Tag Archives: 2016

I learned to detach from my son—with love

I had two immediate thoughts when I first heard the phrase “detaching with love” and parenting in the same sentence. One, it’s a good theory. Two, whoever coined this phrase did not have children. How could a loving parent ever detach from their child knowing he or she was struggling and in pain?

Today, I have a better understanding of this concept. “Detaching with love” doesn’t mean I don’t care about my child or that I’m abandoning him. It doesn’t mean I don’t love him or think of him often. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel sad or disappointed about his lifestyle. I am only detaching from the horrible disease that he has been fighting for the last five years.

I still find myself worrying about him. When that happens, I ask myself if I can do something constructive. I have learned to trust my instincts. When my son was still active in his disease, I told him he could not move back home, but he could call me day or night and I would take him to get the help he needed. When he didn’t have access to a phone anymore, I loaned him my cell phone. If I’ve done all I can without enabling him, I “Let Go and Let God.” I pray that God watches over him and keeps him safe for me.

As of today, my son is sober. At the end of each day, if I haven’t heard differently, then I consider it a good day for him. This wasn’t how I pictured my life when my son became an adult, but I have accepted the fact that this is my new reality. I thank God for my Al‑Anon friends, and I continue to take “One Day at a Time.”

By Debbie L., Minnesota
The Forum, October 2016

Forgiving myself for my shortcomings

As a child, I felt I could do nothing right. My father was impatient and critical. I thought, “When I’m grown up, I’ll get it right.” My father’s parenting style was to point out everything that I did wrong, and nothing that I did right. I believe he thought he was helping me become a better person. Of course, I never got everything right, but it didn’t stop me from trying. I demanded too much of myself in striving for my father’s approval. This determination carried over into my roles as a wife, a mother, and an employee.

When I came to Al‑Anon, I heard many slogans and sayings: “Easy Does It,” “Let Go and Let God,” “Progress Not Perfection,” “expectations are resentments waiting to happen,” and “put your oxygen mask on yourself first.” They were perplexing. But I knew there had to be a better way to live, so I kept an open mind, listened at meetings, read Conference Approved Literature, and eventually found a Sponsor.

Once I realized I was expecting too much of myself, I eased up, threw away my lists, and became less pushy. I renounced my endeavors to be perfect. My change in attitude allowed me to forgive myself for my shortcomings. Then it became easier to let go of my expectations of others, and I was also able to forgive them for being human. It was a relief to begin making different choices in my life.

This domino effect led me to find serenity, and my peace of mind and happiness continued to escalate. My faith in Al‑Anon also increased, and I began to understand that my old slogans, such as “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” no longer served me. I recognized that I and others each have our own Higher Power, and I’m not it. My Higher Power started as Al‑Anon, and now it’s something more. “Keep Coming Back.”

 

By Shelley H., Pennsylvania
The Forum, September 2016

Change—a journey of ‘Progress Not Perfection’

Al-Anon is not a program of completion or destination. Two years ago, I entered the rooms of Al‑Anon distraught, confused, and looking for answers as to how to help my two sons who suffer from the family disease of addiction and alcoholism. I did not get what I wanted or expected, but I did get what I needed. Much has changed in the past two years, and yet much has stayed the same.

Though I have a program, I don’t always follow it. Though I have a Higher Power, I don’t always know His will for me. Though my sons are doing better, they still struggle with the family disease, and so do I. Though my husband and I both have program, we do not always see things the same way. Though sometimes my husband and I disagree, we can have an Al‑Anon meeting for two to work things out instead of forcing our individual wills. Though I never want to enable, I still want to help. Though sometimes the best thing to do is nothing, I still struggle with wanting to do something. Though I have a strong program and many tools, I still don’t understand or have all the answers. Though I have more faith, fear knocks at my door often. Though much has changed, some things are still the same.

I still make mistakes because I am not ready to do what I may know is best, and that makes me human and a work in progress. I know I am better than I was when I entered the program, but not exactly where I want to be. I have recovery, but I am not recovered. I will continue to come to meetings because what I know without question is you, my chosen family, will help me get to where I want to be.

Change is “Progress Not Perfection.” I get to work on my recovery every day, “One Day at a Time,” as long as I am open-minded, willing, and grateful for the lessons.

 

By Shelley G., Florida and Toronto
The Forum, September 2016

I found myself—in the midst of chaos

The most important day of my life was the day I walked into my first Alateen meeting. A week before, I was waiting for my guidance counselor in her office. I spotted a pamphlet that had an array of questions about alcoholism. At the bottom it said, “If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then Alateen is for you!” I answered “yes” to all the questions, and started on an amazing path to self-discovery and serenity.

