I want to stop erasing

Ellie said something recently about addiction and motherhood that I'd like to share because it helped me so much:

"I look at it this way, now: I didn't know how to love that fiercely. It made me so afraid ... afraid I would screw it up, afraid something would happen to them, afraid I could never measure up enough for these two beautiful souls. And for so long, what did I do when I was afraid? I drank. So I was hiding from the fear.
I heard, over and over, when I was first getting sober: How could you do that? Don't you love your kids enough to NOT do that? The answer was that I loved them so much I didn't know what to do.

I thought, perversely, I was doing them a favor by erasing myself from the picture a little at a time.

Only in sobriety can I accept myself and all my flaws, and know that the only perfect Mom for them is me. Some days I remember that easily, some days not so much." But at least I know it, now.

~Ellie - One Crafty Mother


That same day, I tried reading Ellie's comment to a friend over the phone, as we talked about our own sobriety. I couldn't stop the crying. That's what happens when something you're trying to say is the truth.

When you are doing something so damaging to yourself and your family, when you are trying to erase yourself from the picture, you are so alone and so scared. I was, anyway.

Recently, someone in recovery said I don't know how this is my life. I don't know why I'm at this meeting. I don't know what I'm doing here. I'm just so confused.

Yeah, I get that. But I guess confused is better than numb...or erased.

For me, the beauty of sobriety lies in the fact that I'm seeing through the fog and toward myself now. I'm not numbing the confusion anymore, and although that can be terribly overwhelming and there is so much work to be done, I'm not wandering aimlessly. I'm no longer blinded and hurting in the way that I was because of drinking, so focused on the drink and missing what mattered.

When you quit, the fog doesn't lift up and away easily, but it does settle. So the murky things are still there, around your feet, all the isms of alcoholism. But they are settled. In the quitting it is done. That is not to say there is no work, that would just be a ridiculous thing to say. But the fog, it is below, waiting to be trampled by your very own feet because of the clearing, the ability to see where you're headed.

This settling of my spirit is almost too much for me. Foreign. It's as if the letting go of alcohol flipped a mercy switch, chains and chains and layers and layers poof! gone, just in the quitting itself. Truth! Freedom! Even if I have no idea what I'm doing. Even if right now, I feel like a dry drunk so much of the time.

I can surrender now. I could never truly surrender before.

I have uncomfortable realizations around every corner, every hour. These are the thoughts I used to push away, erasing them frantically glass by glass...

I don't know who I am. Really. I've been 16 different people, depending on who I'm around. Are they all me? Which one is most of me? I don't know....I even do it in the blog world, I'm a part of so many circles. I like to think this is because I truly love all kinds of people and I know that's true, but it's also because I'm a chameleon. Who am I?A people-pleaser at the core so I don't even know what my favorite color is. It's probably my best friend's favorite color. I want to find my own favorite color...

I had an alcoholic personality before I ever even took a drink-fear of intimacy, trust issues... keep it all easy, give it to me now now now, angry, oh so angry, keep everyone happy, go numb...

I was erasing myself a little at a time because of all of those things, the way they were stored at the back of my heart and mind, pressed back, put away. That's why I could only really begin to see them after I quit erasing myself. And you know what? Those things are not that horrible, that impossible, or that painful after all. I was fighting them back with alcohol. And now I see that facing my deeply rooted issues is definitely not as painful as erasing myself from my own family.

Ellie is right. What my boys need and want is me. Even with all of my disheartening realizations, I am their perfect mother, just as I am, sober.

Oh, the grace.

49 clicked right here to comment:

deb said...


This was wow.
And I send you hugs and prayers while you continue to find yourself, to get through all the times when you are feeling, and not erasing.

Ryley @ That's My Family! said...

This is so amazing. You are so amazing. I love how easily your words speak out loud.
You can do this...

Steph @Red Clay Diaries said...

So beautifully expressed.

I loved this:

I want to find my own favorite color...

I'm cheering you on in your search.

Lee of MWOB said...

Oh Heather. Between this and Maggie's piece, I sit here a bit confused myself.

Surrender is the theme of my life it seems. And definitely of my motherhood. Surrendering over and over again each and every day wishing I was better at this and trying to accept that it's okay that I'm not.

And while drinking is not something I struggle with, I struggle with other things that take me away. Mainly my mind. Always taking me elsewhere.....too many elsewheres.

Anyway - I'm rambling...and teary and well, this is a beautiful post and that's it.....

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Yes, just like what Lee said, drinking isn't what I struggle with, but God knows the many other things that for sure would apply. We all can relate to this story we try to tell ourselves or make ourselves believe. When really, we are the writers and get to decide how it all comes together in the end.


Lindsey said...

yes. And the grace is here to keep you afloat when you wonder if you can swim. You can. And those boys - wow, are they lucky. Incredibly.

love said...

oh, the grace.

thank you for sharing your honest, raw thoughts. i know that writing is part of you, for you....but wanted to say that i'm not just here being a voyeur on your life. i'm learning and applying to other areas of my life. so thankful for you.

AND i look forward to hearing about your favorite color. very much.

Corinne said...

