Tag Archives: November

I Put the Focus on Myself

When my 15-year-old son began drinking, I would stay up and wait for him. The happy young son who loved to play the piano after dinner and read lots of books in the living room was now angry and stayed out until midnight on a good night. Or he didn’t come home at all on nights like this one.

One night at 3 am, I looked out of the living room window, the room dimly lit by a small lamp. I looked straight into my own eyes through the reflection in the glass. It was just like the years I spent when I was growing up. I would get on my bed at home and kneel. I would look out the window to see if my sister was coming home.

I knew I couldn’t do this again and that I needed help. I had suffered alone growing up. With my son, the pain was unbearable. I couldn’t understand why his attitudes had changed at home and school. Blame and confusion filled my days.

The eyes in the window pleaded, Help me! In the morning, I called an Al‑Anon contact number and was directed to a local meeting.

I had no idea what Al‑Anon was. There I found a home and a place to heal from the shame and guilt I felt. It was the first time I heard that I was powerless over alcoholism and shown how to take care of myself.

By Lorraine H., New Mexico

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

I deserve to be happy

By the time I got to Al‑Anon, I was an angry, resentful, withdrawn woman. I had shut my parents and siblings out of my life because I didn’t want them to know what was going on. I always hoped the drinking would stop and no one would need to know what was going on in our home. Of course, I wasn’t fooling anyone. Finally, my sister, who had been attending Al‑Anon for years, asked me if my husband’s drinking bothered me. I said it did. “Then Al‑Anon is for you,” she said. I went to my first meeting.

After going to Al‑Anon for several years, reading the literature, getting a Sponsor, and working the Steps and Traditions in my life, I learned how to live with active alcoholism with some peace and serenity. I was unhappy in my marriage, but felt I had no choice but to continue in it. I had seen the effects that the breakups of my three sisters’ marriages had on my parents. I did not want to put them through that again. I was scared to live on my own and be responsible for myself and my living expenses.

Meanwhile, my father’s health had been deteriorating. One morning, my mother called to say he had been taken to the Emergency Room. She asked my siblings and me to come to the hospital, as it looked like he was nearing the end of his life. My siblings and I took turns going in to see him to say our goodbyes.

When I went in, he was barely conscious, an oxygen mask covering his face. I took his hand, told him I loved him and that he should stop fighting, to breathe and let go. All he could do was squeeze my hand. My mother had to speak for him. She told me that he worried about me and just wanted me to be happy. I realized then that I’d thought I was protecting my parents, but I’d been causing them grief instead, as they watched me in my unhappy marriage. I felt that my father gave me permission, before he passed away, to end my marriage.

I was ready for a change. Within a few months, I told my husband I wanted to separate. I wanted to end my marriage without hurt, but I realized that after 25 years there was going to be some pain. With the support of my Al‑Anon friends and my family, I worked through the pain, grieved the end of my marriage, and survived without too much heartache.

In Al‑Anon, I learned that I had choices and I deserved to be happy. I learned to be independent and to speak up for myself. I learned that I could face my fears with my Higher Power by my side. I learned to be open and willing to accept God’s will for me, and to put my father in God’s hands to look after. Because of Al‑Anon, I met and married my second husband, who is a recovering alcoholic and attends Alcoholics Anonymous. It is great working our two programs together in our home.

Sometimes, I see the effects of growing up in an alcoholic home on my children. Two of them attended Alateen and Al‑Anon many years ago. As much as I want to, I know I cannot fix their problems. I might quote a slogan I think might be useful, and I always tell them if and when they want to attend Al‑Anon, I would take them to a meeting. A few years ago, my first husband passed away because of complications from his alcoholism. I was able to grieve and support my children over the loss of their father.

I thank God for putting that alcoholic in my life and bringing me to Al‑Anon. I am grateful for all the wonderful gifts I’ve received by practicing this program every day and in every area of my life.

By Marilyn K., Ontario
The Forum, November 2016

My first Al-Anon meeting surprised me

I came to Al‑Anon late in life thinking I was nearing its end. Things were as they were, not as I needed them to be. I had friends who were happy but I really wasn’t. I blamed this on my wife’s drinking, spoiling things for me, her, and us. I was not happy.

I was a good and passionate teacher. The best moments of my life were when I was teaching, and when I wasn’t, my spirit often felt strangled and scared. Throughout my life, calm moments were rare exceptions.