The alcoholic in my life was my stepsister’s mom who came to live with my family because of her life troubles. I never saw her drunk. I only heard loud snoring and mumbling from the next room, and the stories my mom told me after we asked her to leave. All I saw was that she either never stopped moving or never started moving. When my stepsister lived with us, they would verbally abuse each other.

I always felt it was my job to mediate the situation because I was “mature.” It was my job to fix things. It was my job to help them get along, because if I didn’t, who would? It never worked, but I tried over and over again, hoping for a different result. I’ve learned in Alateen that my mission was in fact the definition of insanity. The end result was me feeling worthless. I always focused on them instead of myself. I didn’t even know how to focus on myself.

Before discovering Alateen, I struggled with depression and anxiety. There were times it got so bad that I was not able to get out of bed and go to school because I would be crying so much. I didn’t have any friends because I was not able to talk to people. During high school and the first few months at cosmetology school, I was that small-looking, unapproachable girl with a dark cloud over her head. This girl sat alone at lunch tables, refused group projects, and turned people away because she was afraid of rejection.

Alateen is the most amazing, eye-opening experience I’ve ever had. It is best described by one of my Sponsors who once said, “It is a safe place to find out who you are in the face of chaos.” Not only did the program help me with coping with the alcoholic, but everything I’ve learned can be applied to my daily life.

Although I do use and appreciate the Alateen slogans, the thing that resonated with me the most was what another Alateen member said—it wasn’t her job to fix other people’s problems. I jumped at that thought. I remember being truly amazed that it wasn’t my job to fix the alcoholic. I learned how to separate myself from the alcoholic’s situation. I learned to detach with love. I realized my actual job was to take care of myself.

My depression and anxiety have substantially subsided, and I have made real connections with other Alateen members. Every week, I become a better person just by showing up to my meeting. There is no way to explain how grateful I am for Alateen.

 

By Kayla F., CT
The Forum, September 2016

Dreams do come true

Three years ago, I could barely say my dream aloud. Today, I’m living it. Back then, a friend asked me about my ideal job. I meekly squeaked out my answer: I wanted to pursue my passion at home while raising my children. At the time, it felt like a faraway dream. Growing up amid active alcoholism, I was used to keeping my focus on others and neglecting myself. I didn’t know what I enjoyed, what I was good at, or where I fit in.

Although my colleagues commended my smart, strategic mind, I spent almost a decade in a dead-end job at an organization I didn’t respect. I certainly hadn’t applied my smarts and strategic skills to my own life. Instead, I naively hoped my dream job would miraculously come to me. I also felt paralyzed by fear.

Thank goodness for Al‑Anon. Over the past three years, I have worked my program with my Sponsor as my guide. Like adventurous archeologists, we have excavated the real me and uncovered my natural talents. Now, I respect and honor my abilities, taking time each day to hone my craft. By mapping out a rational plan and diligently working away at it, I have reached my dream. I feel exhilarated! A friend put it best: Dreams without action are just fantasy. I feel so grateful for Al‑Anon’s gentle encouragement to finally choose to take steps toward my dreams rather than continue to fantasize.

 

By Lisa G., Ontario
The Forum, August 2016

Today, I love my son with no resentments

Soon after my son turned 18, he announced that he was moving out. I knew by the look on his face not to challenge his decision. That was 28 years ago, and with the exception of three or four brief times, he has not wanted to be a part of my life. During his brief pop-ins, he would wreak havoc, and just like that, be gone again. I didn’t have Al‑Anon then, and so I got caught up in the doubts, fears, and shame. It was agony. There is a hook in being a mom, and Al‑Anon is where I found the courage, strength, and wisdom to unhook myself from my son’s unacceptable behavior.

Miraculously, I was led to Al‑Anon where, ever so slowly, I began working the program with a Sponsor. The more I learned, the more I wanted, and that kept me coming back.  As a result, I’ve been given guidelines for living a healthy life, and a toolbox filled to overflowing with every possible tool I would ever need to keep me out of the problem and in the solution.

Two weeks ago, after seven years, I heard from my son via e-mail. Although cool in tone, his words conveyed that he wanted us to have a relationship. Being cautiously optimistic, I responded simply and affirmatively. His third e-mail, however, showed his colors, and as a direct result of living the Steps, I was able to stand in my own truth. I was happy to learn that he was well, and I was looking forward to building a healthy relationship, but after receiving that e-mail, which was riddled with assumptions and conditions, I truly did not see how this would be possible.

Today, because of the Al‑Anon principles, I am able to love him right where he is now, with no resentments. I have also been given the clarity to acknowledge the risks to my well-being. Today, with my Higher Power’s help, I am willing to do the next right thing.

Lo and behold, by trusting my Higher Power and knowing that more is always revealed, several days later I received a response that was warmer in tone and included an apology. This is a first, and a miracle in the making.

 

By Rosemary B., Arizona
The Forum, August 2016