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Most days I feel grateful for all that recovery has given me. On days like this, I feel sad for all that addiction took away.

On Days Like This, I Feel Sad

As an addict, I must learn to deal with my emotions in healthier ways. The emotional struggle of the day is guilt. I should feel happy and complete sitting here, feeding my six-month-old breakfast; watching her play between bites – all gooey from the banana bites that haven’t quite made it into her mouth. This moment should fill me with joy, and yet I can’t shake an overwhelming feeling of guilt.

I also have a handsome, fun-loving, four-year-old. Today he too is enjoying our day together, eating dry cereal and running to see what his sister and I are up to every few minutes. He is so happy.

I should just be enjoying this beautiful spring morning at home with my babies, but I cannot.

I see their happy faces, and I know in my heart I am a good mother today. My children are healthy and beautiful, and a huge part of my recovery. But the guilt is always there.

When my son was my daughter’s age, my attention was split between him and my addiction. My addiction consumed nearly the entire day. If I wasn’t chasing, I was pill sick. If I wasn’t pill sick, I was feeling “good.” It was only then, after I got my “fix,” that I could parent properly. Only then did I have the energy and ability to focus on and enjoy little moments like gooey banana faces.

He was denied my full attention for so long. I was there and he had all he needed, but not much more. So, when I look back and remember those little moments—the ones he will never remember—those moments I more or less sucked at, I feel guilty.

I feel guilty because my addiction took the enjoyment out of parenting my first child.

I feel guilty because I feel like even though I have it together, it took too long for me to get to this place. I feel guilty for taking the time to enjoy my youngest child, and give her the attention I couldn’t give my son. No matter how much I take the time to savor every single delicious moment with my two amazing gifts from God, I can never get back those early days of my son’s life.

He will never remember our life during my active addiction, but I will never forget. Most days I’m happy with my life and recovery, but on days like today I feel sad.

In recovery, I have learned to deal and cope with these emotions. Even as I sit here wallowing in guilt, thinking of the bad parenting choices I made during my active addiction, I feel a glimmer of happiness because today I can enjoy this time with my kids.

Today I can be here with and for them in every way. When I think of how lucky I truly am, my guilt fades into the background and I remember—I cannot change the past, but I can offer one hell of a future.

I am able to be a good mom today, and make wonderful new memories.

Just for today, I can push my guilt aside and enjoy the little things. Just for today, I am going to be the best mother I can be for both of my babies. Just for today, guilt will not consume me. I control my emotions, not the other way around!

Because these happy, healthy babies need a healthy, happy mommy.

This post was submitted by Carla.

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  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way sometimes.

  2. Wow I do this to myself all the time! I look at how amazing all my 3 kids are and it makes me cry and feel guilt! I look at my oldest two and cry because of the guilt and shame I carry when I recall things that happened during my active alcoholism days. So hard to let go of guilt

  3. I was sober 20 years when I had my first child. Came in at 15 baby at 35….guess what…..I made mistakes…every day…….still do. It’s OK….no one is perfect and I prefer to spend my time with other imperfect people. So I apologize often and pray every day to improve. Congrats on your sobriety.

  4. Thank you Carla after reading that i now feel a little less lonely and rejected. More understood, accepted and peaceful..My story is very similar to yours, although as well as my 4 year old son and 10 month old daughter I also have a 20 year old daughter too.xx I can totally relate to the guilt surrounding your four year old son but also my eldest daughter who old enough to understand and will remember. Yet she has shown me the most forgiving and unconditional love. I have recently separated with the children’s father. I could no longer put up with the constant put downs and the daily reminders that I must never forget my failings as a parent. Sadly my partner was also.a heavy drinker and although somewhat more controlled now, still drinks. Unfortunately he didn’t feel he needed to enter into recovery services. So I went on my journey alone and after a year of therapy and growth I am now in a place of emotional well being and happiness that I once felt was impossible. We rapidly grew apart and I no longer can accept being put down or allow my self worth to become lost in his constant blame games. Its something too precious to me and my kids. And although I have full custody of my little ones and our home now feels full of love, peace and full of positivity . I constantly feel it’s underthreat. Their father seems determined, and focused on my relapsing. I feel that he’s witholding any support in the upbringing of our children, with the intention that I will crumble under the extra pressure..Thank god I’ve got a supportive family who are behind me 100%.. My view is that yes I accept I was not the best mum I am capable of being for a time and I failed the children. However beating myself up with constant feelings of guilt, is of no benefit to anyone. Equally I would be failing them..xx

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