Friday, January 18, 2008

Al-Anon Meeting: Detachment

This Weekend's Meeting is on: Detachment
If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long Al-Anon Meeting. It ends Sunday 1/20/08 at 6PM.

A Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link above (This Weekend's Meeting is: On Detachment) or the Title: Al-Anon Weekend Meeting or here (click here) in order to get a better view.

The way Al-Anon Meetings start is someone reads from one of the Al-Anon books, something that was useful or something they used or had meaning to them and they add their feelings or situation. Since the meeting's subject is on "Detachment" I will provide the initial reading just to get the meeting started.

Here's what typically happens: We can comment on what is written below, we can type in a passage from another Al-Anon book, we can type in an experience, a question, or anything else on the topic "Detachment." Or, since someone may be experiencing a difficult time on some other area, or want guidance, you can bring up other questions, points, etc.

There is no "wrong" way to do this. So peace, and let go.

Let's start:
Hello. My Name is Joe. My Wife is my Qualifier. I believe she has been drinking for some time, probably over 20 years. But this is about us.

I still struggle with "detachment." In the beginning it was really hard to detach. I wanted to talk the other person (my wife) into sobering up. I would get angry when she was drinking, I would want to read her the "riot act," she would do something I did not "approve of " or disagreed with, and I would judge her with a look or a word of disapproval.

I would get myself worked up, the dog would slink off to the other room, and I am sure my daughter would hear us. I was "working myself into a lather." So I detached. I detached by giving her the old silent treatment. I then became isolated.

Then I heard "detach with love" at an Al-Anon Meeting. "How preposterous," I thought. And then, I started to apply it.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Let me read from the book,"Courage to Change" . . .
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"What does another person's mood, tone of voice, state of inebriation have to do with my course of action? Nothing, unless I decide otherwise.

For example, I have learned that arguing with someone who is intoxicated is like beating my head against a brick wall. Yet, until recently, I would always dive right into the arguments, because that was what the other person seemed to want. In Al-Anon I discovered that I don't have to react just because I have been provoked, and that I don't have to take harsh words to heart. I can remember that they are coming from someone who may be in pain, and try to show a little compassion. I certainly don't have to allow them to provoke me into doing anything I don't want to do.

Today's Reminder
Detachment with love means that I stop depending upon what others do, say, or feel to determine my own well-being or to make my decisions.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now I open it up for comments. Thank you.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought detachment was to just walk away. I would leave the room or I would give him the silent treatment as revenge. Now I see my children doing the same thing to him. I wish I could have not replied with anger to his sudden demands and outbursts

nanceelee said...

Thank you for sharing, Joe.

Hi, my name is Nancy and my dad was an alcoholic. He committed suicide when I was 24, I'm 50 now. :-) Since I was a small child he was verbally loud and abusive when intoxicated, occasionally physically abusive. He was living in his car with no contact with us before he died.

As an adult, I have not lived with an alcoholic spouse. My adult brothers should be considered alcoholics, one is sober. My mom was the "victim" as we grew up and now is quick to judge harshly and is also very demanding that things are her way.

Two of my brothers are estranged after family business problems drove them apart. My mom takes one brother's side. I try to stay neutral and have relationships with each brother. These people cannot be invited to the same family functions. At this time, after asking my mom repeatedly to not put me in the middle, she does not speak to me.

I know that I have a large part in the isolation, as the stress was literally killing me. I don't know a lot about loving detachment, as I have it all wrapped up in a "protected isolation" right now. I look forward to anyone's advice, I want to try to open the door again, but am very afraid of being hurt over and over again.

Thank you for listening, I look forward to reading everyone's posts, and commenting throughout the weekend..

dee said...

Hi i'm dee and i'm a grateful member of alanon!

Detachment for me has so many levels. I can detach with love from my husband by not taking on the crap from his side of the street, by not taking personally the ugly things he says to or about me. I can walk away when things get too intense for me as long as I do it in a loving way. I can remind him that what he is saying about someone else is none of MY business. I can say to him that something that has not happened yet is not something that is necessary for me to worry about/think about right now.

