I’m glad I have an alcoholic in my life. My son is the alcoholic. I know that he is a good and kind person, a loving person, and someone who has given me great happiness and joy.
I believed we had the perfect family. My husband was successful, our children all attended private schools, and life was very good. That was about seven years ago, when everything seemed to change overnight. Our family of five was broadsided by a life-changing event, which we would come to know as alcoholism.
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 came to Al‑Anon, I felt as though I had finally found a group of people who really understood my struggle. It was such a relief to know they understood my emotional language, not just intellectually, but experientially as well. I felt heard, and never judged. I was encouraged to begin working the Steps and find a Sponsor. It was a great place to start. I felt I had a strong relationship with my Higher Power, and as I began working Step One, that miracle of getting the guidance I needed came to me one day. My daughter, who desperately wanted to come home to live with me after treatment, simply did not understand why my answer was “no.”
My dear daughter,
You asked me to write a letter stating the impact your addiction to alcohol has had on me. I’ve given a great deal of thought to the question.
I came to Al-Anon starving and humbly begging. I was starving emotionally and begging for “food.” I found food in the program—nourishment for my starving soul. I kept coming back and working the program, because I gained emotional nourishment.
There was a lunar eclipse this cold Saturday morning and I got up at 6 a.m. to see it. I got out of my warm bed, went to the window, and opened the shade. I was disappointed in what I saw: a barely visible, blurry blob of white with a gray smudge and a little red tint on the bottom. Maybe it was just a streetlight in the fog, maybe it was too overcast, or maybe I had forgotten that I am nearly blind without my glasses.
It is an understatement to say that my life had become unmanageable. My 17-year-old son was abusing drugs and alcohol. I spent night after night wondering what I had done wrong, and what should I be doing differently. It seemed like the more I tried to fix and control him, the worse things became. I would listen in on his phone conversations, spy on him, and raid his room looking for drugs and alcohol; yet continue to clean up his mess and mistakes. I took the fall for his actions.
“Mommy, I am sick.” I can recall hearing my eighteen-year-old daughter’s voice reaching out to me as she used to do when she was a little girl untouched by the disease of alcoholism. I can glimpse a time gone by. It is a bright, sunny day and I am running behind her as she darts off toward a playground slide. I can still clearly see her blond curls cascading down her back into rows of ringlets, as she swings her head back toward me, and smiles a genuine smile full of love, sanity, and security.
My mother’s drinking led me to Al‑Anon 22 years ago. I came and went through my eleven-year marriage to an alcoholic. I am back, once again, because of my 19‑year‑old son. Never in my wildest dreams had I expected the path of my life to take this course. Yet here I am, caught in the embrace of this beautiful program that works as hard for me as I am willing to work it.