“He is not living his life for me,” I thought as I shuffled into the cold kitchen. It was three o’clock in the morning. I was in search of an Al-Anon daily reader. My son, my only child and someone I loved more than anyone, had been arrested, spent the night in jail, and was in more trouble than I ever imagined possible.
Early in Al-Anon, one of the feelings I struggled with was anger. So many times in my childhood home, I felt angry but acted happy or pleased because the unwritten rule for the children of the family was, “Do not show anger.” For the drinking parents, anger was permissible to express loudly, and on occasion with the help of a brush or belt.
“Please press One if you will accept a collect call from the … county prison.”
My wife and I had been at friends’ that evening. We got home at about midnight and found the message on our answering machine. We listened to it three times without saying a word. The message summarized the relationship we had with our son over the past two years.
I felt so sad when my son called from jail. He had been sober for a whole year when he and his girlfriend had a verbal argument and she called the cops. He was arrested and sent to jail. Consequently, he lost his job and his apartment.
My beautiful son had successfully entered the honors college in our state, and had never given me any cause for concern. But this new college-life brought changes, including drinking. The downward spiral led to three separate suicide attempts.
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.
Being the parent of two children with addiction issues is heart wrenching. Knowing where to turn for help can be daunting. However, since becoming involved with Al‑Anon, my life has become more manageable, my relationships with my children and my spouse are improving, and I’m happier!
My son joined us for lasagna on Christmas day. I’ve only seen him four times in three months, and each time I’ve experienced a joy that I never thought could be associated with my son.
I attended occasional Al‑Anon meetings through the years, but what brought me to Al‑Anon with a willingness to surrender was the realization that, despite several years in another Twelve Step program, I was again hopeless, helpless, and my life was out of control.
My son’s addiction took a toll on our family. The pain and chaos caused by his illness had trans-formed our family life into a screaming, blaming, shaming, and guilt-ridden nightmare. We were living in a feuding daytime talk show. I had started out playing the loving, concerned, and supportive role but, all of a sudden, that role turned into that of the supporting culprit.