Dear Dr. Meg,
My depression got out of control leading to me relapsing after 10 years of sobriety. I made bad choices like having an affair because my husband wouldn’t annul his previous marriage in the Catholic Church. I lost my husband and my 12-year-old daughter had to go live with her biological father. I was evicted by my husband from our home and lost my finances. My daughter says I ruined her life and that her father and Grandfather tell her I chose drugs and alcohol over her. She is 13 now. I have almost 10 months of sobriety now. My daughter won’t talk to me or see me and her father let’s her have her way despite the judge telling him to encourage her to visit me and provisions are made for him to make her available for phone visitation in our court order but I only get voice mail. Both he and his father have alienated her from me. I feel so much guilt and shame and am very sorry for what I have done and have tried to correct my errors. I feel like my daughter hates me and is out of my life forever. Is there any hope for me? How can I fix this situation? Will my daughter come around? I struggle with suicidal thoughts thinking her and her father and Grandfather will be happy if I was gone. Her father is engaged to a woman and she already calls her step momma and he calls her kids, her siblings. Thank you for any help you can offer.
Now Sober Mom
Dear Now Sober Mom,
Is there hope for you? Absolutely. You are at the bottom of a dark pit now because you are experiencing the pain of the consequences that come from bad mistakes. Your story is one that would sit beautifully in the pages of the bible because the disciples, prophets and even God’s beloved David made many of the mistakes that you have. But remember, God’s gracious hand was guiding and helping them through every mistake and recovery they made. Even though they felt like running or when they were depressed, God never, ever gave up on them because that’s how huge is love is. I can guarantee that His love is that great for you, too, my friend.
First, please do not hurt yourself anymore. You’ve done enough of that. Stop it. Get yourself to a good doctor to treat your depression and work your AA program like your life depends on it because it does. Your first priority is to get yourself well. I know that you are anxious to mend things with your daughter but that will take time (years not months) and the best way to make sure that you are successful is to make yourself strong and healthy. Get sober for years. Get your depression really under control. Find some good women who can help you. Skip boyfriends. Stay away from anything that threatens your sobriety or anything that will cause you to do stupid things.
Your daughter is hurting deeply because she feels that you abandoned her. You know that you were under the spell of alcohol and depression but all she knows is that her Mom left. Be patient with her. It will take years for her to trust you again and I don’t blame her because the truth is, you probably still struggle to trust yourself too. So, don’t trust yourself, trust God. He won’t let you down. I encourage you to write your daughter letters. Don’t write about what you are doing or how you are doing. Write about her. Tell her that you understand her disappointment and that you want to take a lifetime to make up for the hurts she has endured. Tell her that she has a good Dad and that you hope that she will get along with her step-Mom. Do not tell her that you are jealous or anything like that. Just be encouraging.
Do not insist on anything, but get better and as you do, keep writing her and asking how she is. Focus on positive things. Here’s the hope that you have: that over time and with great patience, you can get back into her life but first you must prove to her and yourself that you are serious about recovery. I believe that you can do this so now you must believe that too and be patient with yourself.