June 3, 2011

I’m shocked that he remembers…

Can we go in there, Mommy?


I want a sucker.

Where do you get a sucker, I don’t understand?

He’s pointing across the parking lot, to a strip mall. I look up to see the liquor store and my heart sinks to my feet. No, honey…we can’t go in there.


Because that’s a liquor store and I don’t drink alcohol anymore.

Then he blows me away. Mommy, if you saw the wine in there, it would make you want to drink it?

Yes. That’s true. It would.

After that, maybe it was a rising up of things buried, of things I thought I had forgotten, heavy feelings of regret, I don’t know. But I could not stop crying. I drove and cried and remembered and even though it hurt, it’s good to remember so we don’t have to go back.

They were so vivid, the memories of walking the aisles of the liquor store with two small kids with me. Don’t touch. That’s glass. Don’t touch. Be careful. And I would hurry and hurry and try not to think about how I couldn’t not be in there, how I couldn’t not drink. How I had to take my boys with me, during the day, so my too often trips wouldn’t be so obvious to Ryan. And I would feel the shame, the Anaconda guilt wrapping itself around my heart while I tried to make the stressful and hurried walking of the aisles fun by always asking for suckers when we got to the counter.

It’s not fun to be buckled in and out of seats and then carted through the parking lot to walk through aisles of glass. To witness your mother’s anxiety, her shifting eyes, so often. Of course they were small, they probably didn’t know or feel what I’m afraid they felt. Maybe they did, maybe not, I don’t know. I only know what it felt like to hope not, to wish we didn’t have to be there…to know that I had taken it too far, that I was addicted, that I could not let go and I was taking them with me; inside a store and inside my disease. All the many nights of my disease.

It just welled up today and it came out. A year and a half later and there I was, stone sober, staring with my boys at a store of glass and saying no to the suckers that were supposed to make it fun. Saying no to the wine that was supposed to keep me going.

There is so much weight to this, even behind the questions of a boy going on six. His silence from the back seat speaks of deep thoughts and the questions keep coming.  I explain in a way he can understand and something like peace floats up because of truth.

And the suffocating snake
it whispers,
Be careful
don’t touch.
You’ll shatter

like glass. 


Erica@PLRH June 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Oh Heather, this post brought back a flood of memories for me. You see, I used to be one of those children in the liquor store with their mother. But that was over 30 years ago and my mother has been sober ever since.

I can’t ever understand your pain. But I’m so very proud of you. Just like I’m proud of my Mom. She had a choice to make. Drinking or her family. She chose us. I love her even more each and every time I think of that. She chose us.

Suebob June 3, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Well, darn it, now you’re BOTH making me cry. In a good way.
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Heather June 4, 2011 at 7:12 am

Thank you, Erica.
(Thank you doesn’t seem like enough. Because it’s not often I get to hear from someone with your story and perspective and hear what it means to you. And it means the freaking world to me. So beyond thank you, truly.)

suzi June 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm

So beautiful and so touching. You are amazing. That anaconda guilt should be replaced with the anaconda pride of how awesome you are. The end. :)

Ellie June 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm

This is so beautiful, Heather. Heartbreaking, too, in a way I know very well.

For months after I stopped drinking, every time we drove by the local convenience store, my kids would ask why we weren’t stopping at the “red fish store”. Because, you see, the kindly older man who owned the store would always give them free Swedish Fish while I was in there buying my liter bottle of cheap white wine and averting his eyes.

Oh, the shame.

But look at us now — driving by the store. We will keep on driving by, and those memories of the red fish, the suckers and the glass will fade from their memories, replaced by all the wonderful, real memories we’re making today.

Love you.

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Nicole @ Rare Bird June 3, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Thank you. Just thank you.
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deb June 3, 2011 at 2:44 pm

love you.

Sarah June 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

This is beautiful. I keep trying to put into words all the ways it’s beautiful and I can’t. :) So I’ll just say it’s beautiful and I know exactly how you feel and … it’s beautiful.
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Jenn June 3, 2011 at 2:54 pm

WOW! So proud of you! Don’t let that snake of guilt pull you down. You chose to walk away. To kick the addiction in the shins and just look at all the power you have gained. You are strong and share such a great story of healing for many!
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Kaycee June 3, 2011 at 2:57 pm

This gives me chills. It is so beautifully written, so sad and yet so happy and hopeful and beautiful at the same time. Sad for where you were and what you had to go through. Sad for the feelings you will always have to handle regarding it. But so happy and so beautiful for where you are now. For the way you handled talking about it. For the way he understood. For the way you put your words together and paint such a vivid picture. You should be so very proud of how far you have come, the choices you have made, the battle you fight, and the words that you share with us.

