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How Can I Forgive Myself for Leaving my Son for Meth?

A guilt-ridden mom asks how she can ever forgive herself after leaving her son during her addiction to meth. Nicole responds with a great reminder.

How can I ever forgive myself for leaving my son for months—for meth. Where do I start? Help!


Signed, “Guilt-Ridden Mom”

Dear Guilt-Ridden,

Thank you for being so brave and reaching out. When I decided to step away from life as I knew it for a while and seek treatment for my addiction, I was convinced that it would never work for the following reasons:

“My kids need me too much.”
“I’m all they have. I’m a single mama, and they don’t have anyone else.”
“I can’t leave them, I would never forgive myself if something happened to them.”

Turns out, those were exactly the reasons it did work, and I did seek treatment. It was first in the recovery community that someone introduced me to the oxygen mask analogy, and it still is a daily reminder for me. I’d like to share it with you. When you fly on a plane, the flight attendant, during her safety presentation, instructs all passengers—especially parents—to put on their oxygen masks first in the event of an emergency, so that they are then able to assist children in putting on theirs. This isn’t a selfish act of saving oneself first. It is a necessity; so you can be alive to take care of your child.

When I started looking at my recovery this way, there was a huge shift for me. I could not be the parent my children needed if I did not first take care of myself. I was floundering around trying to take care of everyone else first and NO ONE was benefitting—I was not a good mama, a good daughter, a good friend or any of the other things I tried so hard to keep up with—because I could not breathe. I could not help anyone else until I first took a long look at what I needed—and what I needed was a residential treatment where I could detox and get help with my addiction.

It wasn’t easy. It meant I had to ask people for help—my ex-husband, my parents, friends (all people I had very messy relationships with) had to step in and care for my children while I was away.

The one thing that carried me through is that I knew, no matter what they thought of me or I thought of them—I knew they would take care of my children and that it was only temporary. It was so that I could get back on my feet and learn to breathe. I’m happy to say that my children barely remember that time—and the memories they do have are of fun times with family members.

I remember every second I was away—the pain of being away from them, the hours I spent detoxing and fighting like hell to save my own life—and it was every bit worth it. I am able to be the mama they need today because I learned to put my oxygen mask on. I’m here for them today and tomorrow and the next day because I did. Please let us know if there is any way we can help support you as you learn to take care of your own precious self. You are worth it—I promise. You are worth the same care and protection that you would give your precious son.

Lots of love and support,


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