For the most part, we attend our respective meetings and socialize with our respective friends, but we do very little together. I have refused to travel with my alcoholic husband because I was not able to tolerate his abusive language.
We are planning a week-long trip together this coming summer to celebrate my father’s 90th birthday, so I decided to begin with short trips, to practice detachment. We headed to a town that was about an 80-minute drive from home, to do some antique shopping.
For the first 15 minutes in the car, I noticed that my husband was driving 10 miles under the speed limit, fidgeting nervously, and making critical remarks about other drivers. I found myself staring at the speedometer and thinking, “I’ll be a nervous wreck if I don’t stop focusing on him!”
I forced myself to watch the scenery, and began to talk briefly about pleasant things, allowing silences, if he wanted to respond. If he didn’t respond, I mentally quoted a slogan or recalled a bit of a Step or Tradition and allowed my mind to quiet. I ran through some repetitions of the Serenity Prayer, and found that I was relaxing, feeling connected to my Higher Power and so was my husband. He even joined in with some humorous conversation, which was rare for him.
When we got to our destination, we walked around and looked. I talked to some of the antique dealers about their merchandise. At first, my husband waited outside—disinterested. However, when I took time to listen to his recollections about an old toy or car, he began to engage in the spirit of the day, maybe finding a treasure.
The town was dotted with small cafes and diners; we stopped at one and ordered lunch. When the food came to our table, it was the wrong order. “Oh, boy! Here it comes,” I thought. But because of the relaxed atmosphere and nice time we were having, my husband didn’t fly into a rage. He suggested that if we tried the food we had been served; we might like it! On the drive home, he was even more talkative about the town, the food, and what a great day we had.
Before Al‑Anon, a day like this was impossible. I felt I had to monitor my husband’s driving, make sure he went the right speed, turned at the right place, etc.—ad nauseam. I got upset if we didn’t have conversation. I got upset if we did have conversation that was not pleasant. I had so many rules in my mind about what constituted a “good time” that a good time was impossible.
I’ve thanked my husband many times for the lovely day we had, and he just about burst with happiness. I suspect that, over the years, he has wanted to give me many lovely days—but couldn’t, because I wouldn’t let him. I’m going to keep practicing detachment, stay in my own hula hoop, and maybe—just maybe—we can have a nice vacation together this summer. This is why I keep coming back to meetings—you all teaching me how to work this wonderful program. Thank you. I have my treasure.
By Paula C., Florida
The Forum, August 2011
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