My first Al‑Anon meeting surprised me. No one was talking about the people and circumstances ruining their lives. The Twelve Step program didn’t seem to want to help me fix my wife. It offered to help me fix myself.

I was asked what I like to do for fun. I didn’t know or couldn’t remember. I was introduced to the Twelve Steps. I was able to acknowledge my powerlessness and my unmanageability, but not my insanity nor needing the help of a “Higher Power.” I was raised in a church with a white male authoritarian God who spoke to me through white male authoritarian church leaders. I wasn’t ready to accept more of this.

This was part of my insanity with life. With the help of my home group and my Sponsor, I began my recovery. Slowly, step-by-step, I changed and, in time, got better. It was hard for me to stop trying to help my wife get sober. Yet, I slowly learned to mind my own business. As I did, our relationship changed, allowing her to face her own life. She did and still does. My own recovery has been a blessing for her.

My recovery helped me remember my childhood and youth, the alcoholism within my family, and my abuse by an older neighbor. I began to see its effect on me throughout my life, with the opportunity to broaden my recovery.

The largest and most helpful step in my recovery has been my relationship with my Higher Power. In the beginning, my Sponsor suggested that I act as though I already believe in her. I reached for her with many important and difficult issues. She always helped, often in surprising and miraculous ways. She is now my daily companion.

It has been over 20 years since I started changing myself in Al‑Anon. These are the best years of my life.  Each day brings me happiness and serenity. This is not from what others say or do, or what happens around me. Life is not always easy, but it is always full of joy and beauty. I have learned to see this more each day.

By Jim N., Oregon
The Forum, November 2016

I was changing, and I liked it

When I went to my first Al‑Anon meeting, I was very surprised to find so many happy people talking before the meeting about things other than alcoholics. After attending the suggested six beginner meetings, I felt I had said all there was to say about our problems as parents of an alcoholic. I was encouraged to join the “regular meeting” the following week.

I learned through members sharing that many had been attending meetings for years, long after the alcoholics recovered, left the house, or passed away. I wondered why these people kept coming to meetings. Surely, they had better things they could be doing.

I saw that members talked about themselves a lot and actually had lives that centered on themselves and not the alcoholics. I wondered why. Didn’t they care about the alcoholics and want to help them stay sober?

I saw people volunteering for service at the meeting. Some made coffee, took care of literature, cleaned up, etc. I wondered why. I saw people going after the meetings for fellowship. What was fellowship anyway?

Even though the reading at the beginning of the meeting kept telling me I was here because of the alcoholic, not for the alcoholic, why would I have to continue going to meetings once I got our son to stop drinking?

After attending for several months, I felt part of the group. I was welcomed and comforted by others. I had the feeling that people actually cared about me just the way I was—a  somewhat emotional wreck. I too, had a choice on a Friday night, and I chose to keep going back. They all had what I wanted.

I began to feel that the sharings, topics, slogans, and daily readings were changing my thinking about whom the meetings were actually helping. I had some tools to work with. I was changing. I was thinking differently. I was feeling compassion for our son. I was beginning to detach. I was learning about setting boundaries. I started to take “One Day at a Time.” I was learning to “Let Go and Let God.” I was developing a relationship with a Higher Power that I could trust to do what was best for me. I was feeling the support from other members. I asked someone to be my Sponsor.

I looked forward to not only one weekly meeting, but I began attending more meetings in different locations. At one point, I was attending four meetings a week because I felt the more meetings I attended, the more reinforcement I was giving myself. I liked the change that was taking place between my ears.

I realized I wanted to go to meetings. I was never too tired, and if I was tired, I went anyway because the feeling I had after the meeting was always uplifting. Al‑Anon members understood what I felt as a child living with an alcoholic father, and what I felt as the mother of an alcoholic son because they felt it too. They understood. They had empathy, not sympathy, for me. I made friends. I wasn’t alone in this journey. There are some amazing people in these rooms. One of the most important things I learned early on is that there is always hope.

This is a program through which I have learned to better cope with my problems, celebrate my joys, feel all my feelings, and know that everything that happens will eventually pass. These are the reason I “Keep Coming Back.” I now know that it doesn’t matter whether God introduced me to the program or if the program introduced me to my Higher Power. All that is important is that I found Him through Al‑Anon.

By Kathy D., Illinois
The Forum, November 2016