3.18.2014

Very Important Post


This is a story of strength and hope.  If you've been reading this blog for a while then you know my Mom died over 10 years ago.  Hopefully, you also know I adored her.  She was my best friend and I miss her everyday.


It is hard for me to write this next part because I wouldn't want her or anyone anywhere to ever feel shame or embarrassment of any kind, not for one split second.  My Mom had a drinking problem and my life has been greatly affected by the family disease of alcoholism.  I'd like to talk openly about this to hopefully bring about good feelings and to share the thing that changed my life and possibly saved it.


I don't know when my Mom's drinking problem began, she was very good at hiding it.  I know the worst began when I was in high school.  My parents divorced when I was in elementary and they had joint custody.  My sister and I would live with my Dad one week, then my Mom the next week and so on until we went to college and this worked great for us.  However, when my Mom's problem became obvious we lived with our Dad.  Strangely, (I think) her drinking problem was obvious to outsiders before it was to us, it was our normal.  When my Mom was acting strange or even crazy or having a blow-up, I kind of just wished it away and hoped for a better tomorrow.  Then when tomorrow came I even questioned if things were real or made up in my head.  The problem was only obvious to me when I found empirical evidence.  For example, empty half-gallon containers of vodka hidden under the guest bedroom bed, empty beer cans hidden behind the TV and while I was riding bikes with my friends in the neighborhood, we saw my Mom driving around, windows down, listening to music and... passionately drinking.  That's when we went to live full time with our Dad and my Mom went to rehab.  I'm sharing these details for a teen like me, so he or she may know exactly what a problem looks like and so they don't have to feel all alone.


After my Mom went to rehab twice and was sober we wanted to live with her part-time again.  When she was healthy she was a great mom and we wanted to be with her.  So my Dad made a deal with us.  If we were going to live with her part of the time then we had to attend an Alateen meeting once a week.  Alateen is an anonymous group for teenagers whose lives have been affected by someone else's drinking.  We agreed to go because it was the way to our Mom.  I had no idea Alateen was about to change my life and save my relationship with my Mom.  Once we found the right group for us, we went once a week for about 2 years.  First I learned simple things like, "don't argue with someone who is drunk" - whoops!  and "don't hide or throw out liquor, more is always available" -  double whoops!  Then I learned the good stuff.  During those 2 years I figured out I wasn't alone in my pain and fear, I figured out how to survive living in the same house as the disease (because it's not completely gone even if the drinking is) and somehow I figured out how to accept my Mom as she was and detach from her problem without anger.  All of that is a miracle to me.  I was happy, strong and hopeful and loved that time of my life and I owe it to Alateen, tell it to your neighbor!!!

J. Roe Photography
I have no idea how my Mom got as bad as she did, I think it was too painful for her to talk about or bring up in her seven years of recovery.  I know that she was kind, loving, fun, creative, talented and did her best.  My Aunt has said that my mom becoming an alcoholic was like Mother Teresa becoming an alcoholic.  Addiction is scary.  And after revisiting things and looking through pictures for this blog post, seeing her look at her children and hold us the same way I look at and hold mine, I can't help but think it was out of her hands.  I'm sure she was overwhelmed and depressed, but I don't even know if she tried to get help or if she was just lost.  To me, she was beautiful inside and out.



This past summer I finally realized the emotional impact of alcoholism from my childhood was at work in me in new ways with my new roles.  Before, I was the kid.  Now I am a wife and a parent with new fears, worries and reactions.  So I looked into Al-anon meeting times, found some during camp/school hours and decided to go.  I thought this was a low point, admitting I needed help like this again.  But then 10 minutes into the meeting, I realized it was VICTORY!  I've been going weekly and I feel a huge difference!   I know this is a family disease so I carry behaviors from my Mom that I don't want to pass to my kids, so this is VICTORY for my whole family!!!

