Her Hand

mother and daughterI was lying on the floor next to her bed. Her little hand reached toward me from the comfort and furry pinkness of her blanket; both of us quiet, almost asleep really. The energy of her touch awakened me. I remember sitting up and looking, just looking trance-like and contented at her hand cradled in my palm. How precious was that little hand.

My first thought was of gratitude. How thankful I felt that she was here. Here in our home. My mind wandered to all the parents who had lost their children. I felt a moment of horror. I said my thank you.  For all I have endured in sobriety, the loss of a child has not been one of them.

I tumbled her 10 year old hand in mine. I weaved our mismatched fingers together. Here, now asleep, before me was this beautiful life. This incredible person that had been gifted to me from the Universe. How fortunate I was.

Then for unknown reasons I felt guilty. I felt unworthy. Where was this coming from? I stayed with the thought. I let it speak to me.

Guilt:” You don’t deserve her. You have been a selfish and drunk mother. You owe me for allowing you to keep her.”

Me: “I owe you? What could I possibly owe you?”

Guilt: “A lifetime of feeling me.”

Me: “Of what value does that serve?”

Guilt: “It keeps me alive and I want to live.”

Me: “So I must live my life feeling you? This is my penance for having been a drunken mom?”

Guilt: “Yes”

Me: “Why must I keep you alive? Since when has this become part of my mission?”

Guilt: “Since forever—since the beginning.”

Me: “So who says you have to stay forever?”

Guilt: “You do.”

Me: “Then I un-choose you.”

Guilt: “It’s not that simple. I am welcome anytime you choose me. And you always, eventually choose me.”

Me: “Fine, then beginning right now, this moment, I un-choose you. So go away.”

Guilt: “That’s okay. I’ll be back. You always welcome me back.”

Me: “I will work at not welcoming you. And trust me, one day you will no longer be rooted so deeply.”

I looked at my little girl’s hand.  I touched the tips of her fingers. I felt the life force move through her. She was one year old when I got sober. She doesn’t remember me “drinking.” She remembers much, but not the drinking. Recovery was hard on my children. Seems we grew up together. The absence of alcohol doesn’t make a perfect mommy. It only makes a mommy that doesn’t drink alcohol. I had a lot to learn.

How incredible was this moment? I am sober. I am recovered from a hopeless state of mind. I am no longer obsessed with drinking alcohol. I am free.

It can no longer be about the moments I missed.
That time is gone.
It can only be about this moment.

Who am I being now?

What am I bringing now?

If I don’t choose love then I have chosen love’s opposite. And love’s opposite isn’t welcome here anymore. And this I work on every day.

Who would have thought one little hand could yield so much thought?


I want to dedicate this post to The Miracles Around the Corner. She is celebrating one year of continuous sobriety today. She’s an inspiration for any mom struggling to find herself in sobriety. Happy Anniversay … it is a BIG DEAL.

No Responses to “Her Hand

  • I couldnt think of a better dedication for today’s writing. Thanks for this post and thank you for the time and effort you put into writing. It truly does help!

    • Thank you for the kind words. I agree with your sentiment on the dedication. AND I can’t do it without you. Thank you for your sobriety and encouragement. You make my sobriety sweeter.

  • Lisa,
    Part of my story is losing a child. And when I tell my story, sometimes I get from people, I could never survive losing a child. And the first time I tried to stay clean and sober during the anniversary, I put one foot in front of the other, and continued down the path, not knowing I could survive it until it was over. But survive it I did.
    And it is terrible to lose a child, but I also see how God drew me to Himself before it happened, and how eventually I learned to know God more deeply through the experience. I take the path God sets before me, and it isn’t always an easy path, but God is WITH ME.
    I would love to have my son beside me, but even he is a gift. We continue down the path, and as you said, we continually banish guilt from beside us.


    • Sally,
      That just blew my mind. Your perspective is incredibly moving. I have met other sober women who have lost their children. I dare not think about it except to be thankful. I know that every sober struggle I have ever had has drawn me closer to God. Why do I think I am so fragile? Yes, I love how you say, “God is WITH ME.” And so shall he be with me. All my love for sharing these words today, not only for me but for the readers. Thank you for showing me that sobriety is possible—regardless. It is beautiful to feel your strength and see the love of God written upon your heart. You made my day!
      Lovely, Lisa

  • Beautiful, terrifying and comforting. Thank you.

    • RM1,
      I love when people can share in my beauty,terror, and be comforted. I am fortunate to have found my way in sobriety. Thank you for coming over. I love when you leave a comment. Lisa

  • I am at a complete loss for words right now. I came home a bit ago from getting my one year coin, felt great, got onto my blog, and responded to the comments, felt even more amazing. See a new entry from you, think, “ooh, icing on the cake of today, a new post from Lisa!” Pictured my 10 year old’s son’s hand the whole time I was reading, had tears in my eyes. And then… I read the dedication. I am so overwhelmed, I am affected physically. I am humbled and grateful, and I wish I could express how much I appreciate your support.

    • You always express appreciation—for everything. I know that is why I gravitate toward you. You pull me to higher ground. xox Lisa

  • Thank you so much for this when i decided to get sober my youngest was 3 months old and my oldest was 2 and a half years old. I had two older ones that i lost or sould i say taking from me because i was using. Many times the voice of Guilt has talk to me or with me still does at times. Anyway i want to say thank you tonite for making me smile and proud of the work i have then because my daugthers… the 2 little hands that helped me grow with them and accept me just the way i am.

