Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest: Alberta Sequeira
Guest Bio: Alberta Sequeira is a four-time award winning author, motivational speaker, a co-founder to Authors Without Borders. book “What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict”. She is the author of “Please God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism” a sequel to her book , “Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis”. She is a Continuing Educational instructor with workshops for writers, and a director, producer and co-host of the NBTV-95 Cable TV Show.
Segment Overview: Alberta Sequeira discusses the effects of a parent’s alcoholism or drug addiction on their children. She tells what children should know in order to cope.
Health Professional Radio
Neal: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. Thank you so much for joining us today. Many of our listeners, being healthcare professional themselves, often see the effects of drug and alcohol addiction when the victim arrives in the E.R or sees them in their office for maybe a follow up from some accident that they’ve had due to their alcohol or drug addiction. Our guest in studio today, Mrs. Alberta Sequeira, is a four-time award winning author, motivation speaker and co-founder of ‘Authors without Borders.’ She’s also the author “Please God, Not Two: This Killer called Alcoholism,” a sequel to her first book “Someone Stop this Merry-go-round: An Alcoholic Family in Crisis.” How are you doing this afternoon Alberta?
Alberta: I’m doing very well Neal.
N: Thank you so much for joining us today. You know, I was talking about many of our listeners saying the effects of alcohol and drug addiction when there’s a crisis in the making, when they’re in the E.R or in jail or something like that. But there’s another aspect that sometimes is overlooked and that is how a person’s alcoholism affects those around them when there’s no immediate crisis that is evident. You have experience with the loss of family members to alcohol and drug addiction and that’s what we’re here to talk about today. How you were able to cope and the advice that you can give to those who may be trying to cope now or going to have to cope with it not knowing that right now.
A: Well, I think the first thing I can give for advice is to start, really, with the mistakes I made. Now we’re talking about back in the 1980s. I got married back in 1962 and I met a man and I had signs back then of his drinking but I didn’t realize it back then. I came from a very happy family so I never even knew what drinking was about but then after having my two children Lori and Debbie, four years apart, I started realizing that my husband Richie was really getting into his drinking. And you don’t really realize that or maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Maybe something I’m really not seeing. Maybe I’m not understanding that men like to drink to relax.” Because that’s the excuse I used to be given. But now that I’ve talked to people, I tried to talk about the mistakes I made because I’m not a professional. I never tried to be. I just try to give experiences from what I had and what I went through and I think the biggest mistake I made firstly with my husband, was enabling.
A: I never talked to my parents which my father was a retired one star brigadier general in the army and he might have very well been able to help the both of us. But I always had that feeling – if I don’t tell anybody, maybe he’ll stop drinking and they’ll see the good part of Richie.
N: Well, you say part of that was maybe if you don’t tell anyone, maybe they’ll see the good part of your husband?
N: How much of it, if I may ask, was the fear of maybe revealing something that you know deep down inside is going on but you don’t want it to be true?
A: Well, back in those days it was really the same thing like if you were divorced. If you we’re a divorced woman, it was like “Oh my Lord, this woman is divorced.” That’s how they look at you. Well, I felt the same thing. I felt because I lived behind closed doors and didn’t talk about what was going on, I felt like if I’d admitted to somebody that I was struggling with a husband and that we were trying to deal with alcoholism, that somehow as sick as it sounds, I would feel like they were judging me. There’s got a be something wrong with me if my husband is drinking because I was only 20 years old and I didn’t fully understand what alcoholism was all about. Because when I met him and saw he was drinking only when he was he was with his friends, my girlfriend was “Oh Alberta, don’t worry about it.” That’s the macho thing that guys doing there with their buddies and when he dated, he didn’t. So, I thought well you know maybe I’m wrong, maybe that’s what guys do. I mean, that’s how I looked at it. But what you do without meaning to is when you don’t make demands on that person. What I did is I brought him deeper into his addiction and actions might…
N: That’s the enabling that we’re talking about.
A: Yes, the enabling. Thinking you’re protecting him. Let’s say, if somebody is out drinking adult or child and you’re protecting them by not telling anybody, what responsibility do they have to take? Because you’re protecting them and what I did which made it worse is I took the young years of my two daughters away from them. Because when Richie started drinking, Lori was 2 and Debbie was 4 and you’re bringing these innocent children into witnessing things between adults that don’t involve them, but they are involved. My daughter, ashamed to say, between ages four and six, Debbie ended up acting like the adult. She would come out and say, “Daddy, what are you doing? Stop it.” Because this didn’t happen right away. This took maybe six years of our marriage when he’s drinking started going into blackouts.