Part of what I need to remember is that I am not perfect. I will not do all of these things perfectly all the time. From time to time I will probably slip up and react in a way that is damaging for me or someone else. I must always remember that my higher power loves me and wants what is best for me and loves me because of my faults.

When I am unable to detach I will often call my sponsor or an alanon friend. They can detach from the situation even when I am unable to. I just hold on to them for their support.

Thanks for starting this up and allowing us all the space to share!

nanceelee said...

Thank you for sharing Dee.

You are right, none of us are perfect, and we are loved by our HP just as we are.

I meant to share this link—I have been studying this PDF today titled "How Detachment from an Addicted Person can be Loving for All", perhaps you all have seen this.

http://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/press/article_PDF/Wayland_Myers/Addiction_Codependency_WMyers.pdf

Peace.

Ashley said...

Thank you Joe for the meeting and topic. :) Thank you anonymous, Nanceelee and Dee for sharing.

My name is Ashley, and my husband is an alcoholic. He's been through treatment programs twice in the ten years we've been together - both times he's relapsed within 2 months. Detachment is something I've struggled with quite a bit. Like Joe, I started detaching by ignoring. Within a few months of my "detaching", my husband and I were just existing in the same household - more like roommates than spouses and parents. It wasn't fun.

During my struggles with the concept of detaching with love, I've turned quite often to the Courage to Change book. I've done all of the readings on detachment which have helped tremendously. I've underlined several phrases which I would like to share here.

"When I sense that a situation is dangerous to my mental or spiritual well-being, I can put extra distance between myself and the situation." Page 12 (Jan 12th)

"Keeping in mind that when I am dealing with other human beings, I am dealing with children of God." Page 22, Jan 22nd.

"I often take on their negative frame of mind." Page 43, Feb 12th.

As Joe said "arguing with someone who is intoxicated is like beating my head against a brick wall." Page 72, March 12th.

I can see something loveable in others, "even those who suffer from an unlovable disease." page 100, April 9th.

This one is very important for me to remember. "My well-being cannot depend upon whether or not the alcoholic drinks." page 180, June 28th.

All of these mean something, strike some chord in me. The more I read them, the more comfort I take from them.

Since I started attending Al-anon, it's been easier for me to not have a physical reaction when I see him drinking. I don't tense up, have a knot in my stomach, or get angry for no reason other than he has a drink to his lips anymore. But it's a constant struggle with me. If I don't read and express myself at meetings and online almost daily, I revert back to that sick, angry feeling. I'm slowly getting better, little by little, one day at a time -- and I'm happy with that.

Joe said...

I have learned to bite my tongue when I want to say something. I have also learned to stay up and above the lure of the fray. It used to be easy for me to get sucked into the vortex and the alcohlic wrestling match. It was like an "obsession" for me. I have gotten better by not allowing my defensive emotions to take over. I have to think hard, mentally step back and away, as if I am an observer. In some cases, I actually do physically move out of the room. Both these help.

I try to remember the compassion and that this little person - almost a child - in some ways, is sick. Then I can decide when, where and how or even if I need to address the situation or not.

When I start doing this (above) I am in control. I have also seen a noticable difference in how my spouse talks to me and acts toward me when I step away from this dance. Now it is hard when children are involved. Because they get sucked into it and are seduced by it. I am trying to learn how to handle this one area and if anyone has suggestions that worked that would be great.

Lorraine said...

WOW...thank you all for sharing. The things you mentioned...like getting angry...a knot in your stomach...etc., these are some of the things I feel every time my husband binges...and have felt over the past 20 years. I was praying to find a way to change the dance...I need to find this new way of handling my husbands drinking. I too am a roommate to my husband because I am so angry at his drinking. The pain it causes me is such a deep river. I need to learn more about this healthy detachment. I have detached in the past by shutting down...way way down. You are right...it isn't fun. I need to buy that book..Courage to change. Thank you all for your words of encouragment...and your life lessons.

nanceelee said...

Welcome, Lorraine--it's good to see you here!