    • D.,
      I love these words you expressed. I, too, feel grateful. It’s such an honor to have you here and commenting. You are a mentor for me. Thank you. Lisa

  • Hi Lisa. I’m a sober single dad raising a ten-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son. Even though both of my children came later in life and years after I became sober, I still occasionally suffer “the guilts,” or more accurately, the “I’m-not-worthies,” when I sit and look at my kids. But, like you, I beat them both back with affirmations. I not only deserve those children, but they are a big part of how I freely give back to a world from which I took so much. Thanks for a great post.

    • Kayko, I love this comment (and your blog btw). The “I’m not worthies” hits the nail straight on the head. It still amazes me that I actually thought I only had, “a little drinking problem.” Please know that your writing has, and continues to, inspire me in sobriety. When I grow up I want to be like you. You teach me much and I am grateful for those who walked this path in front of me. You made it safer. You taught me that I could face those demons and stay sober doing it. With abundant gratitude. Lisa
      Friends Kayko’s site

  • This made me cry. Wow, Lis. You are amazing.

  • Your daughter has one very special mom! The moment you are speaking of is one of awareness, the most beautiful ones one can experience and keep hold of them dearly as a reminder of the wonderful world and life we have, moment by moment. I loved to read about your deep understanding and appreciation. Guilt is such a classical feeling especially to parents, everyone comes up with their tool to deal with it and you found a very good one, the one of reasoning with it and keeping an open dialogue with your inner-thoughts. Theirs a lot to learn from your post, thanks for sharing it 🙂

    • What a joy and honor to hear your words. You are another that always inspires me. When I drank I kept lower companionship. Seems in sobriety I keep higher companionship. Thank you for including me in your world. Your writing always makes me think deeply. Lisa

  • Lovely post, Lisa. I especially liked:

    “It can no longer be about the moments I missed.
    That time is gone.
    It can only be about this moment.”

    Cherishing the children–a great way to anchor ourselves in the present.

    Thank you!


    • Susan, Thank you for the sweet reminder. I have already been swept away with past thoughts since this post. I’ll remain vigilante. How are you?

  • Very touching. My son was 3 1/2 when I got sober. Whether or not he remembers the drinking is something I don’t dwell on. I just know that the best gift I can give him and his brother is being the best father I can be. The guilt of what I did in my drinking days when he was around isn’t something that I indulge, but it does seep into my conscience now and then and ties a tight noose around me sometimes. But I unbind that rope with love, self-forgiveness and knowing that I am sober today. Part of my sobriety is being there for them and showing them what it’s like to show up for themselves and others – flawed, imperfect and still brimming with hope and strength. Guilt, along with it’s step siblings shame and remorse, only serve to tie me to the past, to stop me from moving forward and growing spiritually. My boys, and all children, show me how to live – with gusto, honesty (maybe too honest at times!), unabashed passion and a gentleness that everything is going to be ok.

    Thanks for the wonderful post.

    • CTM,
      Thank you for your words of experience. I love the visual of “unbinding the rope with love, self-forgiveness …” Yes, yes, you reminded me they do teach “the moment.” Just started to follow your blog. I still have much to learn. L

  • Oh Lisa, this is such a beautiful, powerful post. I like the voice you gave to guilt. It made me angry at guilt, which of course is silly because my guilt is me. Thank you for this thought provoking piece.

    • I learned this technique of dialogue about 4 years into sobriety. It helped me more than anything. (Love 12-step, just needed more + more + more). I’m glad it worked for you. This is one of the tools I use in the book, so I am always happy when it resonates. TY for commenting. Always enjoy your thoughts. L.

  • The beauty of this post took my breath away Lisa. You are so talented and you’re such an angel.

    “I un-choose you.” Yes! I have said this many times to the Darkness that beckons me back. Consciously choosing the Light and choosing it consistently has definitely helped me stay sober. Things are either Light or they are Dark, and if I am not choosing Light, then that means I’m choosing Dark.

    Lovely lovely post my friend. xoxo

    • C, Your words are too generous. I think the same you so I don’t know why I struggle to see it in me. I really just want so much to help. I feel blessed to feel, you know, just “feel” my freakin life. I thought is was going to be so horrible (and at moments it can be horrible), but it’s mostly amazing. You have been a good friend. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. How’s the pup?

      • Right now she is happy as a full tick, because she just finished an early yummy dinner. Aside from the swollen lymph nodes, you would never know that something was up because she’s as happy-go-lucky as she always is. Though, between you and me, I think she’s getting a little Diva complex from all of the extra spoiling. 😉 That’s okay, she’s worth it. I drop her off first thing tomorrow for her procedure, and then we just wait for the results and next steps.

        Thank you for asking.

        And you are helping, so very many people’s lives are enriched because you are you are in them. You matter. 🙂

  • This was gorgeous, Lisa. I love the idea of ‘un-choosing’ guilt.

    I was already sober when I decided to have children, but I still feel guilt for so, so many things I did when I was drinking. Maybe it’s time for me to un-choose that.


  • “A lifetime of feeling me.” Wow. This post gave me the chills.

    • (With my fingers crossed) …. chills in a good way or a not so good way? I hope the former. Thanks for coming by. xox

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