While sorting papers in my office recently, I came across an excellent pamphlet titled “The Family Trap” by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, an esteemed family therapist and author. She is an expert in understanding the patterns of behavior in the family of a chemically (or otherwise disordered) family member.
Finding it, I had a rush of emotion and was taken back to an important event in my life. I had been in counseling after my divorce from my combat vet. My therapist mentioned an upcoming weekend seminar that focused on grief, codependency, and the effects of living in a “high stress” environment.
The seminar was led by two therapists and was held in a small building that was called “The House of Hope.” It was certainly an apt name for the attendees, as I soon learned that the thirty-so people enrolled there (and myself!) needed hope so desperately. At the beginning of the seminar, we were each given a copy of “The Family Trap.”
It seemed we all could have been classified as “the walking wounded” as stories emerged of family trauma. There were those in the midst of divorce, those battling various addictions (and those who loved them,) those suffering depression, victims of sexual abuse, etc. etc. I’d say PTSD ran pretty rampant in that room.
We broke into small groups where we could share individually. One lovely young woman cried as she spoke of her heartache. Seems her father had been sober for twelve years and had fallen off the wagon. She was grieving the loss of the wonderful father she knew, as he descended once again, into chemical insanity.
The author of “The Family Trap” writes in the foreword: “This booklet was designed with three goals in mind:”
- To recognize the primary nature of the disease of chemical dependency.
- To recognize the family dynamics contributing to, contained within, and affected by the progressive nature of the disease.
- To understand what is needed for recovery of the chemically dependent family.
Cruse writes that chemical dependency is a family disease and a primary disease within each family member. Continue reading 'Understanding Family Roles within a Chemically Dependent or High-Stress Family'»