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. I really believed when I wrote my story, that this was a story about my brother who struggled with alcoholism and mental illness. A story to help other families struggling on a similar path.
I know now it is about so much more…. That it isn’t his story after all, but mine.
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.
I came out of this journey, not unscathed, but alive and at peace. I couldn’t save my brother. I know now you can’t save someone else, no matter how much you want to. Even when others in the family make you believe that you should. It is a hard, painful, complicated journey to come to terms with the truth that your family, the ones you love most in this whole world, are unhealthy and dysfunctional and breaking your spirit. That sometimes we must, for our own well being, love them but from afar.
If I could go back, would I be there to help my brother again during his journey? Yes. But I would be beside him, not doing the work for him. Knowledge is a gift. There is so much more that I know now, that I didn’t know then, about enabling, toxic relationships, family secrets and that addiction can begin in childhood. That early childhood trauma and/or sexual abuse can cause anxiety, depression, alcohol, drug addiction, more severe mental health issues and even suicidal ideation later in life. Had I known any of this I would have found my voice years ago. Things may have ended up different for me. Things may have ended up different for my brother.
Much love to all of you on your unique life’s journey. You are not alone. And for those that have lost someone to drugs, alcohol, mental illness or suicide do not hold anger and blame. It doesn’t mean we don’t wish we would have done things differently, but regret and guilt are not the same. One will will cripple you, the other will set you FREE.
I am always so grateful for reviews, and although in this instance I didn’t win an award it did touch my heart. That we all find the courage to accept the truth of our lives, learn from our mistakes and try to see life from all sides.