Joe—I know you grew up in an alcoholic household also, and probably know these things, but this is what I would have wanted from my family, mom or dad. You have taken the step to be a member of Al-Anon, which is huge for your daughter. Just as you can't change your spouse, you can't change things for her. (Unless, of course, there are real safety issues, then removal from the situation is of primary concern.) However, recognizing it as an issue is the first step in helping to make things the best they can be for her.

I know you travel, from reading your blog, and I know you worry about things when you're gone, totally understandable. It would be natural to question her when you are back home...did things go well, was mom ok...you know the deal. I would say walk the line between keeping her safe and keeping her from being in the middle as much as possible. Recognizing that she is a part of these dynamics as you have already puts you on the right track. Just with what you write it is obvious that you care, and that's what she needs, to know you care. She will always need to know this, even as an adult. I like what you wrote about the visit you had with your mom, and the advice she gave to you. I would, first, tell her that you will always do your best to care for her, will always love her, will always be proud of her. Then, with her self esteem in place, you can teach her that the addiction problems within the family were NEVER her fault, but she must be strong and be the great little person that she is, despite the challenge that she must live with. You already recognize the issues, putting you farther ahead than most parents dealing with this. In a perfect world this is easy to type, we must do the best we can, a day at a time.

If someone had sat me down at any point growing up and told me that, despite my family challenges that I was ok, a good person, and someone to be proud of, I would have remembered that to this day, and it would have helped me more than I can say.

Blessings and Peace.

Joe said...

Hi - I am Joe (again) and Good MORNING!
I am with you Nanceelee. I will not put my daughter in the middle. Never. I don't ask her about her mom, because I figure the worst thing is to make her the codependent one, checking mom and worrying.

My daughter has told me she worries about mom's drinking and wish she would stop. I don't want this to be an obsession with her. This is what I worry about now. Before it was getting in the car with mom.

The child to me - and I am sure for all of us - is the most sacred thing. Our concern for their mental well-being and physical well being is paramount.

I have reached out to one of our neighbors and she knows about the drinking - and I can send my daughter there.

Children - my child - for me at least - is why detachment is so important. Because if our children see us reacting and becoming part of the chaos thru arguing and bickering, the child sees this so often that the child thinks this is normal after awhile. I don't want these images programmed into my daughter's subconscious and have it play out later in her life.

In fact, it becomes normal for us too - and we should know better.

I heard my wife and daughter bickering about who knew and who didn't know about an event; wife says - "I told you about it" Daughter says - "No mommy you didn't, I was not there then ..." This was going on for several minutes until I intervened to stop it. I had to think about how to enter it in order not to create more chaos. I could see this mini tornado brewing... I am glad I was home at the time. It was not the "normal" daughter - mother argument of growing up. It was more of "I was right." It was two children arguing at the time. Confusing enough for me. It must be confusing for my daughter.

Detachment is a useful tool, I think we have to balance this out though when it comes to the safety of our children and not be detached when it comes to them.

I know this may seem confusing. It should, because sometimes I am confused and not sure when to use certain tools and when to apply others.

But I can say - I am becoming better and less confused because of Al-Anon and reading literature and of course writing this!

Thanks (sorry for the long winded comment!)

Ashley said...

Hi Lorraine! Glad you could make it this weekend.

You can but the Courage to Change book at an Al-anon meeting (usually, unless they're out and waiting for a new book order), or you can go to their website and order one. www.alanon.org - click on your language (most likely english), click on publications & online shop. Once you get to that page, click on the publications tab at the top and scroll through the options available - there are a ton of books, but I highly recommend Courage to Change. There's also another book called How Al-anon works. I got this one a few weeks ago and it's very good as well.

Joe & Nancy, I worry about the kids too. I didn't grow up in an alcoholic home, which was a blessing, but hearing from adult children of alcoholics at my meetings and online, make me worry about my kids. The good news is I'm getting help now when they're still young (6 and 7). There's been such a difference in our house since I started attending al-anon that I know it's good for them as well.

