Moss' story is about an important subject. The overlaps in addition, substance abuse and mental illness. It follows her recovery from being raised by a father who has a life-long alcohol problem and who suicides after getting sober. This book could just as easily be about being in a home with a mentally ill parent. And, it might be. You don't always have a diagnosis to put a (murky) frame around your parents behavior. In a way, a diagnosis is a luxury. With a diagnosis, we get a language and way of talking about mental illness that can help us look for appropriate help. We can find each other and learn sharing stories and finding our way through to better life skills together.
This is the encouraging message that Moss leaves us with. She does eventually find herself capable of clear boundaries and feeling as though she deserves a safe and loving home. It's not easy. Without functional examples of appropriate stress responses, important life skills and boundaries in relationships, she struggles to find those in her life as an adult. She became part of the ACOA - Adult Children of Alcoholics - community. A system of skills tailored to those she needed help developing, and a community of people to help along the way. She admits that even after years of practice, the new skills and ways of interacting don't come naturally to her.
There are days when I long to argue, fight over forgotten phone calls, money that disappears like ice in hot sweet tea, suspicious callers that hang up in the night, the deep disappointment gnawing away at my heart. . . . I don't want it anymore. But it calls my name sometimes in the still of day, when nothing is moving. Will I be able to resist? Long term, will I? Will I be able to keep that wolf from my door? Breathe slowly: in your nose, out your mouth. pg.220