Tag Archives: 2016

I learned how to take care of myself

I cannot express how much Alateen has helped me. Growing up, I was all alone. My parents were always fighting. Whether it was about what to have for dinner or getting a divorce, they were always at each other’s throat. I would try to solve the issue and make things better, but I quickly learned that it made things worse. As a seven- or eight-year-old, I didn’t know how not to be in the middle. Until Alateen, I didn’t learn how not to get upset when they were fighting and to focus on myself.

Alateen has not only taught me how to detach with love from my parents’ fighting, but it has also brought so many friendships and opportunities in my life.

When I was younger, not only did I have to deal with emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from my alcoholic father, I also had to watch my life fall apart day by day. Although my life was extremely hard and sometimes unbearable, I put on a smiling face and showed everyone that I was the happy kid in school, and that I loved life. This was hard to do, but I certainly did not want people asking questions and finding out that I really was a sad and lonely girl who had messed up parents.

I kept everything quiet until about sixth grade, when my parents got divorced. The divorce was so hard on me. I needed someone to talk to, so I told a few of my friends what was wrong. Being in sixth grade, drama and secrets spread fast. By the end of the day, my whole school knew that I was going through a hard time and that my perfect family had fallen apart. This was very hard to deal with, but looking back on it, I realized that this is what brought me to talk to people. I wanted to be popular and have friends so badly that I just poured most of my life out to them.

With everything being so bad both at school and at home, my mom suggested Alateen. I wanted to give it a try, however my sister didn’t want to go. I found the courage to go alone. My first meeting was horrible. There was only one other kid and one of the Group Sponsors. Although I had hated that meeting, I decided to give it another shot, and I am so glad I did.

Slowly, everything started to make sense. I realized that I can’t control my father, and that it really is not my fault he is drinking. I learned how to find a Higher Power, and most importantly, I learned how to take care of myself.

Alateen has brought so many people into my life, and I don’t know what I would do without them. I am so thankful that I was able to bring four other people into the rooms of Alateen. Not only does Alateen help me deal with the alcoholic in my life, I use my program every single day. Words cannot describe how much Alateen has helped me. Although having an alcoholic in my life is extremely hard, I wouldn’t change it for anything because it brought me to Alateen.

 

By Julie, Connecticut
The Forum, August 2016

There’s a slogan for that!

As a mother of two young adult boys who have multigenerational problem drinking in their genealogy, I sometimes wonder if they’re developing their own problems with alcohol. I sometimes worry that they will end up like their dad and/or grandparents. It was only when my anger at the disease of alcoholism had become so overwhelming that I sought help from the Al-Anon program.

At first, the Steps and Traditions were a little too deep to try to unravel. The slogans, however, were just the thing I needed to get through each day. As soon as I became preoccupied with where my adult son was going, or how much alcohol he was consuming, I could take “One Day at a Time.” If he asked me for money to support his habits, I could “Let Go and Let God.” No matter what life threw at me, I could use a slogan to handle it.

Now with the advancements in technology, there are “apps” to help one do various things instantly. The same goes with Al-Anon. No matter what life throws at you, Al‑Anon has a slogan for that!

 

By Maxine D., Newfoundland/Labrador
The Forum, July 2016

My heart is open today

I met someone new recently. It was a completely unexpected event. As I spent time with this person, my heart was touched in a way that it hadn’t been in quite some time. A cascade of feelings came up afterwards, and I was a little unsettled for a while. I continued to work Steps One through Three and Ten through Eleven, every day, as I walked through all the feelings.

One thing I came to see is that meeting this new person and having my heart open up brought up other times in my life when I opened my heart for someone, but that someone was just not available to me.

When I was a young girl growing up in alcoholism, my father was the first person who was unavailable to me. He remained unavailable until he got into Alcoholics Anonymous and tried to reach out to me when I was in my 30s. By then, my heart had been hurt so badly that I was not able to let him back into my life. That was before I found my way to Al-Anon.

My mom was also not available. She was very focused on my father in the way that we all focus on the alcoholic when they are suffering in their disease. Unfortunately, the family I was born into has been deeply impacted by alcoholism. Although my father has long since passed away from the disease, my mother, brother, and I have not yet found our way back to each other.

I know that I have also had my heart open in romantic relationships where the other person was not available. I also know that before I found my way to Al-Anon, I was not available either.