Kori June 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Hugs; that’s it. Been there, they remember a lot more than you think (at least mine have) and somehow? It’s all just the way it is and you get through it. Another hug just for good measure.

Amelia Sprout June 3, 2011 at 3:31 pm

You’re giving him such a gift by being able to talk about it with him. Extraordinary indeed.

Two and a half weeks and counting down fast. :)
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Kim June 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm

This is so touching. I love you so very much.
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MichelleRenee June 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm

From the child whose mother chose the wine and not her family.

Thank you.
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Heather June 4, 2011 at 7:09 am

OH Michelle,
Thank YOU. Thank you for reminding me how much this sobriety thing matters. It can be hard to remember sometimes, believe it or not.

I’m sorry your mom could not/would not stop. I’m just so sorry.

Jenny P. June 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I love your words so much, Heather. And your willingness to open yourself and your heart and just speak. I know with a very clear certainty that you will lift and help and strengthen others… that there is a mission in this for you. I am so glad that you are so brave, and so glad that I have the opportunity to know you. There are many bloggers that I know and love, but oh, how I would love to share a lunch date with you. Maybe someday, friend. I hope. :)

Heather June 4, 2011 at 7:07 am

I would love that lunch date, lady.
I’m believing it’ll happen :)

Issa June 3, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Huge hugs honey. You are amazing.

This may sound silly…but maybe it’s time to make a new sucker memory. Say the grocery store. They have suckers. They have slurpees. You could start a new tradition. A summer thing. Maybe, just maybe a new memory made would help.
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Issa June 3, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I meant a gas station or 7-11. Sigh.
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Heather June 4, 2011 at 7:06 am

Not silly at all, Issa. And I knew what you meant :)
That’s the beauty of life, huh? Making new traditions and routines and rituals–healthy ones, after learning the hard way. So yeah, not a silly suggestion at all.


Sharone@Zizzivivizz June 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Your kids might remember these things, and maybe more–but they’ll also always remember that you put the wine bottles behind you, and that what helped to pull you out of that dark place was how very much you loved them. And that memory will stick far longer and mean far more.

Hugs to you, keep speaking truth and letting that peace float up.

Alyson (New England Living) June 3, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Wow, amazing post, Heather! I LOVE it! Thank you for sharing this. And I love the line…”and something like peace floats up because of truth”. That is perfect! The message I’m trying to send with my abuse blog is just that. Bringing the truth into the light and not keeping secrets is the key to freedom and happiness.

Heather June 4, 2011 at 7:04 am

Hi Alyson!

Yes. Truth. Transparency. Honesty.
Oh, the freedom.

When I first got sober, a recovering alcoholic friend sent me an email that said “shame is like mold, it can only grow in the dark. When it’s brought to the light, it can’t live.” (or something like that…it’s been a long time) :) Anyway…I still struggle with shame. I mean, anyone who has carried shame knows it’s hard to kick…but it can’t GROW anymore and that’s beautiful. The truth will not allow it.

I’m so happy for you too, that you’re able to freely speak of your past and its pain–to take the power from it.


Bonnie June 3, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Thank you for this honest and brave post! I have enormous respect for you ability to face this.

Andrea (Lil-Kid-Things) June 3, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Ugh this cuts right through me. Just a beautiful amazing story about the choices we make and how they affect everyone. So proud of you for making new choices. And to the first commenter, I am so glad your mom chose you. What an immense love.
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Amy @ Never-True Tales June 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Oh, amazing.

Kids drag us back where we don’t want to go, and lead us where we do. And they remember, but not in the way I imagine you fear they do. They just remember purely, in their own shards of understanding, not yours.
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Heather June 4, 2011 at 7:01 am

This comment. Yes. Just…yes. Exactly. So true. So profoundly true.
Thank you for being you, for just getting it and saying it.

Ann June 3, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Another completely baffling-ly beautiful post. So proud of you my friend.
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anymommy June 3, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Painfully gorgeous.

Adventures In Babywearing June 3, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I’m so glad you’re on this side of the glass. Love you, so proud, because i am not sure if that was me that I would be where you are now.

(LoL that is what autocorrect made my name… I meant Steph) :)
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SarahBee @ My Own Beeswax June 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm

What wise words come from the hearts and memories of little ones. Thank you for sharing your story. I read it several times with my heart in my throat, gasping at the enormity of emotion you must feel.
Much love, Heather <3
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Cheairs June 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm

So honest and so beautiful. Where I live you can buy wine at Target. So I would make up excuses to “run” to Target and take my little one down the wine aisle with me.

