Was my daddy drunk? Was my husband on another weekend binge? Was he at the bar with the boys after work? How was he going to act towards the kids and me when he came home? Later, when the kids grew up, I worried about them. Are my boys out drinking or doing drugs? What’s going to happen to them? Does my daughter think her drinking is social? I hope she reaches out for help. These thoughts ran around in my head constantly.
When things were in total chaos, I pretended to other people that we had the best home life. Half the time, I was in denial myself that my spouse even had a drinking problem. In the early years, and as time went by, I would go into survival mode so I could cope with the abuse and the weekly drinking bouts. Sometimes it was everyday drinking, and sometimes it was binge drinking. Life was unpredictable and I was on edge. I was trying to balance something that could not be balanced.
The line from the Al‑Anon Suggested Welcome, “Our thinking becomes distorted by trying to force solutions, and we become irritable and unreasonable without knowing it” summarized it best. I became a nagging, pleading, crying, enabling, and controlling woman who was out of touch with reality. I was irritable and unreasonable without knowing it—and sometimes knowing it. I thought I had to find a way to get the alcoholics to stop drinking, then Shangri-La would appear, and we would be the family I wanted in childhood.
I’ve heard it said that the person affected by alcoholism is sicker than the alcoholic. That’s debatable because I think we both share a rough road. Each one deals with life and death. In my case, when I was not going into depression, I was developing things like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. My health went so far down that I developed an autoimmune illness that almost took my life.
There is more than one way to die. Alcoholism is one, and living a life of turmoil is another. In time, it will take you down. I no more wanted to live like that, than the alcoholics in my life did. Nothing was intentional. I realize that now but I did not always realize that.
My thinking was really distorted after so many years of trying to love people back to health. Now it’s my time to live life fully, the kind of life I would want for myself and for anyone else I love. The Al‑Anon program has set me free. Life isn’t perfect, but it sure beats the one I lived before Al‑Anon. I got involved in service work for Al‑Anon, and began to see the results of working the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in my everyday life. I am very thankful to all those who listened to my woes and had the patience to let me develop at my own pace. They are a treasure.
I have been working on my program for many years. I feel much happier than I once did and no problem is bigger than my Higher Power. None! I just need to hand my problems to Him, do my part, and have some faith.
When I entered the doors of Al‑Anon, I was dying a slow death inside. The love and understanding I gained in those meeting rooms is real and so very worth the effort—“Keep Coming Back.”
By Marlene M., Nova Scotia
The Forum, June 2013