Wife, Mother, Catholic, Alcoholic

fall in north georgiaI submitted this to another Catholic forum and wanted to post it here too. Click here to read this article on Catholic Mom.

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I’m a Catholic mother who loves my Faith, my husband and my children more than anything else in the world. I pray the Rosary every day. I visit Christ in Adoration. My children attend a wonderful Catholic school. I volunteer, play tennis, help with school parties, and drive carpool.

Oh, and by the way, I’m an alcoholic.

I never would have admitted that when I was still drinking. But now that I have been sober for a while and am in recovery I have found that admitting I’m an alcoholic helps me hit back at the shame that can cripple me if I let it.

And if I’m lucky, being somewhat public about my problem might help another woman face hers.

Shame goes hand-in-hand with being an alcoholic mother. Shame is awful, sneaky. And it’s not of God.

The stigma of being an alcoholic can keep some moms from getting help earlier, says Ann-Marie Loose, LSW, a clinical supervisor at Caron Treatment Centers based in Wernersville, PA.  “You try to have the perfect home, be the perfect mom and wife,” said Loose. “And you look completely under control to the outside world, but alcohol is slowing destroying your life.”

And, Sarah Allen Benton, M.S., L.M.H.C. author of, Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic, said “It is as though the image of the “mother” and that of the “alcoholic” seem contradictory.” However, alcoholism does not discriminate and there are definitely good mothers who are also alcoholic.

My “problem” affected my marriage and my children, and it separated me from God. It wasn’t just about me anymore. As a Catholic mom it was imperative I tackle this truthfully, and in light of my Faith—without saddling myself with shame.

To be honest, I always knew there was something different about my drinking. I seemed to really love it. Everyone else could take it or leave it. Where other people had a couple of drinks to loosen up or wind down, I had a couple of drinks to “get going.” I eventually crossed the line from being a social drinker to being an alcoholic.

How did I know?  For me, I came to accept that I had a problem because of two things: God and my children. I came to recognize my dependence on alcohol was affecting my relationship as a daughter of Christ and as a mother to my children. So I became committed to seeking help.

The desire to mature in my relationship with God and the desire to be the mother I knew I could be were finally enough to get me to admit my problem and seek help. This was a very humbling endeavor, one I am so grateful to God for walking me through.

I think for each of us facing the facts about our drinking is a process, sometimes a long process. Sometimes that process is helped along a little bit by a DUI or an embarrassing episode. But for the most part, it’s something we come to accept through our relationship with God and with our families.

Experts offer these signs that our drinking might be out of control:

  • We start making mistakes, forgetting our child’s sporting event, missing appointments.
  • We start drinking before a social activity.
  • We begin to avoid situations where alcohol will be present because we have difficulty controlling how much we drink—we wanted to protect our reputations.
  • Once we start drinking we have trouble stopping.
  • The time between drinking binges gets less and less.
  • We might experience “blackouts,” which are simply periods of time we are unable to remember what took place when we were drinking.
  • We behave in ways that are uncharacteristic of our sober selves. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

If you think you might have a drinking problem, or you love someone who does, I encourage you to talk it over with your Confessor. I found great strength and courage from admitting my problem first in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

A few Lents ago, in the homily at Mass Father Frank challenged us to determine that “one thing” in our lives that was separating us from having a more intimate relationship with God.  For me, I knew right away what that one thing was.  I thought about this a lot. And then, finally, I gave up the alcohol.  And in doing so, my whole family benefited.

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44 thoughts on “Wife, Mother, Catholic, Alcoholic

  1. It is good that Father Frank put it on your heart to change for the better. It is great that you recognized the “one thing” that was separating you from having a more intimate relationship with God and were proactive in changing that. Many of us struggle to recognize and change the thing(s) that separate us from having a more personal relationship with God. I believe introspection and prayer are the answer to recognizing our faults and changing that which is separating us from having a more intimate relationship with God. Thanks for the inspirational post. God Bless.

  2. What a wonderful post! I agree with Teresa, “inspirational” is truly the word for it. You are a testimony of strength and God’s love for us all. I truly liked this post! God Bless, SR

    • This is going up as one of my CatholicMom.com columns today so I’m a little nervous to be in front of a wider audience but I’m hoping it might touch someone else. Thanks again SR!

      • Don’t be nervous. You have nothing to be nervous about!!! When you do these kind of post they are well done:>) They are truly hard to beat. A “wider audience” needs them, even if they think they do not:>) I know you will get many positive responses. God Bless, SR

  3. I had to come back and tell you. Out of all the post you do, the “reblogs” etc… I love the one’s that are from your heart. Those speak to me more then any you share with us, as you do them so well:>) God Bless,SR

  4. This post definitely spoke to me. And ironically, our church (not a Carholic one but Chridtian nonetheless) had a series on “the one thing” last year. To basically soul search as to what needs to change in your life – what is holding you back. I knew all along what it was and finally took the steps to change it almost two weeks ago as my drinking was definitely out of control. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Amazing post. One of the miracles of sobriety for me has been the transformation of my shame about my drinking into a shining pride in myself for confronting my problem and triumphing over it (for today and all my days, I fervently pray). So many people didn’t or haven’t.

