Interviewer: Juanita, can you share with us how you have been affected by the family disease of alcoholism?
Juanita: I was born into a family of three cultures—there was the Hispanic culture, there was the Native American culture, and, what we call in my state, the Anglo culture. And so, every one of those cultures brought alcoholism into the family. We have a long history of family members who are greatly affected—if not by alcohol, then by the family disease—although no one could say that they were. I have to say that because I was within those three cultures—we had those three cultures in the family—I never felt like I belonged to any one thing. I never felt like I could claim any one thing. While my first language was Spanish in my home, I would meet people who were of the Native American culture and the first thing they would ask me, because of the way I look, “What tribe are you from?” And I felt so embarrassed that I couldn’t answer because of my family’s shame of being Native American; because it was something that wasn’t spoken about. You know? So, I think part of that shame was alcoholism. You know, and we never could put a name to it, or the word to it, but I think part of that was definitely the alcohol. So, I grew up very, very ashamed of who I was, and that I didn’t have an identity, and that I didn’t belong. And I really believe that coming to Al‑Anon, really helped change that. There was going to Al‑Anon and seeing different people, and really, I got to the place where I quit seeing the different shades of the skin. People began to be just people. And I have a varied background, as I think many people in the world do, and I believe I am still learning—after 32 years of being in this program—to embrace all that I am and to be fully who I am and be authentic and say, “It’s okay.” You know? I don’t have to hide, I don’t have to squelch anything down, I am really free to be all and everything of who I am and embrace all of the cultures that are within me.
Interviewer: Thank you, Juanita, for sharing that with us today.