Sunday, December 2, 2007

I Tried Something New at Al-Anon

This week I made a decision. It was simple.

I would not
complain today at

I noticed that the last few times I came out of Al-Anon feeling sorta good. But later I would regret something I said, or how much I said, or how I said it.

I looked back and said "What a sorry person I am." I was complaining and frankly, bitching. While I have had it tough, others needed my inspiration. Today, I said, I would try something different.

My decision was "To shut up."

As the meeting progressed, I listened to people beat themselves up. I listened to the regret. I listened to the sorrow. It was heart wrenching to listen to these people - who are so genuine - kill themselves with their thoughts.

Today, I would not join in. Today I would "shut up." Do you know where this is going?

Yep. I was not quiet. But today, then, I would show some leadership and try to help. Today we talked about one of the slogans; "Progress, not perfection."

We as relatives of alcoholics and addicts try to make order out of the chaos. The disease is about disorder, about turbulence, about not being dependable and reliable. The disease takes a nice person and makes them erratic, irresponsible and emotional. It eradicates all chances of a relationship and pleasantness. And worst, the alcoholic, cannot help it. The disease has taken hold of their mind. It has in some ways made them "possessed."

This last point - is totally my opinion. What is not my opinion is the following: There is one camp that believes alcohol is a "character defect." The other camp believes it is a disease.

The two camps are divided. We as members of the "other side" start off thinking it is a character flaw. We ask simple questions of the alcoholic like;

  • How come you can't stop drinking?

  • Don't you know what you are doing to yourself?

  • Don't you see what you are doing to others?

And the list goes on. Sooner or later our frustration leads to arguments. Arguments lead to more frustration. More frustration leads to chaos in the family - worst off - it affects the children. They get affliction of over dependence too, the acting out for attention, and their striving for perfectionism.

I am thinking I am ranting now. But I hope you see what I am talking about in your own world. My advice here, and it is difficult, is to strive for understanding and a "letting go" of things that are out of your control.

The first step to letting go is remember alcoholism is not a character defect - it is a disease. And if you remember that this disease is cunning, like the devil himself, it does not want to reveal itself to you or others, especially to the alcoholic. It is cunning like nothing else. It makes a perfectly good and honest person lie and deceive. It will take deception to a level and art form you have never seen or could fathom.

One of the deceptions is it makes you think you are going crazy - as the spouse. It causes you to doubt yourself. It makes you think you are crazy and therefore, you want to find the evidence of the drinking too much by finding bottles, cans and receipts. (I Know - I been there - got the t-shirt factory). It makes the alcoholic tell others you are nuts. Which adds fuel to the fire and sets you up in a spiral to try and prove you are right and not crazy.

Step 1 - STOP. You no longer have to prove you are right or that your spouse of loved one is drinking or has a problem. Everyone of us has been there. You may find solace in this. But your job is to STOP. Or you become addicted to Proving Yourself. It becomes your obsession. This becomes your illness.

Step 2 -STOP. You no longer have to strive for perfection. You don't have to have everything PERFECT.

May be this will help. Back to the Al-Anon meeting I mentioned above. I listened to the people who are so nice trying to understand themselves. I decided to help or try to. I told them of a verse in a book the said essentially this:


Everyone is made PERFECT, if you believe in a higher power. He or she makes no junk. There you and I and everyone else is perfect. What we do, may not always be perfect. When you reflect on this, it may give you comfort and peace. And the fact, that maybe,

Just maybe, Perfection is, not doing things perfectly.

Step 3 - Progress. In the meeting - someone, a lot of someones, said, they were not progressing. That they had to come back and redo a certain step in Al-Anon (one of the 12 Steps). They felt (all) bad. I said, "Who says, 'Progress is going forward?' What if progress means we have to go backwards sometimes? What if progress comes down to relearning a step we covered before and relearning it from the new state of mind we have today which is at a higher level than we had several months ago?

Who says 'Progress means going

I hope you find peace of mind. I have come across a few beautiful blogs/websites which I shall post on the side of this blog.


1 comment:

Jen said...

Glad to find your blog. I had toyed with the idea of blogging about my experiences, but have ended up keeping mine 'fun.' It's hard to find a good al-anon meeting where I live, so I'll be reading!
Nice to 'meet' you!