The beauty now of going to target is that I can “recover” those moments that I lost with my little girl when I would go down that aisle. We spend more time picking our what type of Goldfish we are going to buy(Flavor Blasted or Rainbow) and “recover” the time that I would have spent shuffling her to the store to get the wine. Instead or “running to the story” we read a book or watcha video together. That is the beauty I have found in recovery. I know your sadness. You are not alone in how you feel. I can honestly say I get it. But there is a miracle- a grace in your recovery. It is sweet just like that lollipop. It sparkles when you unwrap it and it is like a magic wand when you twist it around in your hand. I truly believe that this “recovery” can ward off any snake that might sneek up. Grace vs. Snake. Grace wins!!!

Thank you for your beautiful words. I can not begin to tell you how much your words- your writing have helped me in my “recovery” so that the “snake” does not sneek up. So that I will not break. I thank you!

Heather June 4, 2011 at 6:59 am

Oh lady,
wine at Target? That would be the end of me :)

Thank you for your words, for connecting here and for letting me know that my story has been a part of your story. It’s a beautiful thing, how we sober sisters have found each other from all over the place.


Laura June 3, 2011 at 8:38 pm

…”and something like peace floats up because of truth”. I explained to someone struggling through a time of lies that I see truth as the bubbles in the darkness of a cola drink, & they bubble up a little at a time, then someone shakes up the cola (perhaps when something hidden is discovered) & the truth explodes out of the darkness, usually making a mess, but revealed anyway.

What a beautiful post you shared with the world, & I’m always so impressed with your bravery!! Thank you for being so open & helping so many.

My own kids amaze me often with their insight–yours, too, I’d imagine! Now you are welcoming a third beautiful child as a part of your own rebirth–what a gift indeed!!


Heather June 4, 2011 at 6:58 am

“now you are welcoming a third child as a part of your rebirth-what a gift indeed!”

Thank you for that. YES. Just thank you. :)

Hyacynth June 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Heather, your words, honest and beautiful, are extraordinary. Sending you many prayers and a whole lotta love.
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Alexandra June 4, 2011 at 12:56 am

How can I say this, so as not to take away from your post.

It’s not just the alcohol that is the disease, and makes your heart wrench from the pain.

There are other things, too.

For me, my PPD, is something I still can’t forgive myself for.

All the years my little guys had no smiles…all the years of learning to do things so mommy wouldn’t disappear intothe bedroom.

My little guy, at age 3 asked me, “mama,,,remember when you’d go and lay down and we had to watch ourselves? What was wrong with you.”

How do we forgive ourselves????

Heather June 4, 2011 at 6:56 am

Firstly, you’re not taking away from this post or my story.

I think it’s amazing that they talk to us about it. It’s like they just simply understand in this pure way that we aren’t perfect and they don’t expect it. They won’t go on through life expecting us to hurt them all the time, I really believe that. Because we’re striving and loving them and getting through the hard stages when we’re just too broken to get it right. And maybe that’s all we can do, is be here now, and watch as they unfold into just the amazing people they are meant to be despite of and because of our failings.

I don’t know that I’ll ever fully forgive myself to be honest. I hate admitting that, but I think as mothers, that’s just how much we love our children. We just so badly wish we could take the hard things back. And when we remember them vividly (anything, not just visits to the liquor store) it will always hurt. Like I said in my post, I guess I’m glad…because it reminds me to take care of myself, to not go back there…to keep being honest and going forward even when it would be really easy to think I’m fine and go backward.

Sorry for the terribly long response. Am wordy.


Maggie, dammit June 4, 2011 at 7:22 am

Two candy machines right in the front door of mine. I guess they do that on purpose? I’d never really thought about it before. But you know it was the same for me and mine.

Thanks for bringing it back for me today. You do this all so beautifully.


Polly (5th Sister) June 4, 2011 at 9:04 am

Wow…so eloquent and beautiful writing about something so ugly and scarring. You struck a chord with me on this one dear Heather. You see, where I live we can buy wine in our grocery stores. I would always send the kids off to pick out their special cereal, poptarts, juice, snack or treat to keep them occupied while I perused the wine and beer aisle. I had forgotten about that until just now. The things we do to hide it from them and ourselves. My daughter (now 16) and I talked about this just last night. She knew where all my hiding places were. She remembers how happy she felt the first time she couldn’t find my “hidden” stash. Thank you for keeping me honest and keeping it all so real. Did I tell you, that after 9 months of sobriety I was asked to share my story? I felt honored and it felt good to let go and let God speak through me. I love you and will be forever grateful for your courage for it was your courage and honesty that initially made me take a long hard look at myself. God bless.
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Heather June 5, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Thank you. I’ve got this big lump in my throat. You are the one that stayed sober for nine months, of course…but I thank you for encouraging me by letting me know that my words helped you. My story helped you.

