Friday, March 14, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Step 1: Powerless

This weekend's On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Step 1: Powerless over Alcohol.

We admitted we were powerlessness over alcohol - that our lives have become unmanageable.

If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting. The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 3/14/08 and runs to Sunday 3/16/08 evening.

Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

Our host for this weekend is me. He is an exceptional host and is well suited for this topic, as his life has been unmanageable. His qualifier is his wife. But he has a tough time being powerless over alcohol. He has stood toe-to-toe with alcohol, swinging jabs and uppercuts and winning several rounds. However, in the end, when the bell rang, for one more round, my charming and dear friend lost. I or he, did not know he really lost in round one, but his stubbornness, borne out of will and hardheadedness, was willing to "go one more round" - until in the end, alcohol raised it's gloved hand, the victor.

I have posted the message below which will start our meeting for the weekend's meeting on:

"Step 1: Powerless over alcohol and our lives are unmanageable"


Hi, I am Joe.

I bring to you my version of trying to fix the alcoholic. I would try to understand the problem, what was going on in my house for the past several years, by analyzing why food would be burned, or dinner not even cooked. Why my wife was falling and staggering or not able to drive very well. I thought she was a "space cadet." In fact, now that I write this, she used to say, "All my friends think I am spacey."

I tried to fix her by asking to eat at specific times, certain it was a chemical imbalance, or PMS or no food combined with PMS, was creating her anger, her staggering, slurring of words, and so on. It seems stupid now, now that I know she was drinking. But who could have imagined? My wife drinking at 9AM or 10AM every day . . . day in and day out? Huh? What?

So, I tried fixing: Here drink water. Here, let's go exercise. And it worked. Because she was with me and couldn't drink. "See," I would say, "all you need is exercise (water, food, watch happy movies - you name it)." Pretty stupid.

Then one day, my brother, the doctor said, "Did you ever consider she might be drinking on the sly? Or doing drugs?" No way! No way! Then it dawned on me several hours later. "What was that glass clinking sound I heard? In the butler's pantry?" Then I found it. Wine bottles. They were all over the house. Empty!

Here I read from the book "How Al-Anon Works"
"Each of our lives have been devastated by someone else's drinking. We cannot change that fact. We have been profoundly affected by the disease of alcoholism. Its effects continue to permeate our lives. Nor can we change the behavior or the attitudes of those around us. We can't even put a stop to the drinking. We are powerless over alcohol.

"As long as we continue to persist in the delusion that we can control or cure alcoholism, its symptoms, or its effects, we continue to fight a battle that we cannot win.

"Our self-esteem suffers [note to you reader: this impacted me big time. Work suffered. And my confidence was shell shocked], our relationships suffer, and our ability to enjoy life suffers.

". . . Whether or not we live with active drinking, life is unmanageable whenever we lose perspective about what is and is not our responsibility. We take offense with actions that have nothing to do with us. We intervene where it is inappropriate and neglect our legitimate obligations to ourselves and others.

". . . Putting an end to the battle requires completely redefining what we believe about ourselves, others, and our relationships. For example, many of us confuse love with interference. We don't know how to show affection or support without giving advice, seeking to sway another's decisions, or trying to get those we love to do what we think will bring them happiness."

Wow. This describes me, before I hit Al-Anon. I am a little concerned I could drift back into a meddling mindset - excusing my actions by stating "I am just trying to help." I really like the books Al-Anon provides because they fit our issues and aid specifically in our recovery.

This is where you can comment. You can post another excerpt or passage from another book. Or if you have a burning desire, post that.

I wish you the best this weekend.


Ashley said...

Thanks Joe for a great weekend topic!

I keep coming back to this. Logically, I know I'm powerless over others, but my actions and words don't always show that. I have a difficult time getting my logical mind and my emotional heart to play nicely together. I read this today, and it struck a chord in me.

Active alcoholics are people who drink. They don’t drink because of you or me, but because they are alcoholics. No matter what I do, I will not change this fact, not with guilt, shouting, begging, distracting, hiding money or bottles or keys, lying, threatening, or reasoning. I didn’t cause alcoholism. I can’t control it. And I can’t cure it. I can continue to struggle and lose. Or I can accept that I am powerless over alcohol and alcoholism, and let Al-Anon help me to redirect the energy I’ve spent on fighting this disease into recovering from it’s effects. Courage to Change page 74.

I'm trying real hard to redirect my energy. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and look forward to the sharing.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say Thank God for Alanon. Today i am going to a meeting. That is true we are absolutely powerless. The one thing i am struggling with and have always struggle with how do you love someone who lives in your house and still drinks How can you detach with a active alcholic whether they are dry or straight. How do you still have your peace and detach I have tryed that and a few months ago i three my friend out because i literally had it. We were away from each other for about three months and got back together but i thought by the fact oh he is going to meetings sounded straight all the time Wanted him to come back He look good acted good and then he returned only to fine out within the second week DWI that didnt matter he stops he starts the merry go round My question is this Can anyone tell me if they ever have been truly successful with there partner still drinks and yet they find that peace.

Anonymous said...

I live with my qualifier, my boyfriend. For the sake of getting it off my chest...At this very moment he is out of town on a bachelor weekend, which means drinking the whole time with his buddies. But at least it's happening where I don't have to witness it.

Ashley, thank you for your statement, "I have a difficult time getting my logical mind and my emotional heart to play nicely together." That is so true. Yesterday evening, I started to think, "Maybe it's my imagination. Maybe he doesn't really have a problem." That was before he stayed up until 2AM drinking (the night before leaving on a drinking weekend?!?). And before I thought back to the night when he was too drunk to go with me to the emergency vet, my dog nearly dying. There I was at 5AM, the only person in the waiting room, crying my eyes out because I didn't know whether my beloved animal was going to live or die.

