I learned to love my alcoholic son—unconditionally

I grew up in an alcoholic family, where the words “I love you” were never spoken. There were never any outward signs of affection, such as hugging. I loved my family deeply, but the love I knew was unhealthy: I took care of them and felt resentful afterwards for the emptiness I felt inside.

I didn’t experience healthy love until I entered the rooms of Al‑Anon. I learned how to accept being hugged without feeling uncomfortable. I received unconditional love in Al‑Anon; and in the embrace of this love, I was able to fully explore myself. Only after I was able to accept that I was loveable was I able to begin to give love to another person freely, without motive or needing to be loved in return.

In a telephone call with my dad, before I hung up, I said, “I love you, Dad.” He replied by saying, “Thank you.” That was not what I expected him to say. I remember thinking that it was odd. Unfortunately, the disease of alcoholism has also affected him.

When my son was actively drinking and using drugs, I felt distraught when the weekend was coming. He would start a drinking binge on Friday night and would not return home until Sunday.

One weekend while I was visiting my friend, she asked me, “How’s our kid doing?” When I expressed my concerns to her, she replied, “You need to just ‘Let Go and Let God.’” I remember pondering those words, trying to think of how I could put her suggestion into action. I prayed for guidance.

One Friday as my son was getting ready to leave the house for yet another weekend drinking binge, I yelled, “Wait a minute.” I jumped up and hugged him and, in his ear, I said, “I love you and God bless you.” In this act of true surrender, I understood how powerless I was over him and his actions.

I remember how comforted I felt after this act of love, because I knew that if something serious were to happen to him that night, I was able to tell him that I loved him and that I asked God to bless him. I also knew that the last thing he heard from his mother was her saying, “I love you.” I had found a way to put the slogan “Let Go and Let God” into action.

It was only through the grace of God that my son heard these words. He has been sober for the past seven years and is an active member in A.A.

 

By Robin B., Pennsylvania
The Forum, September 2011

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