I received the NCCA (National Catholic Council on Addictions) newsletter and was reminded that this is National Children of Alcoholics Week!  It’s celebrated each year on Valentine’s Day and throughout the month.  The organization that spearheads this effort is the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (nacoa.org). Estimates show that one in four children in the United States (about 27.8 million) are affected by or exposed to a family alcohol problem.

Children living with addiction in their family need the support of caring adults.  They need to know it’s not their fault that a parent is alcoholic or drug addicted. They need to hear the message, “It’s a disease; it is not your fault, and there are safe people who can help.” All too often it’s the children who are hurt the most when the parents are addicted.

ugh—this always gets to me, talking about the children, MY children. My boys are now in middle school and have suffered through my periods of sobriety and subsequent relapses.  It breaks my heart to think about how I have hurt my own children who I love more than life itself. I was told I was selfish. I was told I was hurting them. I was told if drink again I was a neglectful mom. Yet, drink again I did! Why? How?  It’s crazy. It’s insane.  But I swear it is not because I didn’t love my boys. I promise you this.  I can’t even go so far as to say it’s because I was “selfish.”  Was I?

I did at one time choose alcohol despite knowing logically how my drinking was negatively affecting my family.  But knowing something “logically” I have found for me doesn’t keep me sober.  Addiction is not a logical disease.  Logically, I’ve known I was an alcoholic for many, many years.  But something in my brain would tell me it wasn’t that bad, that I would “quit tomorrow,” that I’m right here for my boys, etc.  Oh well, I’ll never understand it.

An alcoholic mother —- who loves her children more than life itself — is not helped by being told she is neglectful and a bad mother.  She already believes that.  Shame never got me sober. Shame actually kept me drunk.  Here is an article in TIME by Maia Szalavitz about how shaming does not work with alcoholics, how it actually leads to relapse. 

Here is another article about shame and the alcoholic.  And another.  And another.

So, even though shaming an alcoholic parent is not going to get her sober, it is of course still critical that she DOES GET SOBER. Here is an article that talks about how children who grow up with addicted parents suffer “pain and anger.” 

This is true, guys. Once when I was drinking and helping my son with his homework — I was a little too boisterous and happy.  I wasn’t falling down drunk or anything but I had a good buzz on.  Dinner was on the stove and Son 1 needed homework help.  I noticed my son got really quiet — withdrawn – while I continued to tell him how to do his work.  I realized he was bothered that I was drinking and didn’t like my personality change.  I’m intuitive like this when it comes to my children, even when I am drinking.

So, I left him alone and went back to cooking dinner. I wrote him a note, though and passed it to him. My note said:

How does my drinking make you feel?

And he filled it in right away:

1. mad
2. sad
3. I don’t believe you that you will ever stop because you never do.

And that was that.  I stopped.  I even poured out the drink I had in my hand.  And haven’t had a drink since, by the grace of God.

But do you see in his answers how true it is that children of alcoholics suffer “pain and anger?”  mad (anger), sad (pain).  😦

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.  This is Children of Alcoholics Week!  Back to this.  What can we do to honor this week?  I can write about it, like I am.  Encourage others to contemplate the effects addiction has on children in the family.  Help others who are addicted parents get the help they need.  Reach out to children of addicted parents and offer them love and support, a friendly face to talk to.

I can’t write about this anymore 😦   —  the shame is still too great.  Here is what I wrote last year during Children of Alcoholics Week.  And I will reblog the whole article, too, because it’s better than this one ha!