Newly sober mom regrets pain she caused her family

Published 9:55 am Friday, September 18, 2020

DEAR ABBY: After smoking marijuana for 20 years, I quit two days ago. My head is starting to clear now, and things are coming into focus. I missed so much, and I feel terrible about it.
How many times did I say no to my kids because I was lazy? How many times have I yelled at them for just asking a question? My 6-year-old would have this frightened look because he wanted something and I yelled because he interrupted me from doing nothing.
I was at my in-laws’ on Father’s Day and started yelling at my husband for getting mad at me because I told his father, “Heck, you’re not my dad, so what do I care?” The neighbors heard me, I’m sure. My father-in-law didn’t even come out of his bedroom, and I’m sure my husband won’t forget it.
Although I’m not the nicest to him at times, he loves me. I can be downright disrespectful, and my kids see this. It’s the reason I quit smoking. Almost daily, I hear my 13-year-old say, “Stop yelling, Mom,” or, “Why are you yelling, Mom?” I have so many regrets.
Can I make up for them? What can I do so my kids will remember good times and not just me yelling? Not sure where or how to start erasing the bad. Any advice would be appreciated. — SMOKE IS CLEARING
DEAR SMOKE: You have already taken the first step in making it up to your family by admitting your smoking was hurting them and quitting. The next step will be to apologize to each of your family members for your behavior and let them know you know it was wrong and hurtful and that it won’t continue.
The last steps may be the most difficult. Resolve not to lapse back into the old patterns, do whatever is necessary to prevent it and join a support group if necessary. I wish you success in your sobriety.
DEAR ABBY: My brother and sister-in-law adopted their child at birth. It was something I assumed the baby would grow up knowing. Unfortunately, it has never been revealed to the child, and the “child” is now practically an adult. I know it isn’t my place to say anything, but the truth hangs over me like a dark cloud, and I feel complicit in the lie.
My children, who are younger, don’t know, and I worry that if they ever discover it, they will think my partner and I are liars and resent us for not being honest all these years.
This is a sensitive subject to broach to my brother and his wife. I have tried and been met with yelling and tears. Is there anything to be done at this point? — GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION
DEAR GUILTY: Although I wholeheartedly agree that children who are adopted should be told at an early age, the decision to reveal or withhold that information resides with the parents, not you. At some point, their child may need accurate information for medical reasons.
How your children could think you and your partner are liars for not telling them something that’s really none of their business mystifies me. There is NOTHING for you to do at this point, so please resist the urge to venture further into this minefield.
TO MY READERS: As the sun sets tonight, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins. As we begin this time of solemn introspection, let me wish you all, “L’shana tova tikatevu” — may you be inscribed in the Book of Life and have a good year. — Love, ABBY
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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