I would have loved to have been there to hear you speak at nine months. Congratulations and peace and so much love to you.


Abra June 4, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Heather, you’re so brave. I hope one day I can be as brave as you! xo

Lee June 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Dude. I just love you sister. You are so strong and you writing kicks some serious ass.

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jen June 5, 2011 at 12:24 am

sometimes i come here to write a comment and i don’t feel like i know what to write and i clickity clack and then i tippity tap backspacing the words away because what i wrote sounds silly.
but i think what i really just want to say to you is … you. are. amazing. you are wonderfully wonderful in that you even are stopping to think about what happened. your children (see … i backspaced over boys … because girl!) are given this marvelous mama that puts time and effort and love into discovering their innermost emotion. suckers disappear in a heartbeat. that feeling of love … doesn’t.
also. i have oodles of organic suckers in my cupboard. drive here next time. i also have lawn chairs and sprinklers and very few things that are breakable.
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Heather June 5, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Oh lady. How come we don’t live closer? :)

I love what you’ve said here. So much. For realio. Thank you for being YOU. I really love who you are.


erin from swonderland June 5, 2011 at 8:50 pm

love you heather. you are brave and wonderful and also very human and you know it and i love that.

jenni June 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm

This post moved me beyond words. 25 years ago I was the kid in the store, except for me we never stopped going. Well I did at 18, she still does. While he may remember that you used to go there and why, he will always know the reasons you don’t now. And that is what matters. You chose them, life and yourself over those glass bottles. Amazing post by an incredible woman.

Lisa/MommyMo June 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Your post touches a chord with all of us, whether we drink or don’t, our parents drink/drank/or don’t. The comments from others brought the tears. However, you Heather, have captured my heart.
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liz June 6, 2011 at 7:12 pm

You have given me insight to what my husband goes through everyday. Thank you.
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Kate Coveny Hood June 6, 2011 at 10:47 pm

You’re very brave Heather. To write this story and to live with it every day. And those two little guys are something else.

Heidi June 7, 2011 at 6:11 am

The tears just rolled down my cheeks as I read this. I recall the anxiety and shame of the progressive trips to the wine store (except my kids called it the beer store). My son would ask “are we going here again?” It was a desperate act of bargaining and pacifying to get my fix. I sure don’t miss that! Thank you Heather you have helped me relight the fire within me! I originally saw your story on the news and I have been sober now for 6 months.

Becky (Princess Mikkimoto) June 7, 2011 at 8:53 am

Wow. As gut wrenching as this was, it was also totally beautiful. I love you, lady!
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Zakary June 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Love you hardcore.

Haley June 7, 2011 at 7:54 pm


You are so strong, gorgeous, and amazing that it takes my breath away.

So proud of you friend. You are just beautiful.

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molly June 8, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Oh so much to say. But not enough energy to write it. Coming here, reading this. It makes me happy for you. Sad for me. I am really really struggling right now. Wondering if I will make it. Everything in my being is waiting until June 22nd. The first day I can get in to see my psychiatrist so I can get a med check. Something has gone haywire in my brain again and it is firing neurons and messages that shouldn’t exist in anyone’s brain. But here I sit. Reading blogs. Crying. Wondering, will I make it to the 22nd. And how many times am I going to have to go through this pain.
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Elaine June 9, 2011 at 10:23 am

You know, it’s funny. I used to go to the liquor store with my mom and the man behind the counter always gave me a “dum dum” when we left. You brought back those memories. But, my mother is not, nor as she ever been, an addict so it as a different experience. She was just there for wine or beer for a family get together usually. I do however have an alcoholic older brother and I wonder sometimes how much of the stuff we brought home, he drank.

This is an amazing post Heather. Your heart-gut exposed. I love how you try to see it from your son’s perspective.
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tracey June 9, 2011 at 10:51 am

This was so heartfelt and real. I don’t understand the disease, but I understand the pain that our choices inflict upon our kids. I love that you write so openly about alcoholism. It is surely helping many people- yourself and your children included.
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anonymous December 29, 2011 at 8:12 am

This really resonted with me. I remember when I began going to the “wine store” on my lunch break so my daughter didn’t think we stopped there everyday after school. I also remember putting my wine in her schoolbag so my neighbors didn’t see me carrying that black bag in everyday. I even used to tell my daughter we were stopping to get wine for her father so she didn’t think it was for me. I have so much shame about these things. Working on them everyday…thank you for your blog. It really helps and gives me strength.

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