I am available today, though. My heart is open, thanks to Al-Anon. Meeting this new person has helped me to see that I have some grieving to do for the times I gave my heart to someone who was not in a position to receive it. I am grateful for Al-Anon’s book, Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses (B-29), which I can refer to as I work through my grief.

The gift of this experience is that my Higher Power is giving me an opportunity to see some of my past patterns in relationships more clearly, and to do another layer of healing. It feels good, today, to have the capacity to be in relationships with people who are available to be with me. I am very grateful to the Al-Anon fellowship for these gifts.

 

By Anonymous
The Forum, July 2016

A mother practices ‘Live and Let Live’

Our son was struggling with his addictions and needed a place to stay for just a few days. I strongly felt I should bring him back home. My husband was more skeptical, and I didn’t blame him. The year before, our son had pawned many of my husband’s possessions to feed his addiction.

However, I soon realized that our son would be staying for more than a few days, and I became nervous. Even though I had my Al-Anon group, and focused on taking “One Day at a Time,” I was juggling my work schedule so I was home while my husband went to work. Our son did not have a job, and we both felt we could not trust him to be in our home alone.

It crossed my mind that this could be a great opportunity for my husband and my son to start rebuilding their relationship. Before Al-Anon, I would have been giving each of them all kinds of suggestions and advice on how they could do that. But Al-Anon taught me to stay out of other people’s business and keep the focus on me. So that’s what I did. I didn’t say a word, although I was tempted several times.

The amazing thing is they figured this out on their own. A week after my son moved in, my husband’s boss offered our son a temporary job. My husband thought it was a good idea. I wasn’t so sure because that meant they would be spending more time together, and I was afraid that would be too much togetherness. However, just the opposite happened. They would come home from work deep in conversation. I even heard them laughing a few times about something that had happened during their day at work.

Our son ended up staying for ten weeks. After he moved out, my husband said they had talked more in those last few weeks than they had in the last 18 years. Things are far from perfect, but I am awestruck by how much this situation improved our relationships. I firmly believe that an entire family can benefit, even if only one member follows Al-Anon’s principles.

 

By Debbie
The Forum, July 2016

How Al-Anon works for me

When I first came to Al-Anon, I was so empty inside I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I couldn’t believe that my husband’s drinking was going to end the day he entered Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). He promised so many times to stop drinking, and now A.A. was going to help him and not me. As for our three children, I felt that I didn’t have any control over their behavior.

Slowly, I started to listen to the Al-Anon members in my weekly meeting. Gradually, I came to understand that alcoholism is a disease. I repeated over and over that I can’t control it, I did not cause it, and I can’t cure it. My group said, “Let A.A. take care of him, and let Al-Anon take care of you!”

Al-Anon helps me to look back on my behavior, particularly my behavior with my children. It was hard to admit that I probably harmed them more than my husband did. They knew their dad drank, but they wondered what was wrong with me.

When I heard people in Al-Anon share about growing up in an alcoholic home, it helped me realize that I, too, was a child of an alcoholic. This is what I brought into my marriage. I couldn’t blame everything on my husband anymore.

In the beginning, I used my Al-Anon group as my Higher Power. Today, I call God my Higher Power. God used my Al-Anon group to help me. Through God, and with Al-Anon’s help, I made it through a son’s attempted suicide, my parents’ death, the early pregnancy of a teenage son’s girlfriend, our two sons’ drinking and drug abuse, and going to court to fight for grandparents’ rights. Al-Anon has helped me keep my serenity.

Today, I am still in Al-Anon. I’ve held many service jobs in my group, district, and Area. I love reading the books and pamphlets of Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature. When my Al‑Anon friends share their stories, they give me a step-by-step approach on how to gain back my self-respect and self-esteem, and on how to keep them. The Al‑Anon program works, and I am proud to call myself an Al-Anon member.

 

By Carol R., Minnesota
The Forum, June 2016

My life was unmanageable and insane, only I didn’t know it

My life has been a journey; not always what I expected, but never anything I could not handle. I often think about how I got to be the person I am. I never realized the role alcohol had in all of it.

The first 25 years of my marriage were filled with progressing insanity. As my husband’s disease progressed, so did mine. Denial was my survival tool: ignore the drunken outburst; ignore crying children; ignore car accidents; and ignore verbal and physical abuse. My children were witnesses to all of it. My life was unmanageable and insane, only I didn’t know it. I began to lose my identity. I was the perfect enabler. I made sure everyone around me did not know my secret, or so I thought. I was in control. I made excuses, covered up, and made many deals to avoid the issue.