I've never really had to worry about my husband driving my children because he doesn't have a license (actually hasn't in over 10 years). He could have gotten a license back a few years ago, but I told him I wouldn't write a recommendation letter for him until he stopped drinking and had some sober time behind him. As much as I hate being the only driver (having to run everyone everywhere all the time), it's not worth it to me if he goes out and injures or kills someone because he's drinking.

I do travel a lot though - have been out of town since Wednesday night, back home tonight, but then gone again next Friday/Saturday/Sunday. I call home every night to check on things, but like Joe, I don't quiz the kids. I do talk to my husband though. We talk openly about his drinking. It used to involve a lot of accusation and guilt, but I'm learning to talk without all of the negativity, which means he opens up more.

I hope everyone has a great day!

Lorraine said...

Good Morning..Just recently...my two sons...ages 13 and 14 1/2 have voiced their concerns about their dads drinking. I should say "fears" about their dads drinking. I have always been very open about it...I have allowed them to ask me questions...and voice their disappointments. My husband and I had a "plan" designed by our counselor (marriage) that we both agreed to. It fell apart the first night we were away. I was able to recover from that episode..and I told my spouse that if he continued his behavior that I was taken the boys and going home (about a 7 hour drive). He was "good" the next night...but the night before we left he got drunk again. My youngest son came running up to me and asked me if I could get dad to stop drinking because he was embarrassing him. My older son told me he was ready to speak to our counselor in regard to his dads drinking. My boys both got cold feet. I told them that it was okay...and that someday they would be able to share their hearts. At the counselor meeting..(this past Monday) the counselor told my husband that even though I (Lorraine) have a different perspective (Can I tell you how much I hate that definition???) on my husbands drinking...it is my HUSBANDS perspective that is destroying our marriage and damaging our boys. He instructed us to come home and open up this conversation to our boys. (Up until that point..it was only discussed between myself and my sons).
My biggest fear...is that in the past...I have not been able to deal with the pain, disappointment, abandonment, rejection that I feel from my husbands drinking...How am I supposed to protect my sons from this very thing?
My older son told my husband..."Actions speak louder than words"...and he also told him "we heard this before". (About 4 years ago...I left my husband for a few days away to regroup...and he promised only 3 beers...My sons knew the arrangement) I was very proud of him for finding his voice...and the courage to share his concerns.

I can't tell you how it will go...I can guess...but I need to learn this detachment technique so I can pass it on to my sons.

Let me say...and I know I have gone on too long already...but just the few of you who "welcomed" me...made me cry. It is so silly...I can't explain it. (I am crying again!! hahaha!!) I need your words...even if it isn't to me...it is about you or someone else...they give me hope. I was thinking about how God spoke the world into existence...how there was nothing...and he created with a spoken word. I was also thinking about the scripture that says, that the tongue is the smallest member but very powerful (paraphrased) This is why it is good to speak good things...to encourage one another...to push one another on to be who they are called to be, not who their qualfier has made them to be.

Wow..I had better stop now...
sorry...really sorry I took up so much space!!

nanceelee said...

Hello everyone, Happy Saturday!

It's great to read all your posts, very helpful to me. I hope I didn't spin the meeting toward children too much, thank you everyone for listening.

It sounds like all of you are doing great things for your kids, that's very good for them. The "I was right" argument you posted about, Joe, is a key issue for me. I have danced this dance with my mom for so many years, I want us all to be able to be done. It's time for me to get rid of my ego and write a loving letter to her, and accept lovingly how she chooses to accept it. I don't need to be right anymore, I just want to be me, and let others be who they choose to be.

I have to say that I learn so much from each of your experiences, that is one of the best things I find about Al-Anon. No matter who is sharing, their story and recovery helps me along the way with my own.

Lorraine--it is so good to hear your voice, I'm glad you joined us. It's sounds like you have done some good things for yourself and your family already. I hope you find, like I did, that Al-Anon is a most accepting and loving place to find support.

Thank you Anonymous, Dee, Ashley, Joe, Lorraine and everyone else who may be joining us for listening.

Blessings and Peace.

Joe said...

