded the kids up to drive me to meetings, she waited to pick me up from counseling sessions taking turns with my parents; she even attended a couple AA meetings with me just to be at my side. Outside of this checklist, she expected nothing of me but she gave everything.
Little by little I gathered my fragmented pieces of worth and stopped hiding in the basement. I began to spend more time in the kitchen and living room where she was knee-deep in the throes of motherhood. What I saw her doing was as effortless as her love for me. Her eyes were on something greater. She didn’t begrudge her responsibilities: the constant needs of these children or her husband. In fact, she talked to him all the time with an honest excitement that mirrored the joy I saw being cultivated in her children. Something was unusual here and I wanted it – badly. I came to find out she was in community with women and other mothers at something called MOPS. It sounded like a combination of all the things I disliked about being a woman, wrapped up and presented over hot breakfast.
But when I look back, I see her standing in her kitchen, looking at me with the softest eyes, a closed-mouth grin that somehow simultaneously communicated peace while hiding something a bit ornery just below it. I know now that this smirk was her bold confidence in Christ. Her unwavering assurance that herself, her husband and her mom tribe’s intercession on behalf of my recovery and redemption, were winning over the physiological hold the enemy had on me in my addiction.
She answered my spiritually feeble questions. She advised me anytime I sought her regarding the relationship I was in. She sought counsel at my side when I began to question my worth and she combatted the lies by encouraging me to consider my unique identity in Christ – my gifts. She spoke truth in the three months I spent in her home and she showed me love. His love.
Kathie held my hand when I decided against my family’s wishes to move back to Denver with my boyfriend (who’d proposed in the middle of my recovery). She called me out when I relapsed and tried to disappear again. She prayed and she rallied her mom-troop to continue praying as well. Her assurance and confidence never wavered.
She carried that confidence and celebrated when my fiancé and I were baptized 19 days after a relapse, she stood at my side when I married that amazing-crazy man while her husband officiated, and she wore that same ornery-assured smile when I face timed her a few months after the wedding to nervously say, “The pill didn’t work, we’re having a baby.”
While visiting Denver shortly after, Kathie held my hand as she approached an employee of my church and asked, “How can she sign up for MOPS?”
As they say, the rest is history … Three years sober, two years of MOPS, midway through my second pregnancy and cultivating a love for speaking Kathie’s same truth, love and encouragement over women and MOPS groups in Denver. I’m using the story God has written with my life … and none of it would’ve happened if it weren’t for a woman in community with women whose eyes are on their King.
Mollie Talbot is the grateful wife of Kyle, step-mom to Brady (11), cat-mom to Atlas (8), mom to Bankston (2), and is expecting a new addition in October. Although Mollie worked as an avid lover of the frail and broken for seven years as a social worker, her true qualifications come from her own story of complete brokenness as a recovering addict. It was here where she found Jesus and her real purpose, loving and encouraging people to embrace their brokenness on their way toward the kingdom. Mollie is a stay at home mom who preaches vulnerability and redemption at MOPS groups around Denver, on her blog and @mollified where you can find her while she works on her call to write a book. Reach out to Mollie at Mollified9@gmail.com regarding speaking at MOPS groups in the Denver metro area.