The Word Among Us

January/February 2024 Issue

Letting Go of the Masks

My Encounter With God’s Generous, Healing Love

By: Gail Gaffney-Smith

Letting Go of the Masks: My Encounter With God’s Generous, Healing Love by Gail Gaffney-Smith

Oh, the growth the Lord provides, no matter our age or season of life! I grew up in a Catholic family bearing the challenge of a parent who struggled with alcoholism and mental illness. Even though our home life was chaotic and extremely difficult, we all tried our hardest to project a “normal” image to the outside world. The problem was that in the 1960s and 1970s, there wasn’t a deep understanding of the science of addiction or of the pain that comes when addiction is compounded by mental illness. So we didn’t know that family members in our situation often take on the unhealthy mindsets and habits of an alcoholic—without ever having taken a drink.

As a consequence, I developed a host of behaviors that I thought would help me survive the turmoil, fear, and instability at home. But...


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