N: So that’s when the role reversal started with your daughter, yes?
A: Yes. So they started witnessing that and I was trying everything in my power to be nice when he came home. But then he would tear the shoes off the bed; he was on an angry mood; he was looking for a fight; he was looking for an excuse for it and I’m trying to keep him calm because I didn’t want to upset the kids. But it was like a rollercoaster, Neal. That’s why the first book and I named it “Someone Stop the Merry-go-round” because when I moved to counseling, one recovering alcoholic I should say remarked, “Someone has to get off the merry go round to stop the routine.” And I’ve never forgotten that. In other words, if you keep just doing the same thing day, in day out, month out, year out, you’re goanna have the alcoholic in control of the situation and they’re not gonna look for help because they know you’re gonna put up with that.
N: Yeah, that’s the enabling. The enabling is even more insidious than the alcoholism at some point.
A: Yes, but what I did was I injured my children.
N: Now, what would you have told your daughters if you had known then the things that you know now? What should a child see or look for in an alcoholic or addictive parent?
A: Well, now that all depends on what age we’re talking about Neal because the 2 and 4 years old, my daughter had no control. Here they are loving the father who gave attention and love and played with them when he came home. And then the next day, shaken in bed and I found a lot of this out after Lori died. My other daughter Debbie and I did a lot of talking to write “Please God not Two” and I didn’t realize it Lori used to run into Debbie’s bed because she was scared. I think of these things now and I get sick. That’s why when I talk to parents I tell them, “Don’t stay with the person if this is how it’s gotten in the home.” Kids don’t need that kind of love. I think what people are afraid of, they think that because this is happening instead of getting a solution by separating and working it out being separated that people think, “Oh my Lord if I do this, I’d have to divorce him but I still love him or her.” You don’t have to divorce and I think that’s what I was looking at instead of saying, “Look, I love you. I’ll support you. This is your problem. We need to separate so not only don’t we hurt ourselves, we don’t hurt our kids.” But back then, I didn’t have that knowledge. I had no job and let me tell you, that puts a woman in a state of fear too like, “Where am I gonna go?” My mother called when she found what’s was going on years later, like 10 years. She offered myself and the girls to go there to live with them and the whole mess but I didn’t want my kids to be taken from their home or their friends because I had a problem.
N: Right and wrapping up this segment, I’d like you to describe briefly as someone who’s experienced the loss of a loved one or both two loved ones to alcoholism and addiction. What would you say to a healthcare professional who has no idea that there are these underlying effects of this disease that some people call it in the home? You know, maybe that would shed some light up on how maybe they should react or treat someone who comes in suffering from an overdose or a family member who has a child that’s suffering from an overdose. What would you say to them who suffered such a lost?
A: Well, from what I’ve witnessed with my husband and my daughter, losing them. Neither of them would talk to anybody in the family about their emotions or their hurts. My husband talked very lightly about his past with his mother and sister drinking and losing his father. So my advice to medical staff is look more into why the person is taking drugs or alcohol. Something from their past hurt and triggered them so much. And I’m talking from the experience of my daughter because I found out after her death, the things that happened to her and I never knew them. Once she hinted that something happen with her and her father. I never knew it, it almost knocked me off the loop – not my daughter. And its’ like “When? Where?” So, because Lori couldn’t talk about it and she even have that trouble with counselors. What I think happened is she buried it deep under and what they did instead of facing what the problem was and sharing that with professionals, they just would rather not talk about it. I mean that’s how I feel from what I witnessed.
N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. We’ve been in studio today talking with Alberta Sequeira, a four-time award winning author of “Please God, Not Two: the Killer called Alcoholism” a sequel to her first book “Someone Stop this Merry-go-round: An Alcoholic Family in Crisis.” We’ve been here talking about some of the effects that a person’s alcoholism or drug addiction has on their children, not just their spouse or their co-workers but the children and how some of their innocence and security is threatened simply by being a victim of alcoholism or a drug addiction. It’s been great having you here with us today Alberta.
A: Thank you very much Neal.
N: Transcripts of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.