I am the daughter, sister, niece, wife, cousin, etc. of alcoholics. When I was in high school, I didn’t realize there was a problem with alcohol. Everyone in the family drank or got high. I never dreamed of dating a boy who didn’t drink . . . they’d have to be boring or expect me to be something I couldn’t be, act a way I didn’t know how to act. I drank all through high school and smoked pot. We all did it; it couldn’t be that bad, could it?
I married soon after high school, to get out of the house. My young husband was a child of an alcoholic and well on his way to becoming just like his dad. We divorced shortly after a year. He’d become abusive. By the grace of God, I was able to get out before we had children!
Before I was twenty-one, I married again. I met this wonderful man and he was sweet and kind, but he drank too. Like I said, drinking was a part of my life so it was no big deal. As time went on, I quit drinking and drugging. We had children and I didn’t want them growing up doing the things we’d done. I quit, he didn’t. (His father and brother were also alcoholics.)
As time progressed, I became more and more like the women of the family: angry, controlling and unhappy. Still I didn’t know alcohol was affecting anyone, surely not me. Life progressively got worse. My husband was a “functional drunk”, went to work every day, only drank at home and never abused any of us. What could possibly be wrong with me? I became more and more depressed, wanted to kill myself, couldn’t deal with the kids . . . they were falling apart before my eyes too.
One day, I came home from work and my husband was wasted. He was drinking in front of his brother-in-law who was in recovery. I WAS ANGRY! How dare he drink in front of an alcoholic! I again dumped his beer, he again bought more. We “had it out”, actually, I said everything, and he just went to bed! This was our “bottom”.
My husband went to his first AA meeting to make me happy. To shut me up, actually! He came home with a number of a woman who wanted me to call her. I was upset. I didn’t have a problem, he did! I told her so. She let me vent, then she invited me to a meeting–An Al Anon meeting. There, I learned he wasn’t the only one with a problem, I was actually sicker than he!
Thanks be to God, our whole family started recovery at the same time. He is in AA, I am in Al-Anon, and the kids are in Al-Ateen. This is what saved our marriage. Had he started recovery and not me, I would have continued to be angry and depressed and not have known I had a problem also. Yes, alcoholism affects the whole family! It can be generational and it doesn’t only breed more alcoholics, it breeds dysfunction. Recovery for the entire family is essential, even if the alcoholic never stops drinking.
I thank God for that woman on the other end of the phone who listened to me rant and she calmly let me know I wasn’t alone! I now know that there is no shame in alcoholism and THERE IS NO SHAME IN RECOVERY! We need to speak out and let people know that anyone can be affected by this disease. At first, I was afraid that someone I knew may see me at a meeting, I am a nurse! What if a patient saw me there? As time went on, I would actually tell my patients about the programs that were available. It isn’t that hard to spot a person who needs help, especially when you are one of them!
God can deliver us from drugs and alcohol, but we need to recover from the damage it can do to ourselves and to others. (The alcoholic and the family).