It has been almost 14 years since my father had his last drink, his last rage, his last broken promise, and his last lie. But it wasn’t until he stopped drinking that I realized I was just as sick as him. I wanted so much to trust his words, to not be afraid of him getting angry, and to trust that he wouldn’t lie to me. But the reality was that I still feared all of it. He stopped drinking, but I didn’t stop fearing.
The sickness boiled over into other relationships and affected my social life. As long as I could remember, I feared alcohol and places where people would over-drink, like parties, weddings, and bars. I never knew if someone would get out of control and hurt me. When deciding on who I was going to let into my life, I had a strict screening process. I felt I had to protect my children and myself from going through what I had lived through as a child and young adult. I thought all this made me healthy. I thought that although I couldn’t control my father or my home life when I was a child, I could certainly control it as an adult. I was protected and I was safe.
In Al-Anon, I have learned that control is a façade that people who live or have lived with an alcoholic needed to protect themselves. In reality, I don’t have any control over people, places, or things. I have learned that not only do I not have control, I don’t even want it. Having that much control meant that I had to have that much responsibility in everyone else’s life—a burden much too heavy to carry. In Al-Anon, I learned ways to become free of that emotional weight. I learned that in trusting myself, I could trust others. In loving myself, I have learned to love others. In being strong and emotionally sound, I have developed strong and emotionally sound relationships. Al-Anon gives me the tools to set me free.
Today, through my continued commitment in the Al-Anon program, I am strong and I know that no matter what happens in my life, I am capable of handling it. I am no longer afraid.
“Looking back and remembering what I was like…makes me realize how grateful I am to the program.” Alateen—a day at a time (B-10), p. 366
By Sarah R., Maryland
The Forum, May 2016
Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.