I just came back from my Saturday Al-Anon meeting. Good meeting. A lot of newcomers. Something about newcomers makes the meeting sort of magic. We talk different. We talk about what we were like, and what we were powerless over and could not control.

When I heard of detachment, it was impossible for me to conceive. Then I learned just to step back and not get emotionally entangled. I have also learned about boundaries, and not to threaten, which I was doing when I did not detach. My words, my threats were meaningless - because I would make emotionally and therefore not mean it. Detachment has allowed me to think more clearly about what I want to say later. And then set the boundary; If this happens then I will do this:X. And I know that I have to carry X out.

If I detach, I have learned that my daughter can stay out of it and not be dragged in to see and chaos - because my reaction to my wife's drinking only exacerbates the situation.

When my father would drink we would be embarrassed about going to baseball (little league) games. He would rant and drink out of a thermos and stagger around.

If I could change that situation, or if it was happening now, I would have a back-up plan, to get us boys to the game without dad. Let him sit home and whatever. Not our worry.

Lorraine - I keep saying to myself: I didn't cause it; I cannot cure it; and I cannot change it.

I also tell my daughter that it is a disease and it is something that she cannot "fix" ... and that mom has to fix it herself.

To all - these are great inspirational posts. We can cry. It is OK to grieve as the counselor told a woman in our family group session last week. Grieving is good and is one of a series first steps to recovery. I believe with time and practice we are all going to alright.

You all are great and wonderful people and are so very smart. Do not allow yourselves to beat yourself up. We are all doing the best we can with what we have!

nanceelee said...

Soooo...I wrote to my mom.

Thank you everyone for getting me to a place where I could do this lovingly, without an agenda.

My sponsor read the letter before I sent it, it's always a good thing for me to lean on her support and wisdom, her editing.

Peace.

dee said...

Good evening every one. Thanks for all of the wonderful sharing!

I spent yesterday evening with the most amazing group of people. I think it may help out with some of the concerns that you all have been sharing about your children.

I was with my alateen group last night. Both of the groups I work with are actually alakids but I think for the sake of simplicity the WSC has gone to calling all of the groups alateen. As a general rule as long as the kids can sit still and participate in what the other kids in the room think is acceptable then they are welcome no matter the age!

When I talk with these guys it is amazing to me how far they have come since beginning with the group.

Any new comer to our group gets an alateen Newcomer pack and an alateen One Day at a Time. Sometimes I use this book to chair because of the beautiful simplicity of it. If you don't have alateen available to you you can also get this book online. My seven year old reads it and it is a valuable parenting tool for me.

THe other thing I wanted to mention is that there is a pamphlet called What Do I Do For the Children that is invaluable to households with children and the book THE DILEMMA OF THE ALCOHOLIC MARRIAGE. There is alot of healing and wisdom in both of these. And both speak of detachment!

I am really enjoying the meeting. Thanks for getting us started Joe!

Ashley said...

Well, I'm home now - harrowing drive in the snow, but I made it yay! I've caught up on the posts from today, and want to thank all of you for sharing!

Lorraine - one of the absolute best things about al-anon, is being around people who know exactly what you're going through, accept you exactly the way you are, and don't judge. Many times that realization is a huge emotional release. I can't even count how many people have cried (myself included) at meetings. It's a good thing! :)

So on to detachment. I did ask my husband how things went this week, and I was referring to the drinking. He said he did good, that he didn't drink until 4:00pm today when he knew I was on the way home and would be here shortly. That's a good step for us. Being able to have a calm conversation and have him not drink for the three days I was gone. We also talked a little bit about the treatment center he went to in September (he brought it up). I asked him if he wanted to go back (while keeping my fingers crossed and pleading in my mind). He thought about it for a few minutes and said "maybe". Step in the right direction.

I've realized for me that detachment isn't ignoring the problem, but addressing it without the anger and guilt and pressure and resentment that I was putting on him. Before, if I had come home and found out he was drinking I would have been short tempered, snippy, rude, angry, just generally a witch to be around. Even if he didn't actually do anything other than put a drink to his lips. Now I can sit and smile legitimately (not a fake smile), and actually be happy to be home.... that hasn't happened in a long time!


