Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

Loving My Kid, Forgiving Myself.

So many things I want to write about. Would love to file something about Christopher Hitchens. Have a stack of books, three or four of which I wish I could review today, one of which (the excellent ADDICTION AND ART) should have been reviewed last week. But these kinds of posts require more of my attention because I need to be responsible to the others involved in them… and this week my son is out of camp. I promised him some “bored” weeks, and today was a bored-day, and I didn’t get that attention to devote to this work.

Instead we helped a mentor of mine, 71-year-old Quaker friend who last night had to put her 15-year-old dog to sleep. Took her out for coffee and a walk at the botanical garden.

Think about it: she got that dog when she was 55.

“Did you see how happy you made Aunt V?” I asked my almost-13-year-old in the car on the way home.

“Yeah,” he said. “And you looked pretty happy. And I guess I was happy too, so that made three of us.”

My kid flying down a fell in Cumbria, England, earlier this month.

The longer I stay sober, the more moments I get to have like the one pictured above. Or maybe I just get to be present for them. The other day I decided I’d just settle in for my 12-minute meditation in the couch in the living room; my husband and son were chatting about the car race scheduled for the next afternoon, and my son turned to ask me a question; then he said, “Oh, Mama’s meditating—that’s so awesome.”

He calls me “Mama” when he feels affectionate. Also “Motherington.” Also “Madréas”—his own personal derivative of the Spanish madre.


Another fine moment: standing in the kitchen telling him I’d become an addict, and that I’d detoxed two years before and changed my life. Inwardly I flinched, expecting him to sneer with venomous questions or accusations, but he nodded and clapped, hollering, “Yo, Mama!

“Dude,” I said, crying.

“But Mom,” he said, “don’t you write about this stuff on a blog called something like Guinevere?”


My sponsor said later: “Kids know everything.”

“I dunno, I think I saw it open on the desktop? or something…” he said. My account on the desktop is password-protected. So he couldn’t have seen it there. Someone had found it and told him: Your mom is a junkie.

“Honey,” I said. “Wouldn’t you be embarrassed if I wrote about this stuff?” Because I have a few essays. Which I’ve been reluctant to send to outlets, or even to work on, because I don’t want to embarrass my family. Especially my son. I don’t want him to be the kid at school with the Addict Mom. His other friends are sons of the Surgeon Mom, the Professor Mom, the Epidemiologist Mom, the City-Planner Mom, the Rock Star Mom (for real).

I am the Writer and Painter Mom. I am also the Addict Mom.

In answer to my question, my son replied, with an incredulous expression, “Why?”

It seems my son can see more deeply into the situation than I can. And more deeply into both of us.

The woman who’s working with me on steps 10 and 11 told me today:

You hold yourself responsible for too much. You think that somehow you caused your addiction and you could have done something different? You need to take a long hard look at that. This is something that is beyond your control.

I suffer a great deal from wanting to turn the clock back—from the conviction that time-reversal is the ONLY way I can make anything right. Impossible. But this is what addiction does: its distortion of reality puts us in impossible binds. Leads us to suffering. Tempts us, eventually, to use.

She said:

In getting sober, you are a completely different mother for your child. And you’re influencing his life for the better every day.

(but what about all the time he missed out on while i was using?)

She said:

ALL you can do is live the best that you can and be of service.


  1. Your son sounds awesome. The photo of the countryside is beautiful. I am glad that you are honest and forthright. Good things to show your boy.

  2. Hmmm… how about Brave, Courageous Recovering addict mom? You still have so much time left to live your amends to your son. You’re a role model for him as someone who discovers she has a problem and takes a stand to solve it. And now you share what you know with others, many of whom will look to you for answers or consolation or friendship, both here in cyberspace and in your “real” life.

    Many blessings await us, G. As long as we stay clean and sober and on the path.

  3. water under the bridge… that is, the time we lost while actively in our alcoholism/addiction… gone, beyond retrieval…

    it’s difficult sometimes, with the feelings of guilt over “stealing” time from family and loved ones. But, if we continue to beat ourselves up we run the risk of losing more good time with loved ones…

    acceptance really is important here… God forgave you, surely you can too

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