After living with alcoholism for the first 25 years of my marriage, I found myself dealing with our teenage son’s drinking. My husband had stopped drinking, yet our lives were full of chaos, more and more each day. Fortunately, a court-ordered counselor for our son recognized the need my husband had for A.A. but, more importantly, the need I had for Al‑Anon. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself—one of the toughest and most rewarding.
I was brought up in an alcoholic home where my father drank and my mother was the crazy one who tried to control it all. We had little money and not much food. Dad was the ruler, and mom was his punching bag. We children would run and hide when we he came home drunk. I was the oldest, so responsibility for the other children fell to me at an early age.
I’ve been a grateful member of Al‑Anon for 13 years. My life has certainly improved. I am focusing on myself and doing things for myself. My spouse is drinking less and we are kinder to each other. But life changes quickly!
I recently celebrated my four-year anniversary in Al‑Anon. It has been a miracle in my life.
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 I shared that I was feeling lonely and unloved in my marriage, it was suggested that I needed to love myself first. (I would always try to smile when I heard that, because it helped to suppress my gag reflex.) I absolutely hated what I perceived to be an over-simplified and corny approach to my serious problems. My bigger problem was this: I didn’t know how to love myself.
When I first came to Al‑Anon to help me deal with my boyfriend’s drinking and drug problem, the first “gems” that I heard were to consider not monitoring his drinking, not asking about his drinking, to let his drinking be his business, and to focus on taking care of me instead. This relieved some of my anxiety and overall obsession with his behavior.
I came to Al‑Anon in a state of deep despair. As I began working the program, my husband, who is one of several alcoholics in my life, became angry. He thought I was, once again, trying to change him. As he realized that I was putting no pressure on him to change, he gradually became supportive of my meeting nights. It is because of Al‑Anon that I am still married, although I have a long way to go as far as being happy about it. I am a work in progress.
On December 30, 2005, my little corner of the universe shifted. The phone rang around 8 p.m. I was at home with my youngest child. The two older kids had gone to visit friends. My husband, who was an equine veterinarian, had called several hours earlier to say he had to go on a colic call at a nearby farm. We’d been married close to 20 years, and I knew that a colic call could take a while, so I was not concerned that he was not home yet.