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I’ve been happily married for almost 10 years but this isn’t my first marriage. My first marriage was with someone I met in my early 20’s and who I divorced at 30. I used to lament that this person “took my 20’s from me,” which is a problematic statement for several reasons but let’s move on.
I used to think of that experience like a relationship gap — a period of time I’d spent on someone that I could have spent somewhere or with someone else. It reminds me of the way mothers sometimes feel about a “mommy gap,” a gap on a woman’s resume where her career stalled (I use this word liberally here) while she was home with kids. While yes, raising our kids is important work, companies and recruiters rarely see it that way (another problematic issue and something I address in my coming book).
I bring this all up because I believe many of us also fall into the narrative of an “alcohol gap,” the drinking period of our life that slowed everything else down: priorities, emotional growth, and even family and relationships. It’s a valid concern. So much energy goes into addiction or addictive thinking. It’s hard not to wonder what we could have done with that energy instead.
Shame and guilt are familiar bedpartners in addiction and recovery. They love nothing more than to play off this narrative, or to make us think we’ve already wasted so much time that a little more won’t matter. Believe me, I know. But feeding this thought process is not only unproductive, it’s dead wrong, in the same way an HR professional may look at a “mommy gap” and think of it as a gap at all. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Ignorant. Twisted. Harmful.
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