A Mother’s Redemption
When my daughter reached legal driving age, my existence as a single mother changed abruptly. I had anticipated the teenage years, secretly hoping my daughter would be the exception, expecting the yearning of independence would somehow miraculously bypass our codependent, mother/daughter, best-friend existence. However, I neglected to reflect on my parenting style: raising her to be independent, adventure-seeking, open-minded, and determined. It came as no surprise that she obtained her driving permit at 15 and scored employment two months before her 16th birthday. As I watched her drive away for the first time without me, I knew my life would never be the same.
Shortly after this realization, I found myself seeking the company of other mothers who enjoyed coffee every morning and a glass of wine every night. It appeared socially acceptable, as alcohol and cheer filled the empty void inside of me. I suffered immensely from empty-nest syndrome. Socializing with a glass of wine also distracted me from the stark reality looming in my subconscious: Cohabitation with my daughter was soon to come to a halt, as numerous college acceptance letters began arriving in the mailbox.
The last ten years of my life, regretfully, are a blur. In the desperation to fill my impending loneliness during my daughter’s senior year in high school, I married the first man who asked. Our relationship revolved solely around alcohol. At this time, I was in denial that I had a real drinking problem. Within two years, I found myself divorced and unemployed.
The drastic change in my behavior drove a wedge between my daughter and me. I found myself isolating because I believed I was a failure. My daughter, resentful to see her once-heroic mother fall into a self-loathing, drunken stupor, began to distance herself, as well. I felt hopeless and suicidal. I soon found myself running from my self-imposed problems. I couch-surfed for seven years, changing addresses 13 times in five different states. The only remedy to ease the pain was found at the bottom of a bottle.
During this time, I was present to see my daughter blossom into a responsible, caring, and purposeful adult, despite my progressive illness. I reflect on my attendance at many functions over the last decade—and all linger as hazy memories. I hid my advancing disease until it took over my life.
Gradually, I found myself drinking a bottle of wine each night rather than just one glass. In 2015 I began drinking daily so I could sleep, and binging on the weekends because reality was too painful to bear. I found myself battling the disease of alcoholism, believing no remedy could heal me.
I finally succumbed to the fact that I was an alcoholic.
Many factors led me to seek treatment, but nothing motivated me more than the pleading words and tearful eyes of my beautiful daughter. After years of resentment and anger, she gradually allowed me a place in her life again.
Knowing I could lose this if I did not stop drinking terrified me, but my disease held me painfully in its clutches. I knew I needed help. I reached out. A facility 900 miles away from home offered me refuge and healing. With my daughter’s encouragement, I courageously took the flight to Florida and never looked back. I had to do this—if not for me, then for my daughter. Losing another moment in time was no longer an option.
Seven days into treatment, I was coherent and able to call home. I could hear the smile grow on my daughter’s face as she spoke words of relief. Her biggest concern was whether or not this treatment center would teach me how to be alone.
I felt confident that the road to recovery would offer more than the ability to be alone, and it has. I have united with a fellowship of recovering alcoholics who fight each day to conquer their disease. I have been immersed in a community of support, love, and healing. Every day, I wake up grateful and willing. Every day, I regain purpose and direction. I truly know that I never have to be alone again.
With my daughter’s inspiration, I continue to apply the things I learned in recovery to my daily living. I have embraced my natural beauty, and I feel comfortable in my own skin. I have come to love the person I see when I peer into the mirror.
In sobriety, I received a meaningful, cherished gift from my daughter. It was a custom-made sobriety bracelet. The gift of recovery has restored my relationship with her in inexplicable ways. I no longer feel an absence in my soul, and the word regret is no longer in my vocabulary. Instead, I relish the present, cherishing every moment. I know that I never have to miss another moment in my daughter’s life. Our bond is stronger than ever. Sobriety has returned my best friend for life.