J. Roe Photography
I am so thankful to my Dad for having us first go to Alateen and for what it did for me as a teenager.  And now I am thankful for Al-Anon continuing to help me everyday.  My hope for this Very Important Post is that someone Google-ing Does my Mom or Dad have a drinking problem? or Is it normal...? finds this, reads it, realizes they're not alone and then finds a meeting to go to today.  Victory!  If you have a friend in these shoes, please pass this post to them.

Here is a link to the Houston Al-Anon Alateen Family Groups and a link to the national Al-Anon Alateen Family Groups websites where you can find a meeting and more information.

This is said at the end of every Al-Anon meeting, I always hear it loud and clear and it's worth repeating:  "Whatever your problems there are those among us who have had them, too.  If you try to keep an open mind you will find help.  You will come to realize that there is no situation too difficult to be bettered and no unhappiness too great to be lessened."

56 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing- I am sure that (sadly) most people's families have been affected by alcoholism, so this will come as very helpful.

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    1. Thank you Leslie! I'm sure the statistics are very high and help helps!

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  2. What a beautiful offering. May your victories continue and be too numerous to count.

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    1. Amen, sister April, tell it to your neighbor! Thank you!

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  3. Thank you for your post. So brave of you. Alcoholism runs in my family and I appreciate you bringing it to light. Its great you are working on yourself by going to meetings.

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    1. Thank you, Mary! Doing lots of work and I'll keep the lights on! Thanks for the encouragement!

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  4. Both of my parents are alcoholics. Sometimes people get the idea that alcoholics are drunks on the street who can't hold down a job. Not true. My parents were/are functioning alcoholics. My mom was a teacher. Got up every morning, went to work on time, did her job, went home and was passed out drunk by 9 pm. I'm an adult now and love my parents. I also have detached their illness from who they are. I can't change them and it's not my responsibility to. Thank you for sharing your story!

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    1. You are amazing! Thank you for sharing YOUR story! This helps me!

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  5. The book Keeping Secrets by Suzanne Somers is a great book for adult children of alcoholics. ACA begin to examine their childhoods approximately when they reach age 30.

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    1. Thank you so much for this comment. My sister and I have talked about this about 5 times since you wrote this, it is a revelation! Will look into the book.

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  6. Thank you so much for this lovely post. I cried as I read it. You are very inspirational.

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    1. Thank you, Karen! I didn't mean to make you cry but I hope it was a good one and felt good to get it out. :) I hope you're doing great and maybe I'll run into you out and about sometime soon!

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  7. Such an amazing post - I'm inspired by your vulnerability and strength. Blessings to you...Victory, Victory, Victory!!!!

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  8. OH, SNAM.... You continually amaze me. You're so beautiful inside and out. You ability to find the sunshine during the storm is outstanding. Thank you for sharing your wonderful blog. I love reading what both you and Carl post. <3

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    1. Thank you so much SNAM for such a sweet and thoughtful comment!

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  9. OH, SNAM.... You continually amaze me. You're so beautiful inside and out. You ability to find the sunshine during the storm is outstanding. Thank you for sharing your wonderful blog. I love reading what both you and Carl post. <3

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  10. What a beautiful testimony to your mom. I know I often feel like I fall short of what my kids might need or want in a mom. I'm always so glad to be reassured that I am loved and needed anyway.

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    1. Thank you, mamacita! Have you seen the video, "A New Perspective For Moms"? It was on the huffington post. Find it if you haven't seen it, it's great!

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  11. This is such a beautiful message and I feel compelled to post a comment. I have never commented on a blog or written a review for a product on the internet. Yet, my fingers are typing to you right now ;-) I'm not really sure what I want to say but thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope! I know you have helped me tonight ;-)
    I am the mom of three, healthy, young children, have a loving husband, live in a beautiful home and lead a fulfilled life. I owe this all to my soberiety and working the steps of AA. Alcoholism is a progressive disease. I also hid alcohol. I cannot explain how I became so sick. When my drinking got out of control it was like an outer body experience. I knew it was wrong but couldn't help it. I thought, woman like me aren't alcoholics. I have a college degree, my kids go to the best schools, I'm a good person....Yet, there I was drinking in my closet?! It was all so insane. When I walked into my first meeting, I knew I was in the right place just like you with Al Anon. I'm so proud of your mom and her 7 years of recovery. I hope she lead a life beyond her wildest dreams. Your wedding picture was touching. It's a scary, family disease but we can find peace and recover. One day at a time. God Bless you and your family. I'm so glad you carried the message!

