My name is Miriam, and I am the founder and Director of My Father’s House in Gloucester City, New Jersey. How does one begin to tell the story of how this Intensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Center began. Well it first began as a Female Halfway House.
here in Gloucester City.
It actually began many, many years ago within my heart. As I recovered I always knew there would be a place called My Father’s House. The name comes from the biblical verse John 14: 1-7. But it took many years for it to come to fruition.
It was actually born within me when I first recovered from alcohol addiction 32 years ago, July 9, 1978. My surrender to God was profound. It was horribly, magnificently, excruciatingly holy and profound. I reached the pits of hell within me, and I let go to the majestic holding of our Heavenly Father’s everlasting arms. I Surrendered and thought I was dying only to find I was lifted up in His abundant embrace.. I had no idea of what road lay in front of me that night, but I told Him that my life was His forever. And that He had to live my life with me, because I could not or knew not how to live it alone. When I gave Him my life, I was terrified and afraid of where I was going and what would lie ahead, but overwhelming assured that somehow all would be well, as long as I trusted this power within.
Alcohol had been part of my life since I was a child. I was born to two wonderful, good people. My mother and father were the best, but they both fell prey to the devastating disease of alcoholism. . Back then everyone drank. They sat around kitchen tables every Saturday night and laughed and relaxed. Men worked hard and they were due there relaxation time. No one spoke the words alcoholic and if you were called that you were considered weak and having no morals. So we all laughed at drunks; people falling off chairs when they had too much to drink; or we couldn’t wait to see the guy or gal who got so drunk at a Wedding, because they kept us laughing. Those were the days of innocence.
Addiction is insidious, cunning and baffling says AA. And this is so true. No one ever thinks they will become addicted. In the l950’s the AMA (American Medical Association) deemed alcoholism a disease. And we even knew before that that it ran in families. Today we know it is a brain disease.
When a client enters treatment here at My Father’s House they are met with welcoming support and understanding of their situation. We are so glad that they are here. There is no judgment, only caring and joy that they have come. Resistance comes with them as they enter our doors, for it can be emotionally upsetting at first. Most of our clients come to us from the criminal justice system,, that is they have been found to have driven under the influence, or they may have been arrested due to possession of pot, etc. But all are hurting, confused, some angry, and many embarrassed that they are here. And then there are those who come to us broken, ashamed of their past behaviors, desperately wanting help.
Substance abuse and/or addiction destroys relationships, hinders one’s respect for self and love of self, and devastates family relationships.
Addiction promises escape. For the addict the compulsion to us alcohol and/or drugs is more powerful than the other basic instincts and drives. Consequently, just knowing why one abuses alcohol and/drugs doesn’t give one the power to motivate change, but being immersed in a group of caring peers has real power and opens the door to a life changing experience.
When one enters on the road of recovery one enters into the transformation process.
The journey is a spiritual one and a rewarding one – a journey that one could neverimage. It is a journey through the Twelve Steps of AA/NA
A journey that will excite one about one’s new life, as one gratefully reflects on the Wonder of His Love, His Mercy and His Grace.
Until next time, I am, In His Love, – Miriam, Founder and Director of MFH
Family & Addiction.
Addiction is a family disease because it effects all members of the family. It is insidious within our relationships as well as cunning and baffling. To think that being addicted to alcohol or drugs just effects the addict is irrational. We are all part of a whole, and what happens to one person in our family of origin effects us as well. It may be subtle but it effects how we relate to others. All behaviors, attitudes and ways of relating are learned. We become dependent on other people’s views, attitudes, and ways of relating to us. Thus, when one is involved with an substance abuser or addict, one may fall prey to the devastating dilemma of “co-dependency”. This term “co-dependency” appeared on the treatment scene in the late seventies and has been attributed to many authors. Be that as it may everyone and anyone who has been involved with an substance abuser or addict should read Melody Beattie’s book, “Co-Dependent No More”.
Co-Dependent characteristics are: Caretaking, Low Self Worth, Repression, Obsession, Controlling, Denial, Dependency, Poor Communication Skills, Weak Boundaries, Lack of Trust, Sex Problems, and Anger. When a client recovers they then begin to claim their role within the family; a role that probably has been taken over by the spouse/partner or children. Problems begin and counseling is needed in order to reclaim a role, set boundaries, identify issues and concerns, learn listening skills while setting some common goals for the future. All this requires family counseling for the entire family.
There are no perfect families whether one comes from a family with addiction or not. All families are dysfunctional to one degree or another. The same tapes, “self talk” developed when one was a child continue to affect all people as adults until this “self talk” is changed. Children learn from their families how to behave in social situations and how to think of themselves. Adults who grew up within a dysfunctional family setting, and we all have, often share certain ways of acting. These behaviors as described by Dr. Janet Woititz are listed below.
- frequently guessing what normal is.
- frequently having difficulty finishing a project.
- lying when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
- judging themselves harshly and without mercy.
- having difficulty relaxing and having fun.
- taking themselves too seriously.
- overreacting to changes over which they have no control.
- constantly seeking approval and affirmation.
- generally feeling different from other people.
- being super-responsible or super-irresponsible.
- being extremely loyal, even when that loyalty is undeserved or inappropriate
- acting without feeling or thinking about consequences.
After one obtains and is maintaining sobriety the initial “high”, being on cloud nine, begins to level out and the real hard work of recovery within their relationships begins. This is where the real hard work of the family, with the family working together, is desperately needed. Client’s usually come into family counseling telling their story, while sharing all of the gratitude they have within their heart for how far they have come. Now the Journey continues into another phase. The healing has just begun as the necessary changes in their roles take place. Family matters.
For some the obstacles and changes they have to make overwhelm them and they slip or pick up again. But there are always people here to help them. It is not the quantity of your sobriety that is important but its quality. Healing takes time; it takes years for most. Forgiving ourselves and expecting forgiveness is a slow process, and much self discovery and sharing must occur before this healing can happen.
We must be encouraged to say the Serenity Prayer as we journey through this process.
“God Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the Wisdom to know the difference.