The Healing Journey: for Adult Children of Alcoholics
by Daryl E. Quick
Children of alcoholic parents have been scarred, and they carry those scars with them into adulthood. They learned coping mechanisms in their childhood that got them through, but now those skills are hobbling their lives. Was it burying feelings? Was it keeping from relationships? Was it finding control or burying yourself in alcohol? This book, written by an adult child of an alcoholic, offers a practical process to heal, and heal well. It’s not an overnight change, but a journey that will take a long time. Quick advocates the AAA system: Awareness, Acceptance, and Action, and he goes through that process for emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. To make a change, we must first be aware of the problem. Then we must accept that this is reality; no more excuses, no more trying to look better. Only after being aware and accepting reality can we take action to change. In the action chapters, Quick offers many, many practical solutions for the process.
When I wrote about Keeping the Faith, I got a couple of suggestions of where to turn that would be a better resource. This was one of the recommendations, and it was a good one – for what it is. Quick’s AAA process works. I’ve been unwittingly using it in my counseling, apparently! So many people deny what is real that yes, the first step is awareness of the problem. But even that’s not enough; we must accept that the problem is real, and accept that it is our problem.
And while the book is aimed at adult children of alcoholics (it’s right there in the title, after all), yes, I think this book can be useful for anyone dealing with a trauma. Encouraging people to actually speak about their problems, to tackle bad thought patterns, to address emotions that have been buried… these are good things. Quick also encourages talking to God about your problems. Yes, God already knows, but you need to talk with him and learn that it’s good to be honest with God.
Quick has obviously absorbed the Gospel and knows that it is the solution, too. He speaks about Jesus being familiar with suffering, and that is a comfort to us. But…
…I don’t recall ever being shown that Jesus died for our sins, too. He talks about us needing to forgive because we have been forgiven, but I don’t recall him ever releasing the adult child of an alcoholic from their own burden of sin. And yes, many people struggling with past scars will be dealing with their own guilt, too – both real guilt and imagined guilt.
I know I sound like a broken record, but that Gospel is absolutely vital. A person who was hurt by their parents needs comfort. In fact, Quick is, um, quick to point out that God has comforted us. But he doesn’t show where that comfort comes: at the cross. Do you see? Yes, I know you have been hurt. And that pain is real. So very, very real. I can see the pain you’re in. I want you to know this: Your God loves you so much. You were abandoned. You were not taken care of. You were even abused. Yes, I know. But your God has not abandoned you. He came and joined you in your pain. He screams in rage at this injustice. But do you see? He loves you so much he chooses to take your place for what you have done. The weight of your guilt? The weight of carrying this load for so long? He has taken it. You bear it no more. What he did on the cross was enough. You are a child of the King now.
Without taking away the guilt, all the other advice in the book may well help, but it will not give what is necessary.
That said… what is in this book is good and will be making its way formally into my counseling practices. I’ll be using this book to work through, along with a lot of Gospel. Quick’s methods appear solid, and he doesn’t twist Scripture to make his point. He assumes Gospel, which isn’t good, but it means that what’s here is useful.
If you’re in pain from past trauma, ask to go through this book with your pastor. It’ll be useful for you on your journey.