Announcer: New Directions for Women presents From Addiction to Recovery: Inspirational Stories of Courage.
Kim: Hi, my name is Kim and I’m an alcoholic. I’d like to introduce you to my daughter, Melissa.
Melissa: Hi, my name’s Melissa. Living with somebody whose gone through the ups and downs of sobriety hasn’t been the easiest. The early years I definitely was afraid of her relapsing and what that would mean for our lives. Then occasionally there are still times even today where I feel … I’m waiting for the one big thing that’s going to set her over. Obviously throughout the years I haven’t had that for everything, for every little thing, but there seem to be some big things that make it like that, so it does get difficult. It isn’t always the easiest, but knowing that she is sober, knowing that she’s been sober, knowing that she has been strong to remain sober has been amazing, especially knowing that being involved in Alcoholic’s Anonymous and through that whole program there’s a lot of people that we’ve gotten to know through her 15 years of sobriety. She’s the only one of them who I know whose actually stuck it through and stayed strong and stayed sober and that, I mean, that speaks volumes of how she’s really moved mountains to be sober.
Kim: For me, knowing that she doesn’t trust me fully, it hurts, but I can only be an example and do my living amends. I understand that fear, because there have been some serious issues that might make her wonder if this is going to be it? Is this going to make mom relapse? It’s a one day at a time program and I can only do what I can do with what I have. It’s not a promise, it’s not a promise. The big book says that, we stay sober based upon our spiritual condition and … Contingent on our spiritual condition. As long as I have that relationship with my higher power, I can be okay. There’s been some rough times, but I play that tape through and I know what it would do to our family and I have no desire to go back to what it was. It hurts, but I understand, I understand her fear.
Choosing drinking over my daughter was shameful. It was actually the worst decision obviously. I had no soul, it sucked the soul out of me. In doing that, I wasn’t even prepared to be a parent. I think back even today about that little girl running around and needing her mom and I wasn’t that mom. The guilt and … We’re supposed to be free from that guilt once we get into recovery, and it talks about that if there were wrongs we could right, we would do it. There’s nothing, that’s just … Those are words, those are words and I wish I could go back and just make those things right for her. When we lived in Big Bear I was 12-stepped and I had a bottle of tequila hidden under my pillow and they said, “What about that little girl out there?” I said, “I don’t care, I want my bottle.” You can’t change that, you can’t change that. She’s turned out to be a beautiful, beautiful child, but it damages them, it damages them and you can’t take away that damage, you can’t take away that damage.
Melissa: It doesn’t matter how old I get, and it doesn’t matter how far apart we may be, those decisions will always affect me, because it will always come back to I want her to be sober, I want her to live the life that she’s worked so hard to get, and I want her to have the best of that, and I don’t want to see her settle for less than that. Sometimes I worry about that. Alcoholism is the disease, I don’t know, I definitely don’t look at her as an alcoholic, I look at her as my mom. I don’t look at her as someone who’s in AA, I look at her as my mom and just somebody whose lived a hard life, but fought hard to be where she is today to be a sober person. Oh, I’m very proud of my mom, I’m very proud of her. I’m very proud of who she is and where she’s gotten. Very proud that despite a lot of things that have happened, even in the last three to five years of our lives, she’s kept it together and kept it sober. I would probably say the last three to five years of our lives and her sobriety have probably been the hardest, way more than the first five years and the fact that she stayed sober is something to extremely be proud about and I am.
Kim: I would say come to New Directions, you will get your life back and your family back, whether you like them or not, you will get your family back. I hated my dad when I got here and we did not get along. He’s still my dad, but we have a life today.
Melissa: Yeah. I would say the same thing. I would say for the kids especially the older ones, try to be understanding and supportive and if I could have gone back, I would have liked to have walked more with a heart and a mind of mercy towards my mom to see that she was here, that she was actually getting sober, rather than trying to fight her on it and say, “It’s your fault,” and point more fingers at her. I should have had the ability to step out and say, “She’s actually doing something about it.” For the children and for the parents, just … For the kids, try and have that understanding, try and be that support. It isn’t your fault, don’t bear that burden, but don’t make it harder on yourself or them, because it … I mean, resentment doesn’t hurt the person, it hurts you.
The resentment I held towards my mom didn’t hurt her any, it hurt me and it drug me down and that’s something that I had to let go. Don’t hold resentments, try and walk in mercy. To the parents, to the mothers, if your kids are acting out in resentment, just try and be patient with them and just try to reassure them that this is good, that this is you fighting for them, this is you fighting for yourself, this is you fighting to do better and all you can do is show that in your actions. At some point, words kind of stop holding water in this type of reality, but your actions will, and your actions for being at New Directions, your actions for actually being sober and walking that out, says that and that will speak to them.