Friday, February 29, 2008

Al-Ateen Meeting

This post is about Al-Ateen and my daughter.

As you know from reading this blog, my wife left with her buddies for an out of town road trip. These are her ol'buddies, and every year, for the past few years they go together to escape the harrowing lives they live of playing tennis and coordinating house cleaners. They must get together to commiserate their intolerable situations, and drink to forget and decrease the amount of stress in their highly stressful lives.

OKAY. That was sarcastic as hell.

I am setting myself up to be the victim. Isn't Al-Anon great? (no sarcasm here). I am going to leave that little snit up there at the top of this post however, to demonstrate that I am still a little (or a lot?) resentful that my wife refuses to try to participate in reality. Well, what Al-Anon has taught me, is this; That's her life and I cannot control it. (Damn Al-Anon, again ;-) )

Al-Ateen Meeting
First, we did not go out of twon. (As you may recall from last week, earlier this week, I was trying to do something fun, since wife decided without seeing if it was convenient for us, that she was going to the lake/mountains two weeks after her rehab program was complete (which by the way she was drinking through the entire time - it was outpatient rehab not inpatient).

I thought about going pretty hard. In the end, I thought that I might be pampering my daughter if we did this. She said, later, that she wanted to stay home and take care of the dog and be with her friend. I must admit this too: I also have a problem spending money, even though we have enough. It is a carry-over from childhood. But I had decided to SPEND away! I am realizing "who cares" about money if you have happiness. (Damn.)

Also, I was able to find an Al-Ateen meeting at a decent hour (6:30PM). Traveling out of town would have put this meeting in jeopardy.

So I picked my daughter up from her school and had an early dinner. And drove up to the meeting. We got caught in 5 o'clock traffic.

Lesson Learned: Never allow child to go back for a Caffeine-Free Diet Coke refill and not expect to stop along the way. (We stopped three times in 25 minutes. You may remember my post Monday when I was pissed that my wife had her cell phone turned off while she was playing tennis and the school nurse tried to reach her and she wasn't able to take the call).

So we went. I was nervous. She (daughter) wasn't. Daughter is 10. Meeting room in back of a church. It was a new meeting. A man and a women "audit" and "run" the meeting. The meeting is new, but had 12 children show up! 12! I think it is in it's 5th or 6th week. Since it's for teens, they will break up meeting into two (2) groups. One group for 9 to 12 year olds. And second group of 13 to 16 year olds.

I went to the Al-Anon meeting in the building right next door.

My daughter was a strange type of peaceful when we left our respective meeting. She was peace and very aware yesterday afternoon when I picked her up and we had dinner. She was laughing and talking - strangely - very fluently for a 10 year old - or very differently from what I have seen before [with her mom being there? maybe daughter felt the center of attention, since mom was not there? or felt center of attention and a little nervous since she knew she was going to a meeting?]

Some "By the Ways" or Some Things You Should Know About This
The first "by the way:"
my daughter [I hate calling her that, but I feel if I introduce her name to this blog, I destroy or violate some sort of "rule" I have about the anonymity and sacredness of my daugher, so I apologize for the clunkiness of the term, "my daughter."], has wanted to go to a meeting and has expressed a very very strong desire to go to my meetings and meet all the people. She has said, "I want to know I am not alone." And she has said, "I want to talk to people about how I feel."

Some more by the ways;
I am going to take her to my "therapist" (coach/mentor/guide/teacher/counselor/serpa). My daughter has expressed interest in meeting this lady.

Another by the way; my wife expressed, very much, her doubts about Al-Ateen. She said that the "counselor" at her rehab said that he discouraged it. I confronted her (yes I know, I confronted alcoholism) on Wednesday morning, when she said this. I said, "What exactly did he (the counselor) say?" I got a "Hem and a haw and a maybe and a sorta." That night at Family Night (they allow us family members to attend forever, no matter if the addict goes clean and sober or if they relapse), I asked the counselor and he said, "That's good that your daughter goes." And also, by the way, so did my therapist (serpa/guide/life coach/mentor).

After Al-Ateen Meeting
When my daughter and I got home she started reading the literature - right there at the kitchen counter. She said I am going to make a folder and binder out of the material. I asked if she wanted to talk about what she saw and heard there. She told me just a little bit, that no one talked, they pass around a stuffed animal she said and the animal means you can talk to the animal or just pass. They read from some of the literature she said. Then she said (because I told her about anonymity and what goes on there stays there), and this is funny, "Daddy, this is my meeting. Will you tell me what went on in yours?" I said, "No. I can't." She laughed, and said, "See!!" We both started laughing. Like I said, it was a very strange, peaceful evening.

She wanted to call her mom (I started to put the word mom in quotes. Is that some sort of Freudian thing?). She did but her mother did not answer. That was weird. It was 8:50PM. But my daughter thought nothing of it, apparently or least she did not get upset. I suggested that she call her mom's friend. But daughter said, "No. That's ok. I want to read." (This the same friend of my wife's that I called to apologized to for telling her that she needed to go to Al-Anon to see what alcoholism is all about, since she is instrumental for taking my wife out of town with all her buddies.)

So, we went upstairs got ready for bed and she opened up the red Al-Ateen book. I showed her how to read it by going to the index and finding the topic or subject on what she may want to learn more about or what is bothering her.

So she went to bed/sleep a few moments later. But not before say this. "Daddy, I want to go back there next week, OK?" I said, "So you liked it?" "Yes daddy. I did." She said.

I now have a label for Al-Ateen.


Syd said...

I'm glad that she went. In my homegroup we read from the Al-Ateen daily readers and discuss them. The readings are generally very relevant to my past and present.

Joe said...

Thanks Syd. I will tell you I was nervous about exposing my daughter to too much about alcoholism - but in reality the focus is on them (the children). So I continue to learn.