It doesn't have to be so bad

When I first started coming to Al-Anon I didn't think there were any solutions to the situation at home.  The drinking was so way out of control, our lives had fallen apart to such an extent that I didn't want to see anyone or do anything, it was all too much for me.  I felt I was in a deep dark hole.  My sister-in-law mentioned Al-Anon, and I went to the first meeting I could find.   I knew that I had tried everything else to get the alcoholic to stop drinking, and if this didn't work there were no other answers.

Luckily it did work.  But not in the way I expected.  I soon found out that I didn't cause the drinking (that was a surprise!), that I couldn't control it (that was NOT a surprise.  I already knew that.  I had been trying to control it for years) ....  and that I couldn't cure it.  Well, I thought I should be able to cure it, because I was responsible for everything and up to now had managed to hold everything together, at great emotional and physical cost to myself.  So it was a great relief to be able to let go of the burden, even if just for an hour or two at a meeting.

What blew me away was the idea that I had a life of my own, and that I was encouraged to find it again, to live it again, and gently, slowly and repeatedly put down the burden of carrying another grown-up adult on my shoulders. 

However, there was a challenge -  the challenge to find myself, to look after myself and to heal myself.  Luckily I didn't have to do it alone.  There was a whole group of people who knew how I felt, and had been through the same experiences themselves.  As it says on p 224 of 'Hope for Today' "The healing is in the hearing".  "It's a simple yet weighty truth in Al-Anon.  I hear myself in others' experiences and find myself in our shared emotions.  In learning to feel compassion and acceptance for my fellow members, I learn to feel the same for myself."  Nohting can take the place of personally witnessing the healing, change and growth of other Al-Anon members. And of course there is the full Al-Anon program which unfolded gradually before my eyes.

At meetings, I learn about the tools that have worked for others.  Having a problem drinker in my life is not the end.  It's the beginning of huge personal growth.  This life skills programme has worked for me in ways that I never expected.  I can say with confidence now that it doesn't have to be so bad.  It can in fact be a good life even if the alcoholic is still drinking.  And sometimes our own recovery grants the space for the alcoholic to find their own solutions too.  It did in my case. 

Joan P