Wife, Mother, Catholic, Alcoholic

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Editor’s note: I want to personally thank Regina for sharing this story of grace, faith and courage. If you are a reader who struggles with an addiction, please know that you are in our prayers and please seek immediate help. For a full listing of Catholic Recovery websites, please visit Regina’s website. LMH

Wife, Mother, Catholic, Alcoholic

Regina Gulick: Wife, Mother, Catholic, Alcoholic

I’m a Catholic mother who loves our 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 an 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.

Copyright 2013 Regina Gulick

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13 Comments

  1. Bless you for your honesty! It surely can be liberating to share such a heavy cross. I have 2 high school boys, teach in a Catholic school and strive to be a Proverbs 31 wife. My addiction of choice is sugar. Though it not be as serious as alcohol, there are implications as well. I will keep you in my prayers as a friend I have yet to meet.

    • www.catholicalcoholic.com on

      Thank you for your comment! Bless you for teaching in a Catholic school! I love our teachers! Sugar is such a sneaky little bugger.

  2. You have beautiful courage. Way to go, Sister. We all have our crosses, and you have carried yours with the dignity of Christ. You make me feel strong in the face of my own crosses. Thank you. Have a blessed Holy Week!

    • www.catholicalcoholic.com on

      Thank you for commenting Shawna! You are right, it is my cross and I carry it one day at a time but with full faith and reliance on God. It’s turned into a beautiful thing.

  3. I struggle with alcohol too. One drink never satisfies. But most of the time that’s all I will have. Every day! Just try to take it away! Lol! but I absolutely believe I am being asked to let go of this attachment. I just am not having success. Gave up wine for lent. But bought beer. Am very afraid of personality changes from alcohol because that is what I grew up with. Any advice? Have gone 2 confession. My priest said no more than 1 drink. Most of the time I stick to that until it is 2 or 3.

    • www.catholicalcoholic.com on

      Oh Linda thank you so much for your comment. Yes, it is hard, I know. For me, I couldn’t really stop after one. Many people I know have a drink or two most nights but I wouldn’t consider them alcoholic. It’s something we just have to discern for ourselves with the help of our family and the Church. If you do decide to quit and need help you’ll find a ton of resources. I like the 12 Step programs but there is more than one way so you’ll figure out what works best for you.

  4. Thank you for your witness on this crucial subject. It can be so corrosive in a marriage, especially when the alcoholic spouse is in denial.

  5. Thank you for this post. I love the Lord. I want to be a saint. But I cannot win my battle with alchohol. I don’t drink everyday, so I tell myself I’m not an alcholic, but I can’t go more than a few days without drinking. And when I do dribk, it’s hard to stop. Bi feel lost.

  6. I, too, am in the same boat. I try, and maybe quit for a few days, but then the usual habits take over. And the guilt is just so hard to take. I feel like such a complete failure as a homeschool mother and wife. My drinking never interferes with the homeschool day or outings, but most days by 6 or 7 I will have a glass of wine. I really want to stop as my father was an alcoholic and died of cancer. I would appreciate any prayers or advice.

    • Hi Jennifer ,
      I’m Sarai , my advice is that the first step is acceptance . Have you accepted you have a problem ?… do you believe you need Christ ,more than he needs you to adore him . I go to mass regularly and it has helped me stop drinking too much . I also homeschool and blame , shame and guilt myself a lot . God would never do that to us . I heard it from my mother , I pray to forgive each little thing she did and for me to be different toward my kids . I have four little ones , I’ve done so Much bad I just pray to God daily I have begun to have special devotion to our Lord and that has helped . I can tell because my husband is my enabler and I haven’t been tempted by it when I humble myself and ask the Lord for help . Hope this helps your in my prayers Jennifer .

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