The last few days I have debated with myself whether or not to post about this. Actually, I’ve been thinking about it since I started this blog. Since I couldn’t make up my mind, I decided to think about the pros and cons of writing about this subject. The pros are that it will probably be cathartic for me, that I often get clarity about things when I write, that I might get some support by writing about this, and that I love the feeling of liberation I get when I am honest about myself and my feelings. The cons are that it will bring up a lot of emotions, that it will be difficult to write, and that I honestly don’t even know if I know enough words to really express how I feel about it (not an ideal feeling for someone who just started blogging).
I think the pros outweigh the cons. So, here goes:
I have a smart, funny, creative, beautiful 16 year-old daughter. Having her was the best thing I ever did. She brought me so much joy from the moment I found out that I was pregnant, and I love being her mom. I am proud to be her mom. The thing is, she doesn’t want me in her life.
I’ve said it.
I have a child that wants nothing to do with me. And the truth is, when it came right down to it, I didn’t fight hard enough or long enough to try to keep her in my life. I let her go. It absolutely kills me to think, and to write, that. But, sadly, it’s the truth.
I left my abusive ex-husband when my daughter was ten. It was a scary time for both of us, but we faced it together. We were a team. She wrote me lovely notes that said how proud she was of me and how strong I was. I still have them, but they’re tucked away because it just hurts too much to look at them now. In those next couple of years, we spent a lot of time together. We rarely had disagreements and we shared the same smart-ass sense of humor. We went to the mall, we did crafts, we baked, we both read a lot and we traded books sometimes, we talked, really talked, about things. I have such happy memories of her from that time.
Then the wheels came off for me. I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, but didn’t know it yet. I began to self-medicate with alcohol. Soon after I got a DUI. I started a very unhealthy relationship with a man that dragged on for a few years. I thought that by keeping that part of my life (both the drinking and the guy) separate from my daughter she wouldn’t have yet another stress in her young life. I was wrong. She knew. And now that I can look back at that period of time, I can see that what it did was drive her away.
As my drinking progressed, as it inevitably does, my daughter saw me drunk on a few occasions. What she saw scared her, and I can’t blame her, it scared me. I wasn’t a violent or angry drunk (at least not yet), I was a terribly depressed and down drunk. I would cry those horrible drunken tears, sobbing uncontrollably as I filled up my wine glass again and again. I didn’t even recognize it at the time, but that’s really when she started to pull away from me. She spent more time at friends’ houses or at my mother’s. That was okay with me, it gave me more time to drink and wallow in self-pity. I would try to put on my game face when she was with me, but I realize now that she could see through it.
By the time that I got myself to rehab, she was pretty much staying with my mom all the time. Her bedroom was still full of her things, but she was gone. My expectation (bad idea right there, having expectations) was that after I completed my thirty days, when I was back at home, that she would come home and everything would be perfect. I would be fixed and she and I would go on as though the last few years hadn’t happened. Obviously, I was quite disappointed to find out that she didn’t want to live with me anymore. She wanted to stay with my mom. My heart was broken. I thought that I would be embraced and maybe even respected for seeking help and getting sober. But that didn’t happen.
That’s the point where I really messed up. I was newly sober (that stretch of sobriety didn’t last. I had to hit a whole new bottom, go back to treatment, and really get honest about my resentments and grief), I was full of guilt and shame, and I wasn’t in a place where I could make her come home. I wanted to, so badly. But I couldn’t do it. I told myself that she was happy, she was doing well in school, and had a nice group of friends. Who was I to make her go through more changes and have to deal with a recovering alcoholic for a mother? That’s how I justified my inactivity. The truth, as I see it now, is that I gave up. I just gave up.
I have made so many mistakes, big and small, but not making my daughter come home is the single worst mistake I have ever made. It’s the one thing that I still can’t forgive myself for. It’s now been two years since I have seen her (aside from photos that I steal from Facebook and Pinterest), and my heart aches, all day, every day. There are times that it’s much worse than others, but it is always there. I am able to have happy moments, good days, and laughter now, but I sometimes wonder how much better those times would be if she were with me.
I don’t know what the future holds for me and my daughter, only God does. I have surrendered my broken heart to Him. Of course, day after day, I take it back, only to have to turn it over to Him again and again. I truly feel, though, that my daughter and I will be reconciled at some point, but it’s not going to happen according to my plan. I have to accept that it will be done on God’s timeline, not mine. The waiting is so hard.
What I do know however, is that when the time comes for us to talk and to have a relationship again, I do not want to be drunk! The single most important thing I can do for me and for her is to stay sober. If she reaches out for me and I am actively drinking, I know that I will lose her forever. So I stay the course, I pray for her health and happiness, I work the program, I love her from a distance, and I live my life.