In 2000, I began to become unraveled, and my children were beginning to show signs of being affected by this family illness. My house was insane. When my husband’s car would pull in the driveway, everyone scattered to avoid him.

I confided to a friend that I could no longer stand it. I went to a therapist, who suggested Al‑Anon. I said, “Why do I need to go to Al-Anon? He has the problem and he needs A.A.” But off I went to the basement of the old church.

I can remember, like it was yesterday, how I felt: scared, nervous, embarrassed, alone, and worried I would know someone, or that I would have to speak. But what I found were people who were friendly, kind, inviting, and nonjudgmental. I felt safe. It is because of those people many years ago that I am in Al-Anon. Every time I see a newcomer, I am humbled and grateful for this program. Where would I be today?

As I continued to attend meetings, I realized these meetings were about me and for me, not him. For the next few months, the Serenity Prayer became my mantra. Practicing the Al-Anon principles and living with an active alcoholic was tough. Things were getting worse at home, but now I knew I had to get control of my home and my children.

One day, after a bad evening with my husband, my 16-year-old daughter wrote me a letter and said, “Either he goes or I go. I can’t live in this house.” That was my “aha” moment. No way was I letting her move out, so I gave my husband 48 hours to leave. He thought it was an idle threat. He bounced around to different family members, finally realizing he needed help. He went to rehab.

Well, I was glad I won. Al-Anon worked. Boundaries were set. He went to A.A and got sober. So I stopped going to Al-Anon. I still wasn’t happy. I couldn’t blame the alcohol anymore; he wasn’t drinking. My therapist, once again, sent me to Al-Anon.

This time, not only did I go back, I worked the program, did the Steps, used the slogans, read literature, got a Sponsor, and used the telephone list. Now, I was truly an active member of

Al-Anon, and lived the principles of the program every day of my life.

It has taken me many years to see that only I can be in control of my life and no one else. I am responsible for my actions and my happiness. This program has taught me self-care, how to do the Fourth Step, and to only take my own inventory. I no longer beat myself up for a slip; there is always tomorrow. One regret I continue to have is that I didn’t act soon enough to protect my children from this disease. I do know I did the best I could at the time. I am still a work in progress.

When an Al-Anon group was started at the church I attended, I thought, “Let me give this a try. It’s my parish and so close to home.” I was no longer afraid I might know someone. So I went and, for a couple of weeks, I was the only one there with the person who started it. But I persevered and today, 11 years later, we still meet every week with sometimes 25 people in attendance. This is my way of paying it forward. The experience, strength, and hope of every person who has walked through this door have helped me on this journey.

I will never forget how and why I am here. I am ever so grateful that my husband is sober 14 years and never had a slip. We are in this together, and both still committed to our programs “One Day at a Time.”

 

By Anonymous
The Forum, June 2016

Today, I know that love is unconditional

I grew up not knowing the difference between shame and guilt. Shame told me that I was fundamentally unworthy, insufficient, and unlovable: a “wrong” person. Guilt is what I feel when I make choices that disrupt the harmony between myself and my Higher Power, other people, or the universe.

My shame came from physical and emotional abuse suffered in childhood, a lack of validation and support at home, and a rule-oriented religious practice that seemed to say I could almost accidentally be damned. I also discovered, at age 11, that I was gay. I thought it was something horribly unique to me that made me an unfit human being. Feelings of shame and guilt made it very difficult for me. Since I saw myself as “wrong,” the hope of being a good person was hard to realize.

Shame robbed me of the thought that I could be loved. I didn’t see that I deserved love, which had a huge negative impact on my relationship with my Higher Power. God was a fierce judge, not a loving parent.

Shame meant I didn’t understand that love is unconditional. It seemed to me that God’s love came with many conditions and catches, and had to be earned. I thought this was true of human love, too. It led me to set conditions about whom and when I would love; conditions so impossible to meet that I couldn’t love freely.

In my months in Al-Anon, I have never felt judged by any other member. Instead, I received the message that I am loved just as I am, character defects and all. The first three Steps are teaching me how to trust my Higher Power, Al-Anon members and principles, and the universe.

I have learned that my Higher Power is there to help me grow and change; pick me up when I stumble or fall, and teach me that I am loved unconditionally.

I am not a finished product, but I am finding enough serenity in the Al-Anon program to make hope take root and grow. I am starting to feel some gratitude. I am learning to live without unreasonable fear. I am starting to feel love, and return it.

 

By Joe M., Kentucky
The Forum, June 2016