Jody Lamb is a Michigan personal growth author, blogger, and adult child of an alcoholic (ACoA). She has spent the last ten years healing from the trauma and neglect she experienced as a child. Her most recent book, “7 Things That Change Everything” addresses the challenges of living as an ACoA and is designed to give hope to other ACoAs like her.
Jody took some time to talk with us about her latest book and provided some great insight into her healing process as an ACoA. You can read more about her and her journey at www.jodylamb.com.
“7 Things That Change Everything” was one of the first to address the topic of healing as an adult child of an alcoholic (ACoA). Why do you think no one else had attempted to tackle the topic with a book before you did?
Answer: “About 30 years ago, the first clinical books about the Adult Child of an Alcoholic syndrome were published and they flew off the bookstore shelves. They helped ACoAs recognize how their experiences affected how they live today as adults. I think ACoAs themselves feel reluctant to share about their personal experiences because it can be painful to write about them, they may feel shame or embarrassment despite knowing how common it is and they worry about the reaction from their family.”
Throughout your book, you stress the fact that education is key to healing as an ACoA. What do you think is one of the most common misconceptions about being an ACoA among those who lack education on the topic?
Answer: “Healing as an ACoA is about healing and reprogramming your brain. It has nothing to do with your alcoholic parents at that point. All our lives, we are focused on solving what we believe is our problem to solve: getting a parent to stop drinking. In the process, we take on an extreme level of responsibility and worry. We fail to understand that we literally have one job in life: to take good care of ourselves. That’s it. When we are focused on solving a problem that we have no ability to solve, we become ill ourselves.”
In your book, you describe how you were a prime example of an ACoA and lost your own identity in the process. Are there certain things you do daily to continually reclaim your identity and discover more about who you are? If so, what are those things?
Answer: “Yes, it’s true. I felt I did not have my own life. My family and I had one big, dysfunctional life. Every day, I use a simple question to guide smarter decision making: Is this good for you? It seems basic, but it works. This helps me keep my codependency in check. Asking that question helps me say no to taking on projects or responsibilities that are not mine and it helps me see clearly how I should spend my time. I do not let a day pass without giving at least 15 minutes to things that bring me joy such as writing.”
In Chapter 5, you talk about how being a member of an alcoholic family reprograms your brain. Now that you are in the process of reprogramming it, do you ever find yourself falling back into old thought patterns and behaviors? How do you fight this?
Answer: “Whenever there is a major change, a problem that pops up or something stressful happens, I find myself easily reverting to my original thought process. I think, “this is my problem to fix and it’s all on me. Everyone’s counting on me.” Self-care activities are quick to be neglected and before long, I have a set of bad habits. I fight this by reminding myself that even when it feels wrong because of my natural inclination to be the martyr, I must make difficult decisions to ensure I am taking good care of myself. This means saying no to people and sticking up for myself. This is much easier to do when I am diligent with self-care. When I am getting enough sleep, eating properly, and giving time to what I love, I am far more effective in keeping my old thought patterns at bay.”
What is your relationship with your mother like today?
Answer: “While our relationship will always be complicated, my mother and I have a stronger relationship than I could have ever imagined. We talk at least once a week. It feels as though we’ve moved out of our swapped mother/daughter roles, and that’s a welcome, comforting feeling. Several years ago, I let go of a lot of resentment I felt toward her and that helped her let go of a lot of guilt she felt. For my fellow ACoAs, I hope my experience gives hope that your relationship with your parent(s) may be better one day than you can possibly fathom today. Healing is powerful.”
Do you have any new books or projects in the works?
Answer: “I’ve been focusing on new personal growth content on JodyLamb.com. I’m also writing a non-fiction book/memoir about what I’ve learned about life throughout my career, which includes thoughts on how being an ACoA has affected my career.”