The little boy stood in his driveway sobbing as his Mommy sped away in her late model car. She had been drinking and her two-year-old son was left unattended.
That awful picture is more and more becoming the scene of an ever-growing landscape of human disaster.
The holiday season brings the best and worst out in people. Many people are consumed with the spirit of giving and reaching out. While for others, it is an emotional nightmare. Those who find the holiday season painful tend to turn inward and become more depressed. Some seek to ease the pain by using legal over the counter medications.
Others use illegal drugs and alcohol to temper their feelings of pain, anger and anxiety.
This emotional roller coaster is further complicated by denial.
There are many well-educated, caring people who delude themselves and others. They use a litany of excuses in an attempt to cover their reckless and/or addictive behavior. Family and friends are often caught in a catch twenty-two because they are used or are part of the enabling and excuse network.
Mrs. JK is a well-educated mother of two small twins. She is a very successful working Mom. She lives in an affluent South Shore community with her husband who is a successful upper management computer executive.
According to friends, they have a wonderful "Ozzie & Harriet" life. However, if one takes a closer look at this so-called happy household, one sees some real conflict between Mom and Dad. The conflict is not obvious to the larger community, but is evident to those closest to them.
Like many college sweethearts, during their college years, Mr. & Mrs. JK were pretty big partiers. When they graduated from school their partying life tempered substantially. They continued to date. Mrs. JK continued her education because she was determined and focused. Mr. JK floundered, but worked consistently.
They married three years after graduation. They spoke of their love affair as one made in heaven.
Mrs. JK got an excellent, high paying job. Her husband was still floundering. She encouraged him to go back to school. On her salary, they were able to support his graduate education, their affluent life-style and a home.
After a series of career changes, Mr. JK found his professional niche. His wife continued to successfully work. They decided to have children. Two years ago, she gave birth to healthy twin boys. However, prior to their birth, there was some concern that Mrs. JK was drinking too much. She had the kind of high powered job that demanded a lot of entertaining. She hid behind that. When confronted, she always denied that it was a problem. Initially, Mr. JK denied it was a problem.
When she was carrying the twins, she totally abstained from all alcohol. She convinced everyone that she did not have a problem. For months after the twins birth, she showed little evidence of any drinking. As the boys approached their first birthday, it was obvious that she was having a glass of wine with dinner. More and more frequently, she would ask her husband if he wanted a drink when he got home from work before they sat down for dinner. If Mr. JK said yes, she would always join him.
During the boys first year, although her drinking re-emerged, she was never observed as being drunk and/or out of control. She was drinking but "seemed" to be in control. Her husband became concerned and confronted her. His bedside manner was less than wonderful, but he was frightened. He noticed the liquor bottles decreasing rapidly. When he confronted his wife, she became enraged. Needless to say, she denied any abusive escalation in her alcohol consumption.
Mr. JK decided to limit the amount of alcohol in the house. He was overtly monitoring its consumption. The household liquor was not being touched, but Mrs. JK was continuing to drink. She was getting her "stuff" from other places. The cleaning woman was finding little sample bottles of vodka and southern comfort in the strangest places. Her husband suspected she had some stuff locked in her car. Mrs. JK's affect was now noticeably changing. She was consistently more on edge and even at times hostile.
What does one do when faced with this kind of human struggle? The identified patient is in denial. The husband is definitely not helpful. He has elected to distance himself and blame all of life's woes on his wife's drinking. He does not own his part in feeding her addiction.
The greatest casualties in all of this are the beautiful twin boys who are constantly at risk and in danger because of their Mom's reckless choices. Her greatest fear is losing her sons. At this moment, their greatest need is to be safe and unfortunately protected from a mother who is wounded by her addiction. She does not see what she is doing and what potentially she may lose forever.