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.