“If we hide the fact that Dad drinks too much, then no one will know.”
Did you grow up in a home where things like drinking or drugs weren't talked about? Too often, when someone that we love is struggling, silence seems easier than saying something or possibly the wrong.
Today, I'm talking with author Kimberly Dewberry about her new book, Three Weeks to Forgiveness, which tells her story of God’s redemption in the dark places of addiction. In our conversation today, Kimberly talks about what it was like growing up with an addicted parent and perhaps, her reflections and stories might hit close to home.
Here is a recap of some of the questions that I asked Kimberly today. I'd encourage you to listen to and share today's interview if you grew up with an alcoholic family or you know someone currently living in that difficult situation.
What are your earliest memories of your dad’s addiction on your life?
“I remember going through hiding places where my dad would hide his partial or empty bottles. My mom wanted me to help her get rid of my Dad’s alcohol and get it out of the hose. But I didn’t understand what we were doing. At that point, I started to blame myself. Somehow, I thought that I was the one who made my dad start drinking again. I thought that I was being punished for something. At the time, I didn’t understand the feelings that I was having until I began going through recovery later in life.”
If you could go back and talk to yourself at 15 years old, what would you tell her?
"If I could go back and talk to my 15-year old self I would say, 'You did not cause this. This isn’t something that we cause or something that we could control. Honey, your mom doesn’t know what to do. She’s desperate. She reached out to you because she didn’t know what else to do.'"
As a teen, how did you react to your dad’s alcoholism?
“I was rebellious. I made horrible choices as a teenager and during much of my adult life. I was constantly searching for something and at the time I didn’t know what I was searching for. Now, I know that I was searching for confirmation that I was loved.”
How did your dad's alcoholism make you feel about yourself?
“I equated my dad’s isolation and silence with lack of love. That carried over to other relationships. So in other relationships, I felt that if they weren’t talking to me, then they didn’t love me.”
What role did God play in your life? Why did you turn away from God?
“Our family didn’t go to church when I was a kid. I got saved in my 20’s but one of the most important things that I didn’t have was a good mentor to help me or guide me. I was trying to do it on my own, but I didn’t know what to do. So, when I turned away from God, it was really out of selfishness.
I wasn’t angry or bitter at God. But I had done so many bad things that I didn’t feel like God could love me anymore. I felt like God was so disappointed with me. I thought that I was too far gone, so that’s why I turned away from God.”
What negative behaviors/patterns did you struggle with during your adult years?
“I’ve been married three times. I constantly sought my value in relationships, especially with men.” I also struggled with co-dependent tendencies. I thought that I’d be happy as long as everyone else is happy. So, I tried to control people, situations, finances, outcomes and kids. I felt so out of control on the inside that I tried to control everyone else on the outside.”
How did your dad come to live with your family before he died?
“After years away from the family and living on the streets, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He was released from the hospital and since he had nowhere to do, he came to live with me. It had been five years since I’d seen my dad.
It was through those three weeks of dad living in our home, that was the major event though God broke down the walls of anger, bitterness and how to show grace and forgiveness to my dad. I had a brick wall around my heart and God broke that wall down during those three weeks.”
What does it mean for you to find recovery as an adult child of an alcoholic?
“Who I am isn’t defined by my past. Who I am is defined by Christ. And I could not have realized that if it hadn’t been for God bringing Dad back into our lives for such a short period of time. After Dad died, I was grieving a lot. I got help from a Christian counselor and that’s when I heard terms like “adult child of an alcoholic” and “recovery.” I was realized confused because I thought that it was my Dad with the problem. But, I realized that I needed help, so I started with Al-Anon and then moved over to Celebrate Recovery.
In recovery, I realized that I had a problem, too. I have issues that I need to work on. I cannot control what other people do, I cannot control what other people say and I cannot control how other people act. Through recovery I was able to see that God is in control and He is the one that plans our steps. It’s our decisions and our free will that allow us to either go God’s way or our own way. I have learned that by going God’s way that I can have peace, serenity and love."
Who needs to attend a recovery program?
Sometimes, we don’t know that we need recovery until we start going. If you are feeling out of control and yet you try to control everyone, then consider talking to a licensed therapist/counselor, Al-Anon or Celebrate Recovery.
About Kimberly Dewberry
Kimberly Dewberry struggled for 25 years to cope with the pain, hurt, guilt, regret, unworthiness, and shame brought on by her father's addictions. Because of the loving grace of Jesus Christ, she has broken free from the shackles of rebellion and anger, and made it her life’s mission to share her journey through courageous prose.
Kimberly and her husband Patrick are the parents of 6 grown children between them and live in the Dallas area with their two super cute Boston terriers, Delilah and Daphne. Kimberly enjoys writing, reading, Bible art journaling, participating in Bible studies, and dating her husband.