I have come to the conclusion that parenthood comes with a lot of guilt. Especially mine.
I’ve been a parent now for over 30 years. I have two amazing sons who I am very proud of. They love their Mom and I love them more than anything in the world. How we got to this point is still a mystery to me because I got to tell you, looking back it should have turned out very differently.
I was a youngish Mom who went into Motherhood all bright eyed and bushy tailed. I had the idea that no mother would ever love her children more than I was going to love mine. That we would be the perfect family and have the perfect life. Life unfortunatly had other intentions for us.
I had my first son just 3 days shy of my 26th birthday and my second son 2 and half years after that. On the outside looking in we were the perfect family. The hard working Dad, stay at home Mom and 2 beautiful children. What it looked like on the outside was not what it was on the inside. I will not spend much time on the subject of my ex-husband, other to state that he was not a nice man so we packed up and left. His parenting stopped around this time also. He made a couple of cameos to stir up some shit and that was the extent of his involvement. End of subject.
My idea of parenthood changed that day we left. Not necessarily for the worse because I don’t think being a single parent is a bad thing. Having one loving parent is way better than having two miserable ones. While my boys and I were determined to make the best of things, things were just hard. My boys were 7 and 5 when we left and like millions of other single parents I was the “one stop shop”.
So there I was, a 32 year old single mom in a moldy rental, two young boys, a pit bull and a new determination to make this all okay for my kids. We had our good days, like the day we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores in the living room fireplace. We had not so good days like when I would become overwhelmed and not have the patience that I knew they deserved. There were times that I could not afford the electricity and I would cook by candlelight. After dinner we would play board games until we had to stop when we got lightheaded from the candle smell. Those were fun nights. I learned quickly that if I had to choose between gas or electricity I would choose to keep the electricity on. We could handle the dark but cold showers were unacceptable. Having the water turned off was the absolute worse. You HAVE to flush the toilets. For the most part we took everything in stride and we generally worked together. It wasn’t until they got older and I got to drinking more that things turned bad.
I always had an issue with drinking and had quit when my children were young. I started drinking again when my marriage stared to end and I didn’t stop for 20 years. During this time I spiraled out of control and they spiraled out of control with me. I went through boyfriends and they went through hell. I drank until I blacked out and they have blacked out those times. I was self destructive and they were lost. I was angry and they were sad. I can go on and on all day, but the bottom line is this. My addiction not only stole my life, it stole my children’s childhood. There is no good way to look at what they went through and this is one area of my recovery that will never recover. I personally will never play this down, I will not soften the truth and I will not diminish the pain that I put my children through. It is my belief that to do any of those things would be slap in their face. For me to deny anything or to say it wasn’t “that bad” would put them right back in the position of feeling helpless. Not to mention they would see right through that bullshit and would I would loose all the progress that we have made. For me the facing the ugly truth is the only way to face this. It’s painful but necessary.
By the time I did quit drinking nether one of my children liked me, one wouldn’t speak to me and the other barely tolerated my presence. I went into my healthy journey with the hope that we would be able to heal. I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, but the reality is so much better. Better than I ever dreamed of. I have been able to share experiences with them that I never thought possible. We have been on trips together, have started new traditions, have become closer and have a bond of trust.
This journey of healing has it moments. Please don’t think for one moment that it’s all rainbows and butterflies. The past can raise its ugly head and I deal with it when it does. As a parent it is my duty to put their feeling before mine. If something triggers them, it’s my responsibility to acknowledge their pain and help them. It’s my job to be the Mom I should have been all those years. The times when I was drunk and they needed me. This is my “do-over” and I plan on doing it in the best possible way. I don’t care if my children are 5, 25 or 55, I will do what I can, to be the best possible Mom I can be. There are not many things in life that give you a second chance, but I feel love is one of those things.
If you are currently struggling with addiction or the aftermath of addiction, I will say this. Stay true to you. You have to heal yourself first and then those around you will heal also. Addiction doesn’t only affect you, it affects everyone who loves you. The same goes with healing. When you are healthy it will affect those you love and help them heal also.
I shed a couple of tears writing this tonight but after rereading this I realized something. It might have taken me a few years, but I feel like that bright eyed and bushy tailed Mom again. That feeling is worth every single tear.
Until next time…….