I love yours and Ellie's words. They speak such great lengths about this whole thing...
It's the fear of me that kept me searching for that next drink. The fear that I wouldn't be able to be the chameleon you talked about. But being a chameleon isn't all that it's cracked up to be... I like just me a lot better.
Thank you for this, today. (and my bank account will NOT be thanking you for introducing me to Ellie!!!) :)

Deb said...

i think i know what you mean about the fog clearing. in situations of my own, once i acknowledged and surrendered, it was almost an automatic redemption and comfort that surrounded me. like you said, yes, difficult days would lie ahead, but there is something in that moment.

i was also struck by the paragraph about finding yourself. i identify so much with what you wrote, right down to the favorite color. i'll tell you mine, if you tell me yours first. i think i need a little self-discovery of my own, i think.

you are the perfect mother for those boys who are absolutely perfect for you.

wendy said...

Oh wow, Heather, that was pretty poignant for me.
People pleaser
My favorite color --is well,what is YOUR favorite color, cause I'll make it mine
at 58, I am still trying sooooo hard to find MYSELF
who am I
What do I like
What matters most to ME --and not to everyone else
you are such an inspiration to me my young friend.

Robin said...

I have found about 5 blogs in the past 2 weeks where we are all going through these same feelings. It absolutely amazes me that there are women out there, feeling EXACTLY all of the same raw, extreme, wonderful feelings about family and kids and new lives as sober people. Going through these feelings seemed so thrilling and exciting for me alone. But there are so many of us out there (not even just the 5 blogs I found...but so many more!) feeling these crazy good feelings, too. How reassuring, huh?

Ahhh, the pure joy I feel inside lately. I am glad I am not the only one. This is too good.

Boy Crazy said...

I don't even know how to adequately respond to this in my current state of exhaustion, so I'm just going to tell you that I'm here, and I'm listening. Thank you so much for sharing.

The imagery of the fog settling down and the murkiness being at your feet, so you could see, but you still had to deal with it -- that really helped me understand better what you're going through.

I love you, hon.

Arizona Mamma said...

Often when a post is lengthy I skim. I didn't skim. I am not an alcoholic, but your words resonate with me anyway. Your writing is heartfelt and it touches the soul. At least it does mine. I am honestly so happy to have found your blog recently.

Ellie said...

Oh, my. I'm crying for the second time today - first Maggie's post, and now yours. It's incredible to cry. It's incredible to FEEL. You put it so beautifully.

By far, the biggest gift I've gotten in sobriety is ME. I used to think that was so selfish, but it's not. I morphed so many ways for so many people I didn't know who I was. Then kids came along and they didn't need me to morph for them, they needed me to be there. To just BE. I didn't know how to do that, not at all. I drank to hide from the overwhelming shame and inadequacy I felt.

It was liked one day, as my fog settled (what perfect imagery) my actual self, my real self, stepped forward and introduced herself to me. She terrifies me, but like Corinne said - I like her much more.

Thank you so so much. You lift me up.


This Heavenly Life said...

I don't know my favorite color either. But I do know that I love you :)

Em said...

"It's probably my best friend's favorite color. I want to find my own favorite color..."

Oh how I adore this.

I love what "love" said above - you're an incredible teacher. I'm learning. I'm learning.

Thank you.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

You have a powerful gift of communication, Heather. I see what you see when you write it -- as best another person can.

Praying for you everyday.

Bina said...

Beautifully stated...both by you and the wise friend that is helping you along the way.

I will be giving a talk at my church soon re the mind of an addict...because I think that all too often, the addicted are written off by those who can't understand them...who can't love them because the addicted make "no sense". As I go back into the mind of where I've come from, I realize that the one thing that pulls us addicted up and out is: grace.

Love you...much

Angie said...

I have lost count on the number of times I have read this post. Not because it makes no sense, because you have pulled me into your world and shown me what your life is, what your struggle is again. I realized I was trying to understand it, to get what it must be like. And I realized that I can't because I haven't been there, and that's okay.

What I can tell you is that I love you. I pray for you every. single. day. more than once. I am with you reading and re-reading, crying and laughing and praying for each discovery you make as you seek to draw the pictures of your life in indelible ink.

I love you.

Jenn @ A Country Girl's Ramblings said...


Rebecca said...

"I don't even know what my favorite color is. It's probably my best friend's favorite color. I want to find my own favorite color..."

You hit the nail on the head. Finding out who you are is a never ending process, I believe. It feels as if life just has too much to it a lot of the time, constantly shifting and changing.

Remember though, that kids are extremely forgiving. I look at mine and they love me completely, even though I'm horribly imperfect. They may threaten to run away at times, but underneath it all I am their mommy and nothing can ever replace that.

It's the same for you, Heather dear!

MidnightCafe said...

I want you to know that your words speak to WAY more than alcoholism. They speak to all of us who find ways to not be fully present in our own lives and who are trying to always be the right person in each situation, pleasing everybody, all the time. This is some kind of universal truth you've found...and you've written it beautifully.

Unknown Mami said...

Wow. This entire is beautifully articulated by both you and Ellie. I do not have an addiction problem, but I love a recovering heroin addict (my brother) and this really spoke to me.

