I am what is known as an ACOA (Adult Child of Alcoholic). I say that with love and respect; after all, that has played a huge role in who I am. At first glance my book is about addiction and complicated family relationships.
How many times have you lost yourself in some chronic family crisis, giving and giving until there is no more left to give-and yet you give more? Out of duty. Out of love. Out of knowing that everyone is looking to you?
As women, we have often learned from childhood that we are the ones that must be the peacemakers, the problem-solvers, the fixers-the ones to make concessions. The ones whose needs come last. And we sometimes do this with dire consequences, losing ourselves, sometimes our partners and our children-and even our souls.
My story begins as a child where I became my sweet little brother’s protector as we witnessed alcohol-fueled fights behind closed doors. I am the grand-daughter, step-daughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, great-niece, aunt and cousin to alcoholics. But nothing impacted me more than when my closest friend, my magnificent brother became addicted to alcohol.
I started my own life with a loving husband, and two children, eventually beginning a business and I remained by my brother’s side and his safe harbor. But as his drinking became apparent, grew worse and more self-destructive, I was drawn into a maelstrom of pain, co-dependence, blame, shame, and battle of wills with other immediate family members. We were lost. Well at least I was.
I came out of this journey, not unscathed, but alive and at peace.
Recovery should be celebrated; 23 million in the USA and almost 5 million in Canada. But what about the ones that lost their brave battle with alcohol and drug addiction? Let us not think of these as lessons of failure but rather inspiration to change. Giving others knowledge, strength, and yes, hope.
After all, we will never find a cure for cancer if we only concentrate on what works, and do not also hear about and learn from what didn’t.
The truth. I embrace it, all uncomfortable parts of it.
Wishing you all love, happiness and courage on your unique journey. You are not alone.
-hugs from me to all of you, Jodee
Jodee Prouse is a speaker and author of the powerful memoir The Sun is Gone: A Sister Lost in Secrets, Shame, and Addiction and How I Broke Free. She is an outspoken advocate to eliminate the shame and stigma surrounding Addiction and Mental illness as well as empowering women to survive life’s challenge’s and family crisis.
Jodee has two adult sons and has been married to her husband Jim for 27 years. They share their time between Sylvan Lake, Alberta and their cottage in Oroville, Washington.