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    1. Thank you so much for being compelled to type! You have just helped me tremendously, I feel like I was just able to talk to my mom, hearing this from you. What insight you have offered! I would hug you if I could! Way to go with your recovery, your strength shines through this comment! Thank you for carrying the message of your story. We CAN find peace and recover, tell it to your neighbor!

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  12. What beautiful, fantastic words Erica! Proud to know you, my friend! xoxo

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    1. I'm not sure who wrote this but thank you very much!

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  13. Thank you for sharing this post. I am sure your beautiful and wonderful mother is proud of you and your bravery.

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    1. Thank you very much, Lynn! I was worried what she'd think if she were here.

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  14. You are brave and strong and honorable for sharing this. Alateen and Al-Anon are incredible resources and I although I don't even know you, I am so proud of you! Thank you for being a voice for so many of us out there. xoxo

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    1. Incredible resources! And although I don't even know you either, I can tell you are kind! Thank you!

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  15. Thank you so much for a beautiful post. Alcoholism is hard on everyone and it has effected my family throughout many generations. Most recently with a beloved Uncle who like your Mom was almost like a Mother Teresa but it took hold and he lost his battle 9 yrs ago when he choose to end his own life. Which is a decision that I will never understand but I miss him dearly everyday. I think my Aunt and Cousins would very much appreciate your post and no matter how long its been Al-Anon is a group that can help us all.
    I know this is a difficult story to tell and I admire your courage and your ability to recognize that you want more or need help. I think that's the hardest part is asking for help. Thank you so much for sharing and I know you will help many with your honesty.

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    1. Thank you so much. I am so sorry about your Uncle, I can't imagine the pain. You're right, Alanon helps even if the person with a problem is gone. Thank you for sharing your story too! I hope people feel like asking for help is a victory after reading this post.

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  16. This is my 3rd day of not drinking my usual bottle of wine when I put my 3 little boys down. Reading this is like God speaking to me. I come from a family of alcolics and know that by the time my kids are in high school or even before your moms story could become mine. Being a mother of young children the little reward of one glass of wine at night when all were put to bed became 2 then 3 and now it's just out of control. Thanks for sharing this...I'm glad you posted!

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    1. You are amazing! I am proud of you for being aware and doing something about it. Way to go!!! Private message me on Facebook if you ever want to talk or my email is tellittoyourneighbor@gmail.com . :)

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  17. Beautiful post. My sister is a herion addict, and my mom has found great comfort in the Nar-Anon groups. She keeps asking me to go with her.... You may have convinced me.

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    1. Go with her!!! It works! Thank you, Lindsey B.!

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  18. Last night I went to my first Al-Anon meeting. I grew up with my mom as an alcoholic and drug addict. She still struggles with drug addiction, and now one of my sisters does too. I had thought about going for a long time, but never went. I came home from the meeting last night a little angry that I was the one that needed to do this because of their choices that still affect my life after so many years. I hated sitting there, and having all the emotions and pain brought to the surface. I have become a master at keeping my emotions bottled up. However, it was comforting to be in a place where others can relate. Anyway, long story short, I didn't think I'd want to go to any more meetings until I read your post (I read your sister's blog, which brought me to your post). God knew what I needed to hear, and used your post just an hour after I arrived home from the meeting to speak to me. Because of this, I am going to give the meeting another try and keep trying to work through this. This is so true for me: "I finally realized the emotional impact of alcoholism from my childhood was at work in me in new ways with my new roles." Thank you for being open and sharing this. Pretty awesome how a post from a complete stranger can impact someone's life. Thank you.

