Tag Archives: self-care

Choosing Whether to Ride the Roller Coaster

Loving an alcoholic is like being on a roller coaster. The ride involves unexpected twists and turns, and things can get very scary. One moment I’m riding high and enjoying the view, and in the next instant, I am plunging to new depths. Just when I think the ride has come to an end, it seems I am taken on another crazy adventure. At times, things are upside down, and I feel like throwing up or jumping off the ride.

There definitely is a thrill to being on the roller coaster of crisis and chaos—it’s exciting, dramatic and distracting. The experience gets my adrenaline going and makes me feel alive. However, the roller coaster has a dark side. I forget to take care of myself, and I neglect other important responsibilities. I can get so used to being on the ride that I forget to put my feet on the ground once in a while.

Al‑Anon has helped me know that I have a choice today about whether I stay on the ride. I can even leave the amusement park if I so choose. It’s okay to take a break from the roller coaster and catch my breath.

By Christina S., Ohio
The Forum, May 2017

Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Hdqts., Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.

Finding hope at my first Al-Anon meeting

When I started coming to Al‑Anon over 20 years ago, I had no light, no hope in my life. I had been married almost a year when I walked through the doors of my first meeting. Everything on that day felt like darkness and despair to me.

During the meeting, I remember the lighting in the room as being dim. The atmosphere seemed to add to my mood. I remember thinking, “How could these people, sitting around a table—actually smiling—understand what I was experiencing?” I felt I desperately needed to quickly find a solution to help me handle what appeared at that time to be an insurmountable problem in my life!

As I searched the eyes of those sitting around the table, I had a strange sense that I was in the right place. Although just sitting in the chair at the table was challenging for me, I tried my best to focus and listen, to take it all in. I wanted to feel something. My mind kept whirling. I asked myself what was going to happen to us, what would the future bring, and could or would my life ever change? I had no hope.

I heard someone read a passage from a pamphlet that I found out later was titled, Understanding Ourselves & Alcoholism (P-48). The words that resonated with me then included:

“Perhaps the most severe damage to those of us who have shared some part of life with an alcoholic comes in the form of the nagging belief that we are somehow at fault. We may feel it was something we did or did not do—that we were not good enough, not attractive enough, or not clever enough to have solved this problem for the one we love. These are our feelings of guilt.”

Ahhh . . . feelings of guilt got my attention. My solution that night was to buy Al‑Anon literature, take it home, read it, and figure out what I needed to do. Luckily, I couldn’t figure out what to do on my own. I did find hope in the pages I read and the courage to keep coming back to Al‑Anon meetings. I was grateful at each meeting for the presence of the other members.

Although this was a very dark period in my life, I am aware that if it had not been for the presence of those smiling members at my first meeting, I would not be where I am today—thankful to be a part of the hope for those seeking our fellowship now and in the future!

By Marsha W., Director of Programs
The Forum, April 2017

Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Hdqts., Inc., Virginia Beach, VA

Today, I’m doing more of what makes me happy

“Don’t make me stop this car!” The bold quote on the travel mug sitting on the shop shelf caught my eye. I laughed out loud. How many times had I said that to my daughter? I bought the mug.

That was six years ago. Today, I grimace when I think how I blamed my youngest for my crazy behavior. No one can make me act a certain way; only I can control my emotions and conduct.

Today, I don’t even like the travel mug that once made me giggle. But I keep it to remind me how far I’ve come. When I feel my anger surging, I no longer blame others, but look within to find my part in it.

Recently, I bought another mug that makes me smile. It says, “Do more of what makes you happy.” It took some reflection and investigation to rediscover what makes me happy. I was so busy working on my career and being a wife and mother that I felt I had no time to make myself happy. I thought back to high school and remembered I enjoyed arts and crafts. I searched for classes and studios I could join. Each day, I try to do something nourishing. Sometimes, it’s something small, like picking up a new library book.

My transformation began when I heard at a meeting how the flight attendant always instructs passengers to place the oxygen mask on them first, before turning to help anyone else. I had flown and heard this before, but this was the first time I accepted it as my responsibility for my self-care. It’s not selfish. It’s logical. How can I help the person or child next to me if I can’t breathe?

When I’m happy, it’s easier to think calmly. Through Conference Approved Literature, listening at meetings, and sharing honestly with trusted friends, I’ve learned that I have choices and what my choices are. I can change. I can learn to take care of and control myself. I’ve altered my attitude and it’s transformed my life. “Keep Coming Back.”

By Shelley H., Pennsylvania
The Forum, December 2016