I found what was best for my son—and for me

There is nothing more heart-wrenching than seeing my child held hostage by an addiction, and being unable to save him. After 15 years in Al‑Anon, I have come to understand that I have to be sane before I can see what is best for my child. I have to accept that I can provide some care for the affected members of my family. But when they are facing the consequences of their actions and have to make life-altering decisions, I need to draw a line in the sand that I will not cross.

When I first went to Al‑Anon, I came in the door to fix the one who had a problem. I stayed because I saw some kind of hope. I came to realize that until I could help myself, I could not be sane enough to know what was right—for the alcoholic, for myself, or for the rest of the family.

I denied that anything was seriously wrong—until I hit rock bottom. I didn’t plan on having an addicted child. I had that moment when I realized that something was wrong and I didn’t want to put up with it anymore. I felt conflicted. I loved him, but I wanted him to go away. I wanted him to leave and let me live in peace.

A trail that leads back to sanity, serenity, and a manageable life is possible. It starts by accepting what appears to be unacceptable. I am powerless over the addiction, but I am not helpless. I have the choice to ask for help. There is a Power greater than my problem, and that Power is there to help—if I ask. When I got tired of the merry-go-round and decided to jump off, I was on my way to begin taking care of myself, so that I could be good, not only for myself but also for the people around me.

Al‑Anon is the lifeboat that has allowed me to stay alive. It helped me get back some sanity, and begin to build a manageable life. I am learning to take care of myself. I am learning to set boundaries. The key is to ask for help. I do not want to broadcast to the world the overwhelming problems at home. But I cannot overcome a problem that I do not accept, and I cannot find the help, wisdom, and support to get to the place of sanity by myself.

As I grow, and find my way back from the edge of the abyss, I learn ways to cope with and even overcome the challenges I face. I am stronger than I think. I can learn the skills, tools, and attitudes that will let me deal with life around me.

I do not have to put up with the lies and the insanity. I can find a way to help myself. And when I have begun to help myself, I will find the love, wisdom, and strength to know what to do about the crazy world around me.

By Robin F., Colorado
The Forum, July 2013