Archives for category: Living with recovering addicts

My daughter and her husband are raising their children in the rooms.  The children go with them to a NA meeting once or twice a week.  The other nights, they take turns going, or I watch the kids so that the two of them can go together.  At the meeting, the kids know when to be quiet, when it’s ok to talk, when to go in the playroom at the meeting so that the grownups can talk.  They enjoy going because they’ve known these grownups their whole lives and they are loved and doted on.  They know doctors, nurses, lawyers,  grocery store clerks, carpenters, and electricians, and they know the Serenity Prayer.  Plus, they get to play with the other kids there – on a school night.

I overheard one of my granddaughters, Madison,  telling her friend on the phone, “I saw Chris last night.  He was at the meeting with his mommy.”  Hmmm.  How do you tell an 8-year-old about anonymity?  Some of my daughter’s “regular” friends will say to her, “What kind of “meeting” do you go to?  Vada (my granddaughter) told Addy about it and she wants me to go.”  My daughter gets tickled but she tells the truth.  She is not ashamed of her recovery, and doesn’t mind talking to others about it.  She proudly wears her NA shirts, of which she has quite a collection.  The kids even have tye-dyed shirts with the NA emblem on it.  Her husband says that it won’t hurt them to be around the 12 steps, since their parents live them every day.  It might even help the kids, to learn to make amends, accept personal responsibility, etc.   Between meetings and then church twice a week, they are a busy family.  There are worse places for kids to learn about success and failure, their higher power, and that living a good life is a work in progress for everyone.


My kids are living proof that addiction is hereditary.  Their natural father was an addict, both alcohol and drugs.  He didn’t help raise them, thank goodness, but as it turned out he had a hand in their future anyway.  My mother was an alcoholic.  My dad is an alcoholic.  Of the 7 brothers in my dad’s family, six of them were alcoholics.  My brother is an alcoholic.   

The kids didn’t grow up in an addiction household.  Their step-father, who adopted them, and I did not drink.  That’s not to say all was rosy.   I took them to a counselor because they were having emotional issues, especially with their dad.  The doctor confronted me once.  “It is obvious that your husband is an alcoholic.  Why do you and the children not talk about that?”  “Because he doesn’t drink,”  I said.  After talking more about my husband’s history (his father was an alcoholic), the doctor pronounced him a “dry drunk.”  He had learned the behaviors of an alcoholic from his father, a mean alcoholic who was abusive to his wife.

I managed to get them graduated from high school before the drugs and alcohol got really bad.  My daughter completed two years of college, and my son went to basic and AIT for the National Guard.  Then it all fell apart.  They threw away their good starts for the drugs, partying and spiraling away from me.  At twenty-four, my daughter became pregnant, and married her boyfriend, who was an addict, too.  Somehow, she managed to have a healthy baby girl.  Which leads me to my first post in this blog.

So, with the history of my mother being a falling-down, passing out on the couch in the afternoon, scared to bring any friends over, kind of alcoholic, of course I would marry an addict, and then later another man who might as well have been one.  I have carried a lot of guilt about this.  I felt like it was my fault that I had not provided them with a good male role model.  My daughter and son assure me that it is not my fault, that I provided them with a good home and love.  After their adopted dad and I divorced, they started giving me Father’s Day cards, because he had never been active in their lives, and they pretty much hated him.  They said I was both a mother and a father to them.  But still, I could have done better in my choice of husbands.  I’ll never forgive myself for wrecking their gene pool, and their childhood with a cold, hateful man.

In my childhood, dad was pretty much absentee, even though he lived with us.  My mother did damage to my siblings and I, so much so that I’m not sure we will ever mend completely.  The things she told us about my dad – no child should ever hear.  She loved  the older of my two younger brothers in a way that makes me scared even now to ask him what she did to him.   And she could be very cruel.  At fifteen I had never even been on a date, but while drunk she would call me a whore.  I did all the housework and cooking in our home, and had to go to an uncle often for help getting groceries, because I could not drive and we lived far out in the country.  School was my respite, my safe place.  I was painfully shy, but from the time the school bus came until we made the ride home, I could pretend I was a normal girl with a normal family. 

I remembered how my mother was with me, and I vowed I would not be that way with my children.  I protected them as much as I could, and even spoiled them a little.  I would do without so they would have nice clothes like their friends.  We went to church, they played sports and were active in clubs.  They were good-looking and popular.  I was so proud of them all through school.  Then the drugs took them away from me.  Turned them into strangers, people that I didn’t know. 

I was in Walmart once in the midst of their active addiction, and I saw a Walmart employee stocking shelves.  He had on his blue Walmart vest.  I stood in the aisle and cried and cried.  In their high school years, my dream for them both was to go to college.  At that point I would have been happy if my son just had a job stocking shelves.   He couldn’t keep a job and I was sure he was selling pills.  My daughter managed to keep a job until the very end of her active addiction, which was how she was able to hide it from me for so long.  It seemed as if my dreams for them to be educated, active members of society were not going to ever come true.