Friday, May 28, 2010

I See You

I had a moment this morning.

Greta was part of a first grade Memorial Day presentation today.   The whole grade shuffled into the auditorium, the parents craning their necks to find their kid.    The children took to the stage, dressed in red, white and blue and smiling gap-toothed smiles.    Greta's class came in towards the end, and Steve and I grinned when we saw Greta, waving our hands over our heads.   She flushed bright red, gave us a small wave, but her eyes were beaming with pride.

There was a slide presentation set to music, songs and poems, and each kid had their moment on the screen, saying a line about the Liberty Bell, the American Flag, or the importance of Memorial Day.  I watched with my heart in my throat, tears pricking at my eyes.

I marveled at Greta, standing in the back with the other tall kids, sneaking glances our way, and pretending to be embarrassed when I blew her silent kisses.  There was my proud, strong, beautiful girl, surrounded by her friends, singing her heart out.

That's when I had my moment.   A wave of gratitude so strong a tear rolled down my cheek.    I almost missed this, I thought.  I almost threw all of this away.  

I know it must seem I can make anything about recovery, and by default about me, but this is really about Grace.   In my darkest moments of despair, stuck in the dark, deep hole of addiction, I could never have imagined this moment.  

When I was drinking, I spent my days afraid, feeling unworthy of the love of my children.    I didn't know how to be a mother, or at least I thought I didn't.   I felt stuck, alone, entangled in the constant needs of a 3 year old and a baby, drained of life force, of purpose.    I went through the motions, prayed for the end of the day and the sweet oblivion of wine.    I longed to erase myself, to slowly edge away from the center of their love.

Greta was nervous about the performance today.   She kept talking about it, working over the details in her mind.   "I'll look for you, Momma,"  she said again and again.   "You'll be able to see me, I'll be up on the stage, near the back row."

"I'll be there," I said, absentmindedly.  "Don't worry, I'll see you."

The power of that sentence hit me today.   I'm here.   I see you.   I really, really see you.

The past couple of weeks I have been blessed to be in the presence of women, mothers, who are struggling to get sober.   I'm standing by, trying to prop them up as they grapple with their fears: of admitting the truth, of being present, of not being enough.

I watch as they square their shoulders, stick their chin up and walk into meetings feigning courage they don't really feel.   I watch as they break down their denial, choke on their words, and admit their powerlessness.

They can't see it, but I can:  a glimmer of hope, a tiny flame of grace inside them that refuses to be blown out.      

As they surrender themselves to that grace, to the comforting arms of strangers who understand, I say to them what was said to me:  You matter.  Under all this fear and darkness is Grace.   You are full of Grace.  

I'm here, and I see you.


  1. That was beautiful and exactly what I need to read this morning!! thank you for your grace & courage.

  2. Your efforts at sobriety are a big part of your life. You don't have to apologize for that. Your gratefulness is beautiful.

  3. Please keep talking. Your posts are gems that I collect to support my own recovery. I don't know you but you are making an enormous difference in my life...thanks!

  4. Grace is such a gift. So are you my friend.
    I was in tears at the end of this post.

  5. So, so beautiful.
    And everything does have to do with recovery - because we're here and doing the things that we're doing because of it.

  6. Oh Ellie-I got all teary. I must be having a feeling, I'd better go smoke. Your clarity is a gift. Thanks for fanning the flame of sobriety during those first few days. I now have a lovely campfire of grace on which to melt s'mores. Amy

  7. So beautiful and so true. What I've found in recovery is that once I put down the object of my addiction I had to deal with life. I couldn't be a totally present mother because I was always planning my next binge and trying to get alone so I'd be free to have it. Gratitude at our daily reprieve belongs everywhere we are.

  8. Ellie, you brought mega tears to my eyes. How important it is that we really SEE our children and let them feel that. You are a gifted writer with a beautiful heart!

  9. *tear* I love hearing these stories. I love being present in the lives of my children today. I am so grateful. thank you for sharing

  10. Ellie, this just brought tears to my eyes! I am so thankful to have found you and thankful that you are willing to share your heart and soul! You truly give me hope that I will one day be able to be completely present for my kiddos. You help keep me motivated on this journey! THANK YOU!!