  6. Stunning and beautiful…such a poignant and heartfelt post, Regina. Also, congratulations on getting on a bigger stage with that writing. The world deserves to see it. Women who are struggling with alcoholism and the shame of it can be touched by it, a seed sown in them and you have a chance to change one life. You are proof that God works through others. It’s seen through your dedication to family, to church, to God, to others in the recovery community. I wish for so many to come here and read your work on a daily basis. This is certainly one of my “go to” blogs, and I am sure I am not the only one…and there will be more. I am not stroking ego, but hoping that a strong and clear voice like yours reaches more hearts. There are lots of hurting hearts out there right now.

    Lovely work.

    Blessings,
    Paul

  7. I’m still an addict myself, an opiate junkie, and reading this gives me some hope. Pray for me that I may be granted the grace to overcome this battle and get my life back on track. I have always gone from one addiction to another and can rarely stay clean for very long. Please offer up at least a decade of the rosary for me and I will remember you in my prayers. Congratulations on your sobriety and courage in writing about your addiction and your struggles with it.

  8. When my wife and I found recovery in A A we stopped INFECTING our 3 children with our disease & began AFFECTING them with the 12 steps of healing& recovery !! IT WORKS !! God is Good ! (39yrs in August)

  9. My getting sober was what led me to be confirmed in the Catholic Church many years ago. The drinking had kept me in denial about my secret longing for a relationship with God. I re-found that relationship I had had as a child. I give thanks for AA for my surrendering to my Higher Power. Otherwise I’d still be drinking or dead.

    • you know, there are a lot of people that come to AA first and then come back to the Church. it’s a beautiful thing. thank you so much for your comment. i love hearing from my friends of bill w.

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    • ha ha ha yes! it does sort of feel like “coming out.” i should probably be embarrassed but it is what it is. thank you so much tom for your comment!

      • I’m wondering, are you at times troubled by the theology that is spread by A.A.? Don’t get me wrong, I think A.A. is a wonderful program. Indeed, it is one of the very places in the secular world where you will here people talk about God and what he means in their every day life.

        On the other hand, you will hear some of the most outrageous blasphemy at A.A. meetings. And no little bit of it is directed right at the Catholic Church. If I had a nickle for every share I’ve heard starting with “I grew up Catholic . . .” and I think Oh, no, this is not going to be good!, I’d be a wealthy man.

        But then I think my own Catholic upbringing was no model. My parents used to take us to Church, but the Catholic faith was never mentioned outside of Church. It had absolutely no meaning in our lives. And the poor priests and nuns. They were just figures to threaten you with if you were misbehaving.

        God Bless!

        Tom

          • Thanks very much for that. I admire you for responding like that. I have not done as well. I have tended to lose my temper and say something very sarcastic and rather mean spirited. I then get very annoyed with myself!

            So now I really just bear it and try not to lose my temper. I’ll say a Hail Mary for the person. But really that is problematic as well. We are called to be bold in defending the faith. Really we are called to be apostles. So my current compromise, could really be spiritual weakness, a sort of following Christ from afar. Yes, I’m Catholic, as long as no one is offended by it. And really isn’t that what this modern society says to do with our Catholicism?

            You’ve given me food for thought!

            Tom

        • Here is another post where I addressed this: http://catholicalcoholic.com/2013/01/04/congrats-monsignor-talley/
          The way I see it is as faithful, practicing Catholics in AA we have a unique responsibility. With so many x Catholics in the meetings we especially need to shine the light of Christ, profess our love for the Faith without being angry or defensive. Preach the Gospel at all times and use words, if necessary right? What we share and how we share may help or hinder another’s walk back to the Church. Who can resist someone who is on fire for their faith? Who can stand someone defensive and angry within their Faith. Don’t get me wrong. I do get defensive and angry too. But I think the times when I don’t get ruffled are the times I’m setting a better example and attracting. Everybody in my meetings knows I’m the Catholic one. And I love that! The Happy Catholic. Yay us for staying sober!!! I totally get what you’re saying and in fact that was a big part of why I started this blog to begin with.

  12. Amen, this is a great write up…Hallelujah, Praise God \ 0 /
    I really appreciate your transparency, about how you “Were” and Alcoholic, but, you’re no longer an Alcoholic… Because, if the Son therefore has set you free…You are free indeed…. \ o / Thank You Jesus \ 0 / Thank You God
    Bless You
    paul

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