Q: Ive made my moms life a living hell! In the last two years ive been experimenting with drugs and im finnaly clean. i can now see life how it really is and i dont like it. i have basicly made my moms life hell. i know i wont hert her (meantaly not physicly) any more because im clean but i can’t seem to live with myself knowing how she feels. i know that in the future she will mellow out but i dont know if i can because i feel horrable about what i did and how she feels. so i guess what im asking is how do i live with myself? am i suppost to try to forget about my past and just move on or what? thank you for your time and i hope you can help me!

A: First you need to put things in perspective. With a probable life span of 80 years, the last two is 2 ½ % of your life. 97 ½% of your life is going to be drug free! You’ve got lots of time to make amends and make a life that matters.

What you are feeling is remorse, which only means that you are at the core a decent, caring guy who got in over his head and now has to deal with having hurt people you love. I gather that your mom is giving you a hard time and that you are feeling discouraged about ever regaining the kind of easy relationship you once had.

Walking in each other’s shoes would help both of you. Your mom needs to understand how much strength and courage it took you to get clean and to break with the group of “friends” you were hanging with. You need to understand that she’s been terrified that she would lose you. She needs to understand that you really are very, very sorry for what you put her through. You need to understand that it’s not unreasonable for her to be scared to trust that it is over. I hope at some point the two of you can talk this through.

What’s important now is not what you did but what you are going to do next. Figure out what you want from your life and start going for it. As you add more and more successful days of being clean and moving forward, you will gradually earn back your own self-respect and your mother’s trust. Then you will be able to forgive yourself for doing something you regret and she’ll be able to relax. Best of all, you will be getting on with your life and rebuilding your relationship with your family.