Dear Annie: I am an addict in recovery.
I moved out of state three years ago when I was seeking treatment and completed my program 15 months ago. I have successfully maintained employment for more than a year now.
My three children are still living back home with their grandparents, five states away. I lost custody because of my addiction. I tried returning home, but couldn’t find a job there. I am divorced, and their father is still active in his addiction, which leaves all responsibility for supporting the family on me.
I have allowed this situation to intimidate me to the point where I have stopped trying to regain custody. I justify this by saying as long as I am contributing financially, I’m doing all I can. But the reality is, I am becoming emotionally detached from my children and no longer desire to be the mother they deserve. The last time I became emotional, it set me back a few months.
I feel so helpless at this point. I have been actively pursuing another job closer to them, but have been unsuccessful.
What would you recommend in a situation like this? I don’t want to lose all I have worked so hard for. I spent two years in an in-patient treatment center to make sure I got my recovery right, and I feel as though I am losing it all anyway. — Guilty in Washington
Dear Guilty: It is overwhelming to deal with sobriety and custody at the same time. Take little steps. First reconnect with your children in whatever small way you can — visits, phone calls, pictures, emails and letters. You must relearn how to be part of their daily lives.
Don’t expect the moon. This takes time.
Continue to look for employment closer to them, but as long as the grandparents are willing to raise the kids, allow them to do so until you are more comfortable with the responsibility.
But please don’t give up on being a major presence in their lives, even from a distance.