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.
The bigger message however, is about finding your inner strength to sort through your own life’s challenges. On YOUR terms. To not be ashamed of your story, but live your truth; openly and honestly. It is never too late. I am 48 years old, and with the release of my memoir, April 1st, I have finally found my voice. Embracing and acknowledging past mistakes and celebrating achievements.
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. What I did manage to accomplish is a stronger marriage, raised two hardworking sons who I love very much and become a better version of myself, breaking free from my childhood patterns that were destroying me and the feeling of responsibility for everyone in my family which had been bestowed on me since I was a six year old girl.
And astonishing even to me, that while I was wide awake, living an unbelievable nightmare, I managed to build a successful Beauty Business, from nothing to sales of over 1.7 million dollars a year. What I had was a group of strong, loving, supportive women rallying around me while I was preoccupied, on a mission to save someone that I loved from addiction.
I choose to surround myself that make me better. That build me up, not tear me down. FR-AMILY as I call them.
I know what it is like to feel powerless to something that takes control over your life. It is not easy to break patterns of all we have ever known, even when our choices hurt us or hurt the ones that we love. I know that sometimes these behaviors are etched deep inside…But when we lose ourselves in someone else’s addiction or issue, we are no good to anyone; not ourselves and certainly not he one’s we love. In the end, we are not culpable for someone else’s path. Just our own.
The truth. I embrace it, all uncomfortable parts of it.
-hugs from me to all of you, Jodee
Jodee Prouse is a speaker, blogger 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.