Thank you for writing this.

Rachel said...


i'm a child of two alcoholics, one when I was a small child, the other as an adult.

This was a powerful, beautiful, fantastic read.

Thank you

To Think is to Create said...

Adore you. Reading honest writing makes me have belly butterflies. I have them now. xoxo

Heather said...

For so many years I was a chameleon-mostly because I thought I would be a better mother if I was like the other mothers I saw at the play ground. I always second guessed myself and I hated to be alone. I had to be on the phone with somone or doing something with someone else.

I have lost a lot of friends this past year and a half. I am comfortable by myself. All the thoughts and 'voices' swirling through my head don't overwhelm me anymore. I am content.

I wish you contentment. I pray that you will discover who you are in this incredibly strong journey you are taking. You are awesome, powerful and perfect...just as He made you.

Much love.

Heidi said...

How many of us have also tried to erase ourselves from our lives, because of our own perceived flaws and shortcomings?


Thank you for sharing the intimacy of this struggle. As many before have said, "I might not struggle with alcohol"...and yet I know that you and I are more the same than different.

I am praying for you.

ttmcconnell said...

This hits home for me (as do a lot of your other posts). Thank you for sharing-you are making an impact on many others with your story.

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

You are a beautiful writer. I am so glad to know you here.

I'm a recovering people pleaser myself (and oh so many other things). I was once told that people pleasing is just another form of dishonesty. Somehow this idea makes it simpler for me. I want to live an honest life. It's not always comfortable, but there's peace there.

Rach@In His Hands said...

Cheering for you, Heather.

MoziEsmé said...

So much wisdom in this - and something we all need to hear - alcohol in the picture or not. I've had my own forms of erasing myself - and wondering if my daughter would be better off without me in the picture...

Heather of the EO said...

As I wrote this I thought about moms in general and wondered if we all do this to some extent. And as so many of you have said here, you don't drink, but you do other things to erase you, because of feeling inadequate or scared, etc.

This is big. I wish I had all the answers. Maybe they'll come.

Love to you all.

MommaKiss said...

I can't get to your blog at work - so it takes me a while to pop on by.
I love reading your words, through your journey. I'm a new reader, though, and have enjoyed your older posts, too. I think you are still YOU. Just with a clearer outlook. It's incredible to witness.

Jae said...

hugs!!! the fog will eventually dissipate ... hang in there and keep on keeping on. you're doing wonderfully. :)

Melanie J said...

I think you are really, really brave because you're facing the fears. All of them. And you deserve the blessings.

amanda said...

just wanting you to know i am here and sending hugs. big ones. always.

seekingclarav said...

Amazing post, thank you. I identify so deeply with all that you said. Even though I "know that I am not alone" in sobriety, it can feel lonely, and sometimes it's comforting to hear my fears in others. Does that make sense?

Anyway, thanks again.

TKW said...

YES. To everything. Thank you.

Ashleigh (Heart and Home) said...

Your honesty shakes me to my core. Because we all erase.

Praying for you daily, Heather... and seeing myself more and more in your story every day.

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

I can't even begin to explain to you how many times I've 'erased', too. But, did I really? Because my kids still remember. My husband still remembers. I think we can do our best to forget these faults, these hiccups, these parts that make us who we are that we hate, but they never go away, because we wouldn't be who we are without them, despite how badly we hate them.

This post speaks to me, like others before me, on so many levels. It may not be about alcoholism for us, but about motherhood, accepting faults, and living with acceptance for our children's sake.

You are so right, we are perfect enough already for our kids, our husbands.

Gah, my mind is spinning over this. Spinning. In a good-but-dizzying, I-want-to-throw-up, it-is-so-much-the-truth, I-don't-know-which-way-is-up kind of way.

april said...

I love you, friend. {{HUGS}}

Becky said...

Once again, thank you for being so honest. I think that you touch more people than you know.

And I loved what you said about being a chameleon. I'm exactly like that and am currently working on changing it. I don't necessarily want to overwhelm people with me-ness, but I do want to feel comfortable being me in any company.

alita said...

I have no words right now. Which almost seems pointless in a comment, but your post... moved me.

Debbie said...

I am so often at a loss for comments for you right now. I don't want to say anything trite or silly. But do know that I am here loving and supporting you.

Keyona said...

Heather, I've Bren absent for a while but you have been in my thoughts often. I have learned that God has made US the best mommy for our babies. We are meant for them. It's up to us what to do with that. Oh how I love you girl!

Sheryl said...

seriously i had to remind myself to breathe as i was reading this.

no words, just wanted you to know that i was here.

Eowyn said...

I'm going to be thinking about this for the rest of the day. . .probably longer.

Powerful post.

mama-face said...

I don't even know how to express my feelings. Hopefully that is enough to let you know how I do feel.

You speak my heart so many times.

L.T. Elliot said...

I don't have this same ache, this same struggle. But all these words--they fill me and surround me and spear me. So many of my own little truths lost inside of your profound insight and I find my own grace in that. I'm trying not to erase myself but sometime's it's so hard to stop wanting to.

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