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What’s the best (or rather, worst) backhanded compliment you’ve ever received? If you can’t think of any — when’s the last time someone paid you a compliment you didn’t actually deserve?

My kids are very considerate and often tell me what a great mom I was when they were growing up, and still am. I love hearing that; I’m glad they have good memories from their childhood as well as faith and values that they use in their lives today. I’m very proud of each of them — and each is different.

But I can’t fully accept their tributes because of the fact that I was an active alcoholic by the age of forty, and didn’t get clean until was 46. Some of the things I did, said, and thought, will scar my heart forever. Like many women/mothers, I hid my alcoholism for a while, and continued functioning, though I came to realize that I couldn’t stop drinking. I tried hard to control it, but that’s just not possible. Several rehabs and 24-hour chips later, I finally got it, by the grace of God. It has made me a better person today, but still causes me guilt and shame. I put that to good use, though, by not drinking, and dedicating myself to a life of sobriety and the joy it brings.

The fact that I looked death in the face and said “No” is an achievement of which I am very proud, quietly so. But it does give me a different view of life and how much we can and can’t control. When you let a power greater than yourself do the navigating, life is simpler. When you live each moment and each day to the fullest, doing the next right thing, life is better.

I accept the compliments with gratefulness, because being a good mom (and a good wife) is what I always wanted to be, even though addiction got in the way.

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