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I Couldn’t See The Present

Sober Mommies My Daughter Didn't Want To Be Like MeSo many times I’ve thought to myself, “If only…” If only I had said that, done that, reacted differently, chose differently, and so on. It’s like a song on repeat inside my head where I shame, blame, and reprimand myself for something in the past.

The past is gone, literally, and the only person keeping it alive, is me. Even if there is someone in my life that constantly reminds me of my past, it’s still my decision that is keeping them around to do so. In sobriety, it’s important to face the past, I get that. But it is not okay to think…if only. What purpose does it serve to look back and think, I should have, could have, or would have? There isn’t one; not that I can come up with anyway.

And believe me, I’ve tried.

I reached a point in my life (in sobriety) where there wasn’t a day that went by and I wasn’t mired so deep in the past that I couldn’t see the present. Days on end, where I would reflect constantly and badger myself unmercifully for the mistakes I made; the chances I didn’t take. Beating myself up made me sick and uncomfortable.

One day my daughter asked me if she will be like me when she grows up. I assured her that she will be herself when she grows up, not me.

I could see that she was relieved.


Why? Because she was witness to my unhappiness, stress, worry, and depression, and didn’t want that for herself. One of the most enlightening moments in my sobriety didn’t come from confronting my past, trying to re-write it, or beating myself up about it. It came in that moment; when I realized that my child was looking at me in a way that didn’t say, “I wanna be like you, Mommy,” but rather comfort in knowing that she didn’t have to be.

That has been one of the most amazing moments of clarity in my sobriety. I had forgotten that I have an audience; that what I do TODAY is shaping the future of my child; this child whose sole example in life is me.

I was so blinded by regret, and the desire to make my past better, I lost sight of the fact that my sobriety was supposed to make the present better. I couldn’t see beyond ME, and in the process I lost my “hero” status in the eyes of my little girl.

Every parent wants to be a positive example for their child; one that leaves no scars. We all hope that one day our children will confidently say, “I learned that from my mom,” about something wonderful they did. I am no different.

If I am stuck in yesterday, there is no room for experiencing today or time to be present for my child. In active addiction she was always in the background while I took center stage. Today, I work diligently to ensure that is not the case.

“If only,” is a game I will always lose. If I live my life in today, there is no room for the regret of yesterday.



photo credit: Jose Chavarry via photopin cc

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  1. Thank you shanna for sharing that story , I too struggle with letting go of the past, I constantly beat my self up, you made me feel not alone. I’m newly getting sober. I need to hear these stories and realize a lot of people struggle with this.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it. Hang in there and know that EVERYONE struggles somehow, in some way. You are not alone!

  2. A very insightful reminder as what we need to focus on in recovery and the things we need to let go of! Thank you for sharing this as its something very important that I need to remind myself of often!

    1. Thank you Lindsay! Thank you for taking the time to read it. 😀

  3. Your honesty never ceases to amaze me. I too demanded center stage during active addiction, and I am so grateful for the clarity recovery has allowed. Thank you for always sharing yourself so openly with us. XOXO

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