A letter to my daughter on her 18th birthday:
During the last year of my sobriety, I have devoted much time to unpacking the events that took place during my active addiction.
Standing in my guilt, I have often wished that time could somehow be turned back in order to erase and replace things I’ve done and said to you. My priorities fell out of alignment and I chose the pursuit of a chemical high over the health and well-being of my children (and myself).
It has taken some deep soul work, but I’ve made great strides in replacing the shame I felt from situations I subjected you to and the morbidly adult decisions I forced you to make.
You bravely stood by me, both mentally and financially, as my caretaker throughout active addiction. I left a gaping hole of guardianship over the household that you filled with a type of maturity I’ve never witnessed in a teenager. Even though it wasn’t fair and you didn’t ask for that role, you took it on with resilience and, most importantly, the kind of unconditional love that is rarely seen.
I am so grateful for you.
I have accepted that I cannot change the past, but I can shape the future. I’m making a commitment to you: I will expend the same level of relentless devotion that was once focused on replacing my shame on restoring our newfound relationship.
I come into this space a higher version of myself, equipped with rich learning acquired from the healing process. I believe we can build the most beautiful father/daughter bond the universe has ever seen!
I do see the damage that has been done though. I see that you have been a casualty.
The most detrimental result of my actions has been the narrative that I’ve written for your life. That story forces you to show up in the world as the caretaker for those who are damaged or lost. And while being a caretaker isn’t an inherently bad thing, it can be if you forget to take care of yourself.
You spent a large portion of your formidable teenage years moving your needs and wants to the side in order to “save” me and the family. Because of this—because of my addiction—you have found your identity in being a savior.
Now, it is time to step out of your comfort zone and commit to writing your own narrative, finding love for yourself, practicing self-care, and aligning with your higher self. There is a healthy amount of selfishness that we must exert when it is time for self-care. So give yourself permission to be selfish.
I couldn’t ask for a more loyal and loving daughter. And I want to see you flourish. I’m here to support you in this process as we grow together and rewrite our stories.