“You live; you learn. You laugh; you learn. You lose; you learn.” Alanis Morrisette


Some days, I hate being a grownup. I want to stay in bed, curl up with my fleecy blanket, and not think for a while. I wish for someone to coddle me, nurture me, and keep hot tea on my bedside table.

But, the reality is I am a grown up; I do have responsibilities and I do have to get up every day and face whatever the world disperses to me. Earlier in the week, I wanted to say “Fuck today” more so than I have before. So, here comes the truth.

My teenage daughter left my home in late December because  I am an alcoholic. I failed her as a parent, and I failed myself as a human. You see, I quit drinking in early November and since I had some 50 days of sobriety I was under the illusion that I was clear headed and making sense when I spewed out my millionth lecture to her. In my mind, I felt entitled to come at her with my truth regardless of how she felt. I was going to set a boundary, damn it.
Well, that was almost two months ago. My daughter will not respond to my texts, answer my calls, or come to see me, her step dad or two half-brothers.
I have a hole in my heart.I thought I had a handle on this sobriety piece. I am so mistaken. The more time passes, the less I know. My whole perception of truth and how it relates to me has been shattered. So, I called her therapist asking what more I need to be doing to foster this relationship. I go to her office and have no idea what to expect, but the feeling in my stomach tells me I am in for a treat, and not that kind that makes you deny your diet and feel boundless joy.
We chat, simple banter and then she drops the question: “Have you read the letter she mailed you?” Letter? What letter? I don’t have a letter, but I have to go to the po to get my mail and hadn’t done so in two days. Well, she’s prepared; she has a copy.
I am pretty sure I was slammed by a train, screeching under the wheels down the tracks. Every cell in my body was splitting starting at my feet and moving north the speed of light. Her words hurt me to my core. I had (in her eyes) rejected her; I walked out on her; I never wanted her and I have had the audacity to kick her out of the house. In fact, she doesn’t even want to call me mom anymore. Her words, “You blow up, then feel guilty, apologize, and expect everything to be normal again.”
Slam. Dunk.
The shame ekes into my cheeks. I can barely even swallow. A lump of pain is there and if I don’t get it down, I’m pretty sure I will suffocate. After I trudge through the remainder of the meeting, I stumble to my car.
That is a moment that I am going to have to accept and expect to happen again. Being an alcoholic, I have betrayed the trust of my children. My brave daughter let her honest, to-the-core feelings loose and I know this is only one of the many moments I will have in the months to come where facing the demons is a reality. I spent hours reading and rereading her words- not as a punishment but so I could hear and define what I did and understand my role in the fault. I slept on it (not very soundly) and composed a letter that I feel allowed my role, my responsibility, my apology to come through without being a complete punching bag. And as my fabulous sponsor said to me, I am only responsible now for my effort, not the outcome.

I had to come to a pretty stark realization: I lied to myself for years that I was only hurting myself. I went to work full-time, had a good marriage, attended church regularly, have four children and attended all their activities. My drinking couldn’t possibly have an effect on them. They hug me and tell me they love me; they tell me I am their biggest fan and they know I always have their back. Me, hurting my family?
Fuck me. Fuck the lies. Fuck the alcohol. Damn right I hurt my kids, my husband, my mom, my siblings, my in laws, and my friends. I have shame, regret and fear as a result.
However, being sober is the first step. Feeling the emotions and allowing them to rear their ugly heads, accepting them, and being willing to make a change and commit to that change is a completely different entity. Having a moment like this sober helps me to understand why I drank, but it also clarifies why I CAN’T; I’ve wasted too much of my life not feeling and I missed some key lessons along the way.
I know I am not a sum of the negative but rather a sum of ALL things and that includes the hope of a better future. I know I am sitting in the fire right now and there will come a day when I can be on the outskirts only feeling a little of the stinging blazes. But today, it’s fucking hard. All I ever wanted to be in this life was a great mom, and I fell short because I chose alcohol over my kids.
Yet, I am determined to feel the feelings: to live, to learn, to lose, to one day laugh a great belly laugh.
And, I let this all go to the universe and I asked my Higher Power to protect me.

And protect He did. I went to the get the mail to be sure I did indeed have a letter which I did. But on top of the mail, right on top, was a letter of encouragement to me from my best friend from high school. It read: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” My favorite quote of all time, I might add. And inside she writes, “I believe in you; hang in there ; you are strong and I’m thinking of you. I love you.”
I call my friend to tell her how perfect HER timing was and that I appreciate it so very much. And she says, “Hmm. Weird you are just now getting that. I mailed that over two weeks ago.”
Weird? Nope. Not in the least.

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4 thoughts on ““You live; you learn. You laugh; you learn. You lose; you learn.” Alanis Morrisette

  1. Powerful post. I admire your honesty and willingness to look at how your drinking affected your kids. That is truly the scariest thing of all about getting sober. Also really like what your friend’s letter said and the timing of it.

    • Thank you. It was probably the hardest post I’ve written to date because I had to get honest and look at what I’ve done to the people I love. And you’re right, it is scary. But I knew this wouldn’t be easy so I have to put my big girl panties on, dig in, and deal.
      I looked for a way to see my Higher Power at work for weeks and there he was in my mailbox.

  2. I am so sorry for your pain. Children can rip our hearts out. We, as parents have unconditional love. Children often judge that which they don’t understand, and can’t until they have walked in our shoes. She will come back to you, I know it in my heart, and from personal experience. A mother/daughter relationship is too important a bond for it to remain broken forever.

    Keep working on you. Time heals wounds and hearts.

    That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
    Friedrich Nietzsche

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