The following was written by a Jew in Louisville who currently attends Al-Anon meetings:
I was 22 when I had a realization: My father was an alcoholic. I wanted to run from the truth. I ignored it for many years but wherever I went, the truth followed me.
My father’s unexplained absences and appearances left us confused and hurt. He would not show for a music recital but would appear unexpectedly at a graduation, drunk and stoned.
He once told us we were going to move across the country. We sold the house, got ready and prepared for the move. Then he showed up to tell us that he was moving without us. There were many times when he would choose favorites among his children and then pit us against each other.
His absence held us prisoner just as his being there could hold us hostage with disappointment. This is alcoholism.”
Alcoholism is a disease that makes people lie, steal, cheat and deceive, tell hurtful truths, be unreliable and untrustworthy.
Alcoholism affects the whole family. It’s an illness that is pervasive and baffling. It destroys anything and anyone in its path.
Alcoholism affects people regardless of race, religion, financial status or education.
Profoundly lonely, I moved from city to city seeking a place where I might feel comfortable. I was in constant fear of making someone angry, of being abandoned, not perfect, not smart, not attractive and just simply not good enough.
The affects of alcoholism are deep and long lasting.
The alcoholism in my family is not my fault, but it is up to me to make a change if I want my life to be different.
A friend encouraged me to attend a 12 Step group which supports families or individuals affected by someone else’s drinking or addictions – a 12 Step program for family and friends of alcoholics! I cautiously attended. I was worried that I’d be the only Jewish person there. I was very wrong!
Now after several years I honestly can’t imagine my life without the wisdom, love and support of the fellowship of the 12 Step community. My family has healed and continues to heal one day at a time.
I learned that I can be happy whether the alcoholic is drinking or not. It takes work, but I am a better person for it. I can love my father and forgive him because I now have a better understanding of his illness.
Note from Jewish Family & Career Services: Jews are not immune to addiction, whether it be alcohol, drugs, gambling, internet or food. For information for yourself or a family member, contact the JFCS confidential phone line at 727-9287 and speak with a Jewish person in recovery.
Through the Klempner Center at JFCS, educational programs, counseling and referrals are available. Find out about the Jewish Women in Recovery, a fellowship for Jewish women who participate in a recovery program. Don’t feel isolated from the Jewish community – there is help.