On October 1st, 2012, I made two decisions that would drastically alter my path in life.
I drove silently through my small hometown in Georgia—alone, desperate, and broken.
When I arrived at my lawyer’s office I was a wreck. He greeted me with a warm smile and went on to explain the document sitting before me.
He called me brave.
He called me selfless.
He called me a loving Mother.
But I knew what I really was: I was an unfit, empty shell of a woman with nothing to offer my daughter.
I scribbled my name across the physical custody transfer papers and walked out. With one simple signature, my life as I’d known it as a single Mom to a 3-year-old girl, was over.
I arrived at my next destination fifteen minutes later. I grabbed my bags, fought the urge to get sick in the parking lot, and forced myself step by step to enter the rehab center.
My legs weighed 1,000 pounds and my heart ached for my child.
Still I pressed forward, knowing that handing her over to her loving father and grandmother and coming here were probably the only unselfish thing I’d ever done as her Mother. I would stay at this center for 28 days—six of those spent detoxing the alcohol from my weary body.
Now, here in 2014, life is much better for me. I’m sober, active in a twelve-step program, beginning a job, married, and moving into a real home in a family neighborhood soon. The blessings sobriety has poured down upon me seem to be unlimited, but what I value and treasure the most, is my freedom from the wretched life of a sick alcoholic.
Though I still have not regained physical custody of my daughter, Veni, I do have a visitation agreement with her father, as well as Joint legal custody. I was really struggling recently with this agreement. I thought I was entitled to and deserved much more time with my daughter. She had been mine for three years and I wanted her to be mine again. But life doesn’t work that way. Luckily, today, I don’t have to try to drown my sorrows with vodka shots or drink a bottle of wine to numb the pain.
I’ve learned so much recently.
When I learn a valuable lesson or experience a good teaching moment, I write it down in a letter to my daughter. I write her weekly.
Its my way of feeling close to her when we are apart, and remembering things I want to discuss when the time is right. I send these letters to an email address I created. She’ll get the password when she’s 18. There’s so much I want her to know, so many mistakes and heartaches I want her to prevent. If she’s anything like her Mama, though, she’s going to have to learn it for herself.
Such is life. But I can teach her about the dangers of alcohol and show her how it can wreak havoc on someone’s life. I can teach her about second chances and learning from our mistakes. I can teach her about forgiveness, compassion and the power of prayer. I can teach her about acceptance, love and tolerance of others. I can teach her how to become the strong, determined woman I strive to be—through my actions as well as these letters.
The following letter is a lesson in surrender, forgiveness, letting go, gratitude, and seeing the big picture.
Maybe some of you could benefit, too. If this piece offers anyone a new perspective or restores hope for others caught in negativity, then my purpose for sharing this letter will have been fulfilled…
Hello my love. Its Mommy.
I haven’t strayed far from the couch since I got home from dropping you off at school this morning, yet I’m tired. I’m drained.
But Im finally at peace.
In the span of the last 12 hours you’ve been gone I’ve struggled. I’ve obsessed. I’ve cried. I’ve wallowed. I’ve seethed. I’ve resented. I’ve regretted.
I’ve tortured myself. Its lonely in that world. And it hurts. I can’t breathe when I go there and I lose my way. I need help to find it again. So I reached out my hand. Thank God for compassionate women. I typed a message. I made a call. I talked about it. I listened. I gained perspective. I found gratitude. I took advice.Then I took action. I’d been searching for an answer so desperately, but from the wrong source. I didn’t even have the right question. I can see that clearly now.
I ran the shower and finally peeled off my stinky clothes from yesterday. I stepped in the shower and kneeled down to prayer position, letting the water wash over me. I opened my mind, my heart, and my soul. Then I opened my mouth and prayed. Veni, I prayed the first genuine, honest prayer I’ve ever prayed in my life. I prayed for you.
And I prayed for your Father and his mother. And I prayed for myself. Some people will tell you that you ought not do that, but I say my prayers are between me and God, and if I have pure intentions its just fine to include myself.I
I prayed that God would cover you with his love and keep you safe. I prayed that your Daddy would have any and everything he needed to be the best father he could be. And that he and Gaga stay healthy and happy. I prayed that He give me the capacity to let go of all the negativity/critcism/
I prayed for him to take away my self centered fears and anger about our visitation arrangement. I prayed for acceptance. I prayed for the strength to be everything you need in a mother.
Most importantly I thanked him. I thanked him for trusting me with one of his most precious creations. I thanked him for your health and happiness and everything that makes you so special. I thanked him for your Daddy and Gaga. I thanked him for second chances and forgiveness.
For my abundance of blessings. I cried tears of gratitude and relief. I stood slowly and washed away the dirt of the past. I was finally clean. Renewed inside and out.
How great is our God?
You know—I’ve probably heard the cliché “Let Go Let God” in recovery a hundred times over the past four years, but I was never truly able to do that until today. I finally get it. Baby, you were never really mine in the first place. And you don’t belong to your Daddy either. We are mere caretakers in your life.
You, sweet Veni, are a child of God. You belong to Him and He keeps you and loves you more than humanly possible.
He has a path for your life, Little One. I’m just grateful to be a part of your journey. So, while I may not see you every day like I’d like, I know God has you exactly where you are supposed to be right now. And I trust that He’ll continue to guide you on His chosen path- wherever that may be. I have surrendered to this beautiful truth, and
I am free. No longer lost, my hope and vision restored. “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see…”
I love you to the moon and back, angel, that’ll never change.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Jessica Sandhu / Editor: Renée Picard