My song today is, “Don’t Come Home A-Drinking’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)”. This country music song was made famous by singer Loretta Lynn in early 1967. The song was Loretta Lynn's first Number-1 country hit. It is one of her best-known songs and is included in all her live shows. Tammy Wynette and Gretchen Wilson also made a cover of this record.
One of Loretta Lynn's best-known compositions, “Don't Come Home A-Drinkin’( With Lovin’ on Your Mind)" is about an angry wife who is fed up with her husband coming home late every night very drunk and wanting to have sex. The song was based on Lynn's personal life. Her husband is known to have been a heavy drinker. The song was the first of many controversial songs sung by Lynn, and was considered very controversial for the time, but was ultimately quite popular. An album of the same name was released following the song's success, which also rose to the top of the charts.
Thanks in part to the success of this hit, Lynn became the first female Country entertainer to win the CMA Award, ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’ award in late 1967. In 1970, “Don't Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” was certified by the RIAA as a gold album making Loretta Lynn the first woman in country music to receive such an honour. In 2003, "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)" was placed at Number 47 on CMT’s ‘100 Greatest Songs in Country Music’.
I have worked with many alcoholics as a Probation Officer in the past and I have even personally known a few in my lifetime. In almost every case I can think of (but not exclusively so) the real problem has not been how much the person drank or how often they got drunk or what social problems their drinking caused. No! Most alcoholics I have known have had underlying issues which needed to be emotionally resolved before they were able to break their alcoholic addiction.
‘Alcoholism’ is best understood if it is seen as being an addiction and an illness as opposed to a ‘problem’ per se. True, being an alcoholic creates problems in the drinker’s life and produces problematic behaviour whenever the subject is ‘under the influence’, but being an alcoholic is the ‘consequence’ of the real problem as opposed to being the ‘cause’. There is usually a deep-seated unresolved emotional problem that has never been satisfactorily and healthily dealt with, and until that underlying problem is identified, faced, honestly expressed, discussed and emotionally resolved by the subject, their addiction to alcohol will remain unbroken.
The unresolved problem can be virtually anything which creates emotional disturbance for the individual which leads to the repression of the traumatic event. I have known abuse in childhood (physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual abuse) to be the underlying cause. I have even known repeated ‘bullying’ in earlier life act as a trigger to drinking more and more until addiction takes root. I have known of young mothers who were addicted to alcohol and/or drugs life either have their child taken from them by the Social Services Department; and in other instances, I have known them abandon their own infant, or voluntarily placed them in care because they were unable to cope, or put their child up for adoption. In my own country of Ireland where I was born, it used to be common for a child born into a large family to be reared by an aunt or grandparents. I have even heard of aunts turn out to have been the child’s natural sister, and on occasions, even its mother!
Whatever the underlying reason happens to be, all that really matters as far as the alcoholic is concerned, is that the cause can be found in a situation of trauma and emotional disturbance in an earlier life experience/event which was never emotionally resolved because it was repressed and left at the back of one’s memory bank. Consequently, until it is emotionally resolved, the alcoholism cannot be effectively treated. To be emotionally resolved requires that the ‘initial event’ is acknowledged by the subject and is accepted by them as having happened. Then, the long-buried feelings about the situation which have been emotionally repressed can be finally expressed and dealt with; however angry the subject becomes.
What determines the efficacy of the process is the subject being able to emotionally express. They need to do whatever best enables them to get ‘the emotionally disturbing thoughts and repressed memory’ out of their mind and body.
I once supervised a woman who had been sexually abused by her father between the ages of 10-15 years of age. She told her mother what her father had done but her mother refused to believe her. Her mother’s refusal to believe her led her to feeling that she had been abandoned and violated by a mother and father who should have loved and protected her. She had never felt able to confront her father about his abuse of her throughout the five-year period of abuse. I advised her that the only way she could move on with her life was to physically confront her father with the consequences of what he had done (whether she decided to report him to the police many years after the event). Unfortunately, she said she could not because he had died during the intervening years and there was no father alive any longer to confront. She indicated that she had broken all contact with her family after she had left home at the age of 16 years, and although she heard of her father’s death, she had not attended his funeral ,and did not even know where he had been buried.
I told her that it was still possible to ‘bodily’ confront her father even if he was not alive. The young women in question was a member of one of my six-month ‘Relaxation Training and Assertion Training Group Programmes’ which I held in the ‘Huddersfield Probation Office’ for two hours weekly over a six-month period. She publicly revealed her abused situation to over thirty group members in one of the group discussions. All of my six-month groups would invariably bond closely during their long association and become very supportive of each other. Indeed, when a group member raised an issue which they were unable to handle (and which other group members might identify with), helpful suggestions of how the situation might be resolved would often follow. Learning what other group members had done in similar situations often produced vicarious learning (experiencing through the feelings or actions of another person).
After the group discussion, the group members were persuaded to accept my own proposition that even a corpse in the ground could be ‘emotionally confronted’ by an aggrieved person, even if their deceased state made them unable to respond. The upshot was that over the weeks ahead, we learned where the group member’s father had been buried and I asked her to allow me to take her to his graveside.
On the day in question, two other group members accompanied us. They wanted to provide moral support to the group member who had been sexually abused. When we arrived at her father’s grave, I told her to tell her father forcibly (at the other side of the green sod), the wrong he had done to her and the harm his sexual abuse had caused. I asked her to tell him out loud about the emotional disturbance his sexual abuse had created for her, and the emotional repression that had prevented her living a normal life as an adult. I asked her to loudly tell him that because of what he did to her as a child that she had been unable to establish a healthy relationship with any man during her adult life. She was encouraged to express any of the anger she felt towards her father’s behaviour, even if she had to scream it out, which she did. For around ten minutes, she was very tearful and angry. She cried non-stop and swore a good many times at the corpse beneath the soil. She said afterwards that this process had helped her enormously.
Please note, that while this woman was not an alcoholic, she could so easily have been, had she channelled her repressed feelings in a different direction. However, her situation illustrates that long-held and emotionally repressed bad events in one’s childhood are not beyond healthy resolution decades later; however unorthodox the method.
Love and peace Bill xxx