I Couldn’t See The Present
So 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.
Shanna is in recovery from alcoholism, and chooses to voice her experience and journey of recovery. Shanna is also administrator for the inspirational facebook group, Diary of an Alcoholic: A Journey of Recovery.