Addiction and Alcoholism is a family disease. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. says this about addiction and the family: “Alcoholism and drug addiction affects the whole family – young, teenage, or grown-up children; wives or husbands; brothers or sisters; parents or other relatives and friends. One family member addicted to alcohol and drugs means the whole family suffers. Addiction is a family disease that stresses the family to the breaking point, impacts the stability of the home, the family’s unity, mental health, physical health, finances, and overall family dynamics.”
Denial is a strange bedfellow. It comes in with the best intentions, to help you get through this little rough patch. It says, “It’s going to be ok. It’s just a phase. She’s going to grow out of. Get her a good therapist, sign her up for an after school activity, and believe me, in a couple months, everything will be just fine.” But denial is unscrupulous, deceitful, and dishonest. It comes up with better, more convincing excuses and lies as time goes on and things get worse. It’s hormones, her friends are bad influence, she just needs a math tutor to help her get through algebra.
I believed every lie, every excuse, every justification. But I had lots of practice. Denial has been my sibling since before I took my first drink at 15. When you grow up in dysfunction, in my case a drug addicted, womanizing, gambler, liar, cheat and thief for a father, an abusive alcoholic stepfather, and mother who did every thing she could to survive and hold it all together, you get cozy with denial because it becomes an intimate part of the family. Alcoholism and addiction aided me in my survival of growing up in my family. But it turned on me and began to slowly, deliberately destroy my life. And then I got sober.
Then this beautiful little girl came along, who I loved and adored and parented the best way I knew how. I made a lot of mistakes and denial didn’t make it any easier. I have been besieged with regret, remorse and self-recrimination these last few months over those mistakes. Then I got grateful. Grateful that by God’s grace the veil of denial that blinded me to my daughter’s illness gave way to seeing clearly. Throughout the Gospels Jesus often says to those who want healing, “What do you want me to do for you?” Throughout these past 5 years I have prayed, mostly foxhole prayers, “Please God, what do I do with this child?” And perhaps somewhere along the line I made the plea, “God, help me see more clearly.”
And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. Mk. 10:52