National Children of Alcoholics Week: Feb 9 – 14th

COSA-girlI 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?
1.
2.
3.

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!

Happy National Children of Alcoholics Week -Feb 10-16, 2013

This is what I wrote last year during COA Week — it’s better than what I wrote this year. ha ha

Catholic Alcoholic

coaweekposterthumb_large I’ve learned it’s important to share my story. Our stories have the potential to heal us and help others. For someone like me, sharing pieces of my story has always been and still is a slow process.

It’s somewhat less horrifying for me to talk about my history with alcoholism in meetings, in sharing with my family and with very close friends. One day I’ll hopefully be able to share details more easily because I wholeheartedly believe sharing our stories is the best way to help the ones still out there struggling. I’d like to do my little part to chip away at the stigma and shame associated with alcoholism, so more of us would seek help sooner.

I hold the most shame in admitting that I was an active alcoholic mother on and off for almost three years.  I’m no longer that person.  But still, to admit that I ever…

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3rd of Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary: Chastity

10 evangelica virtues of maryHere is the third article in a series I’ve been writing for Catholic Mom about the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.  This piece is on “chastity.”

According to Pope Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character.

The ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actual qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization: chastity, prudence, humility, faith, devotion, obedience, poverty, patience, mercy and sorrow.

In this year of faith, efforts to increase in virtue are a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize with virtue in a variety of vocations, as a mother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a wife. Modeling our behavior on the Blessed Virgin is an excellent way to bring others to Christ.  Who more than Mary has brought more of us to her son?

The first Evangelical Virtue of Mary is Chastity.

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How shall this be done, since I do not know man?” Luke 1:34

The word “chastity” is difficult to pronounce in the modern world, hardly evident except within religious circles.  Our children are exposed to all sorts of immodest dress and behaviors through media and through their companions. How can we teach our children the importance of being chaste? Why is this important?

Instilling the virtue of chastity in our children must start first with taking a look at it in ourselves.

Are we chaste? Do we follow the Church teachings on artificial birth control? Are we careful with the way we dress? Do we “like” immodest posts on Facebook? Do we “share” celebrity relationship gossip through our social media channels? Did we read Shades of Grey and recommend it to others?

You can read the rest of the article over at CatholicMom.com here.  Enjoy!

Evangelical Virtues of Mary: Prudence

Virtue

Virtue (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

This is my article that ran on CatholicMom.com this week. I like to post them here, too. To view it over there, click on this link and voila!  Happy Holy Saturday!

According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character.

The ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actual qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization: chastity, prudence, humility, faith, devotion, obedience, poverty, patience, mercy and sorrow.

In this year of faith, efforts to increase in virtue are a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize with virtue in a variety of vocations, as a mother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a wife. Modeling our behavior on the Blessed Virgin is an excellent way to bring others to Christ.  Who more than Mary has brought more of us to her son?

The second Evangelical Virtue of Mary is Prudence.                                           

But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19

And he descended with them and went to Nazareth. And he was subordinate to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. Luke 2:51

Mary “ponders” these things in her heart. She discerns. She doesn’t react, debate or take any action right away. She simply ponders things first.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us (1806), “Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it.”

The prudent woman looks where she is going. Prudence is “right reason in action,” writes St. Thomas Aquinas. The prudent woman determines and directs her conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles without error and overcome doubts about good and evil in our everyday circumstances.

Prudence is also one of the four cardinal virtues, which means it can be practiced by anyone. The cardinal virtues are not, in themselves, the gifts of God through grace but the outgrowth of habit.

Prudence, as explained by Fr. John A. Hardon in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, is “Correct knowledge about things to be done or, more broadly, the knowledge of things that ought to be done and of thing that ought to be avoided.”

So how do we know when we’re exercising prudence and when we’re simply giving in to our own desires?

How do we know if we are acting prudently or not?  As an act of virtue, prudence involves three stages of mental operation: to take counsel carefully with oneself and from others; to judge correctly on the basis of the evidence at hand; and to direct my actions accordingly.

When faced with a dilemma, we first pray, ask God to direct our thinking.  Next we ask for advice from someone of good character, someone we can trust, of good moral character. We look at all the evidence at hand, the facts in front of us. We never rush. We ask God for his will for us. Then, finally we make a decision and act upon it.

And we must always keep in mind that the definition of prudence requires us to judge correctly. If our judgment is proved after the fact to have been incorrect, then we did not make a “prudential judgment” but an imprudent one, for which we may need to make amends.

One way to integrate these virtues into your life is by praying the Chaplet to the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.