Nanceelee - I'm so glad you were able to write that letter. You must feel so good right now. I hope it goes over well with your mom, but even if it doesn't, I'm impressed! :)

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I keep going back to the posts you have all written, to remember what I want to say. Joe, you touched on something that I realized over Christmas when you wrote about your dad at baseball games and that if you had to deal with that now, you would make arrangements to go without him. I realized that my husband doesn't have to go everywhere I go. He's not the center of the universe, and I can have a life separate from "us". When I went to my parents house with the kids over Christmas, he was welcome to come, but if he didn't want to, it was no big deal. I realized that most of my disappointments in life came from expectations that weren't met. So rather than change him, I changed my expectations. I'm not sure how that relates or if that will help anyone, but it sure has made a difference in me the last few months.

Joe said...

I really like what was said here over the past 2 days. I have learned a lot - things I thought I knew but didn't.

One quick question; about Alateen. I hesitate to have my 10 year old in a meeting, because I am "afraid" to have her exposed to more than she is exposed to at home. I am afraid of making the drinking at home something she would focus on if she went to an Alateen Meeting for an hour. I wonder if she is too young at 10. And I don't know if there is adult supervision there, to monitor the talk of the older children. I am just want to keep her innocent - and not make a wound that is deeper by having her "focus" her energy on the problem, and therefore make it bigger.

I will definately read the literature you pointed to Dee.

Ashly - we have all been there with the anger, and conversation that would inspire the world to change, but was like water off a duck's back to the alcoholic. It sounds like you are detaching, and getting better at it every day.

Thank you all...

Joe said...

By the way - It appears we had over 300 visits since Friday morning. I hope this was good for people who have not expressed there opinions yet.

Join us if you can.

Anonymous said...

This was a good reference. Can y'all psot more reference material from some of the literature. We have been experiecing a difficult time at home.

Ashley said...

I don't know if this will help or not, but one of the slogans I keep trying to remember is "live and let live". It helps a lot when thinking about detachment. From the "How Al-Anon Works: for families and friends of Alcoholics" book,

"In dealing with alcoholism, many of us focus most intently upon the latter part of the slogan, the "let live" part. Having felt so overly responsible for other people's choices and actions, it can be a great struggle to grant others the dignity to make decisions for themselves and allow them to deal with the results. We use this reminder to get off their backs and "let" them live. ...The people in our lives benefit because they are finally receiving the respect that is every person's due." (emphasis on dignity is my own)

There are many other phrases and slogans that help. Let Go & Let God, One Day at a Time, Let It Begin With Me, How Important Is It?, Just for Today, Easy Does it, Keep it Simple, etc.... but "Live and Let Live" strikes a chord in me.

Joe said...

Here are some guidelines, that I like, that come from Courage to Change. I like what Ashley wrote too. I hope these help;

1. The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them."
2. With Al-Anon meetings, you can feel the love and begin to love yourself, and be consistently lovable.
3.If I am constantly intervening to protect them from painful experiences, I also do them a great disservice. Sometimes it is more loving to allow someone to experience the natural consequences of their actions, even when it is painful for both of us.
4. My well-being cannot be dependent on whether the alcoholic drinks or not.
5. Detachment is to allow what other own be theirs and what I own be mine.
6. I can identify without needing to feel their pain.
and last my favorite, which helps me visualize detachment;
7.Early one morning I stopped to watch a colony of bees. A little intimidated by the frenzied motion and intense buzzing, I reminded myself that if I didn't poke my nose into their their hive, I wouldn't get stung. If I chose to maintain a safe distance from a dangerous situation, I would be fine. Sometimes this means distance physically or emotionally. I may leave the room to end the conversation. Or I put spiritual space between myslef and the other person's behavior. I can refuse to pariticpate in the argument and step back and away from the insanity rather than diving right into it. Detachment is a loving GIFT TO GIVE TO MYSELF and to others.
Joe

Leslie said...