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    1. My husband is finally seeking help for alcoholism and I will go to my first Al-Anon meeting tomorrow. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts. I too am angry that I had to shoulder so much during the addiction and now have to change my routine and put forth extra effort yet again because of his choices. I know that I should be willing to do whatever it takes to support him through recovery but I can't help feeling a bit selfish. Perhaps I'll find others at the meeting tomorrow who have been here and can help me sort through it. This post has given me some hope in that regard. The right message at the right time for sure ... Best of luck!

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    2. Thanks for sharing. I hope your first meeting goes well, and I'm so glad to hear that your husband is seeking help. Wishing you all the best.

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    3. In response to the Anonymous comment at 9:43, Way to go you for going to a meeting on your own!!! First, they say every Al-anon group has a different personality so you may need to try up to six to find the right fit. Also they say "keep coming back, it works if you work it" for a reason, it's true. The beginning is hard, accepting it all. I think it's pretty awesome too that you read this post an hour after you got home and were feeling discouraged. Private message me on Facebook or email me at tellittoyourneighbor@gmail.com if you want to talk more. :) Thank you for the comment and I'm proud of you for taking the first step, for yourself!

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    4. In response to the Anonymous comment at 11:42, I feel you! I wish I could talk to you to see how it went. I hope you found people speaking the words of your same life comforting. Victory to you for going! Private message me on Facebook or email me at tellittoyourneighbor@gmail.com if you have questions about meetings or need to talk. :)

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  19. Beautiful brave and well written.
    - Linda, ny

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    1. Linda, I love your comment, thank you for taking a second to write it. Thank you!

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  20. This is a well written and nice story. There is always people who are suffering and it is stories like this that give them hope. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. True! We don't live in transparent houses. There is always HOPE! Thank you for your comment, Yolonda!

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  21. I love you. You are so brave.

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  22. Such a well written, and heart-felt post. My MIL lived in a family with alcoholism and it ultimately killed her dad. Her mom also had a drinking problem. My MIL still to this day attends Al-Anon meetings because of what she grew up with. And I remember her being so worried about my husband and his brother when they were in college and making sure they did not drink too much. I don't think it ever leaves you, it becomes a part of you and you learn to find ways to heal from the hurt. Al-Anon is an amazing organization, especially for those who have been affected by love ones who have had drinking problems.

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    1. That is so true about it never leaving you, I know that will be me when my kids go to college. That's why I am going to continue to go to Al-anon for tools, prep and boundaries! Thank you for your comment and for sharing about your family.

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  23. Than you for sharing and for being so very honest. My father and step father were both alcoholics. My father also died almost exactly 10 years ago and my step father 3 years ago. Luckily, my step father was able to see me get married and have two little boys, which changed our relationship in many ways. However, I was very angry with my father when he passed and that haunts me every day. Sadly, he still was not ready to be a father when he passed, but was more focused on destructive behaviors. I often wonder if things would have changed if he could have seen me get married and have kids, but unfortunately I will never know. I wouldn't wish this upon anyone, however he helped me realize what I wanted and needed in a family. I now have a wonderful husband that has seen me through all of the hard times and two boys that I will protect with my life. I have learned to love again like I never thought I could, but the best part is that I get to experience a father's love through my husband. I honestly never thought I would get to see or feel this love. I am blessed!

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  24. Thank you for this. I too have an alcoholic in the family and it often feels like I am alone. You are inspirational.

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  25. My mother is also an alcoholic. I'm curious, what did your mother die of? You mentioned she had been sober for 7 years

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  26. This is a beautiful post - thank you for your honesty and the kind way you shared about your mom. I am convinced that telling the TRUTH is a really important way to help each other. I have a relative who is struggling with alcohol right now and I really feel helpless.

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  27. Oh my goodness....what a beautiful post. I wasn't expecting this. Someone just told me about your sister's fashion blog yesterday, so I was looking at it and linked to yours. My mother died 13 years ago (I was 29 when she died). She actually got into drugs in her later life, but her parents were alcoholics and she later married an alcoholic and then a drug addict, etc. I never related to these addictions...just always felt affected by hers. Your post deeply moved me. Thank you...

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  28. Thank you so much for writing this!

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