The day I knew I had to get to an Al‑Anon meeting

My entire life, I thought an alcoholic was just someone who drank too much. Then, at the age of 45, I met my second husband and got a quick education. Less than two years into our marriage, I went through my first (but not last) crisis involving law enforcement. It was also the first time I saw the violent side of alcoholism.

When my husband was arrested and taken to jail, I was shocked and convinced myself it was a one-time thing—a mistake. Surely, this would never happen again. I could, and would, fix everything. I would change him! 

The next few years were filled with one crisis after another. It seemed that the harder I tried to control my husband’s addictions, the worse they got. The truth is, no matter what I did, my husband never changed—but I did. The disease of alcoholism had claimed me as another victim.

I stopped taking phone calls from friends and began to isolate. Eventually, I became so depressed I could no longer work. The thought of taking a shower and getting dressed was overwhelming. Most days, I struggled to get out of bed and rarely left the house. For years, I endured verbal and physical abuse, along with daily threats of violence. I even dismissed as accidental a bullet that barely missed me.

When I finally gave up the battle to change my husband, I also gave up my will to live. I hated my life, but even more tragic was the fact that I hated myself. I truly believed I was a failure because I could not change him. Day after day, I sat in my recliner, begging God to take me. Finally, in desperation, I told God if He wasn’t going to take me, He needed to help me.

Almost overnight, I developed an overwhelming urgency to attend an Al‑Anon meeting. I had attended a couple of Al‑Anon meetings nine years earlier, but had decided the program was not for me. However, this new urgency to find a meeting was undeniable. For the first time in a long time, I found the strength to shower and get dressed. I didn’t question it, I just knew I had to get to an Al‑Anon meeting, and nothing was going to stop me. I now know this was God answering my call for help.

It has been almost a year since that first meeting. I have no doubt in my mind that Al‑Anon saved my life. I quickly learned that I didn’t have to accept unacceptable behavior, and abuse of any type is never acceptable.

I am now divorced. I learned that alcoholism is a disease and that I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it. I no longer feel like a failure. I am learning once again to love myself. Most importantly, I learned that I didn’t have to die from someone else’s disease.

Although still a work in progress, I have already learned how to live “One Day at a Time” and enjoy life—my life!

By Arlene P., Florida
The Forum, June 2014