Hi- I know that it's past 6 on Sunday night but I am struggling with my husband who is an alcoholic. He is attempting to become sober but it has been a long hard battle. I am seriously considering going to Al-Anon this week for the first time, but my question is, will my going to Al-Anon help my husband the alcoholic or will it just help me? My ultimate goal is to help him become sober and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get him there. So if Al-Anon will help then I'll go. Have any of your spouses/friends/relatives gotten sober while you've attended Al-Anon?

Ashley said...

Hi Leslie,
I'm not really sure how to answer that.... but I will say this, I tried going to Al-Anon about 4 years ago the first time my husband went into treatment. I only went a few times because it didn't seem like I was getting anything that would help my husband. One of my friends in the group said the same thing when she first went. She was looking for a magic word that would make her spouse sober and when she didn't get that, she didn't go back.

Since I started going again last fall, I've realized that helping myself is helping him. Some members will say something along the lines of "leading by example". Once we get our own lives in order it becomes easier to allow the alcoholic to get their own life in order. There are many people in my home group who have spouses in recovery, some with 10-15 years of sobriety. There are also many who have active drinking in their lives. I can't say if Al-Anon helped their spouses or not, but I can say with absolute certainty that Al-Anon has helped them.

If you get nothing else out of the meeting, you will start to learn more about the twelve steps and be around people who understand what you're going through.

Joe said...

Leslie - what Ashley said I believe - is accurate. What I can tell you is this: You have to get better no matter what your husband does. I mean get better is: your sanity and health. We all feel th effects of alcoholism. It makes us feel "Worthless" and "tired" and "confused" among other feelings.

This happens over time, and it is so gradual we don't notice it. What is abnormal now becomes our normal. If we took a snapshot ofthe future and the a sanpsot of the way life was, you would be surprised at how you were and how you are. You - in fact would say probably, "I would never allow that to happen." But because of the gradual changes - we change subtley and over time - the change become drastic.

I have found that going to Al-Anon allows me and others I have met there, understand this fact of change consciously or unconsciously.

Al-Anon allows us to get sanity back after a few months. Then and this is important YOU react and respond differently toward the alcoholic. The alcoholic sees that there are changes because of your changes (you don't get mad, you stop taking care of him (he is not a child but will act that way to be taken care of) and he HAS to change.) So often we do for the alcoholic what he or she has to do for themselves (parents do this too).

Even if he does not get better, you now have the sanity to where you decide - you decide sanely - whether you want to stay in this environment (live the rest of your life this way).

Also - last and this is important, you attract new people, events and circumstances into your life that will help you as well.

I hope this helps

Joe

Joe said...

One more thing Ashley. You are a good person. You are in a delemma. You help because you care. You help and it may hurt because there may not be the appreciation of what you are going through. You want to fix the person.

Unfortunately, you cannot fix it. And you did not cause it.

Your attempts to fix something you think you can, but cannot drive you batty.

You are a good person. When you stop and seek help, from Al-Anon or a therapist who KNOWS the alcoholic family environment, you begin to have a more clearer (bad English I know) view.

We are all there - have been there where you are . . . You are not alone . . .

Joe

kadenate's mom said...

Wow...I am overwhelmed with relief - is that possible? Why not - it is better than being ovewhelmed by sorrow and confusion! I have finally admitted to myself that my husband is an alcoholic. We have been separated for over a year, and I have spent what seems like an eternity trying to figure out what 'his problem is'...he lies and hides his drinking. Anyway...I can relate to all of you, and when I read Joe's posts, I feel as though I'm looking in a mirror. Listening to my 7 yr old son and his dad argue like two children...and all of the 'mediating' that I have done over all of the years..so sad. I feel relief because the issue finally has a name, which means I can finally get help for my two little boys and myself. My husband has been to two AA meetings..but I have a very guarded heart at this point. Thank you all for sharing, and Joe for your hosting. I will be visiting regularly as I am longing for sanity! Blessings!

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Anonymous said...

You need to find an all anon group. The support and help is fantastic. If you do stick with it for a few weeks to get the understanding you need.

USV said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
USV said...

Yes Joe it works this way only ! Alanon program is miracle ! Thank you very much !