I have to put these events back in the forefront of my mind, otherwise that weird denial slips in.

Sorry, this doesn't have much to do with the theme of control.

So, anonymous who wrote at 6:22, I do not know. I am seeking the same answer you are. Whether I need to leave or not. My mind plays tricks on me, which is why I think AlAnon slogans are good. I think my heart knows the answer, because it breaks over and over again.

Thanks for being out there, everyone. It helps me not feel crazy.


Catherine said...

Step One is Number One! For me, Step One is the core, the foundation for all recovery. The other steps are not first because you can't get anywhere until you accept this beautifully simple reality about alcohol.

A lot of what I confront in my recovery confuses me, and as a relative beginner, I find the program overwhelming -- but not this. I guess that for me to find myself at an AlAnon meeting, I had already recognized alcohol's power; or maybe it's because Step One gave me a sense of relief by letting me off the hook, but either way I love Step One. Thanks for sharing, Joe, and thanks for this topic.

Catherine said...


@ Anonymous: I have seen people describe how they achieve serenity even though they live with an active addict, so I believe it is possible. That said, I live with an active drinker and fantasize every day about jetting.

@ AT: Sorry about your pet. :(

Anonymous said...

Tonight i just gave my qualifer the choice To go to meeting at least four a week or he has to leave. I am not tolerating drinking in my own any more again This is it When he returned back to my house the stipulation was you are to go to a room and not stay here Which he agreed to and discussed it with a counselor Well when he did I took him to the room and he tryed to jump out of the car Tryed to grab the wheel Told me i had to take him and buy him liquor No not I said the blind man.
When he drinks he gets straight gets remorseful put a bandaid on my wound so to speak only to rip it open again He is basically lieing Cause his words mean nothing at all. Right now i dont feel like talking to him. I know it is wrong but i shut down So i dont have to deal with his unhealthy behavior. I look at him and see the bottle talking. Anyhow, he says i dont put stipulation on him So i wont i will say that he will be kicked out Love doesnt give anyone the right to walk all over you. We dont have to accept unhealthy behaviors In alanon we talk about choices I do think in the long run I have no hope It seems like this relationship is going no where fast like it did That is what he chooses So I have to choose what is good for me. I go to school I dont work right now But i will be damed if this tornado will continue to cross and hurt my life. No no amount of anything will work to stop an alcholic from drinking But we do have choices just like them It is just like teaching a child Or teaching your kids We have boundaries and they cross them because we allow them too I am done with it Period. Alanon says when we make a decision Say what we mean and mean what we say. Think

Anonymous said...

I have come to realize I am powerless and yes, my life is unmanageable. My qualifier had a dui and totaled an auto last year. Was okay for 90 plus days and then relapsed and is in a 28 day program now. I thought I was a relatively smart person but I feel lost in my powerlessness.

The Good - I am going to lots of al anon meetings and know it is a good place for me to be.

The Bad - I don't understand how I can love and support my person as they work the steps AND still set boundaries. The setting of boundaries seems to be predicting failure or relapse and won't that message thwart the alcoholics recovery?

What is a fair boundary to set without being too rigid which I've heard is bad? I am like another who wrote that they can't stand being around their qualifier when they are drunk. I want to say I'll go somewhere else for the night each time he is. BUt that isn't really practical. So I try going to the other bedroom for the night but he follows me and wants to talk it out, confront me on being judgemental, etc. ANd I just want peace.

Can anyone detach emotionally with love to the point that they life a rewarding life and still have good times with their alcoholic spouse?

Am I "enabling" by continuing to live with him though time and time again he gets drunk and drives?

And lastly, does anyone have a strategy when caught between a rock and hard spot...alcoholic spouse who looks to you to accept them and love them unconditionally and adult children who look to you to take a strong stand against the behavior.

THanks all for this blog and for listening and for any answers or stories and experiences you can share.

Joe said...

Hi - this is Joe
A couple of quick points and "cross talk" (which means I will provide my thoughts on some things stated here).

To Anonymous (6:22), A.T., Anon (12:01AM) - Regarding gain serenity with the A and staying with him/her: I am not sure how to do it. I am trying/have tried. I see others do it who attend Al-Anon meetings.

However, I need to point out, that some people think Al-Anon is for coping and for STAYING with the A (alcoholic). It is not - . It provides tools for you, whether you stay or not. It teaches you to come back out of a nose dive - and helping bring clarity to you and how YOU have changed and drifted into doing things that if you were exposed to in the beginning of a relationship you would say "NO! No way! Do not ever do that to me or to us, again - or - I am out of here." That is my opinion. But because of the changes in the home, over time, the gradual things that take place, we wind up somewhere in a place where we put up with illogical behaviors from others and then feel guilty when we fail to meet the illogical demands from illogical people. THINK about that for a minute!!! Is this not true??? [I am writing to me as well].

Regarding boundaries ; Never set a boundary you are not willing to firmly stand behind. i.e. - if you say 4 meetings a week or I am out of here, before saying that think about "out of here" and what that means? Are you out of the house immediately? Are you spearating and being in different rooms and then making plans to leave? Think it thru and what you mean and what action takes place before you set a boundary. A boundary can be powerful for YOU - to get YOU to move and take action. It can be used as a threat. BUT, it is more powerful when you say "if this, then no more" for yourself. Not for the A to do something. But for you to say "I need a life" or "I am not accepting this behavior" or "I am going to take care of myself."

You cannot make the A stop drinking. You can, however, in my readings and meetings drag their butts to rehab, drop them off to AA and call their family in for help. Let them read the Dark Cloud of Chaos post and the comments in it so they understand what happens in the home of an A. People outside the environment will say "YOU are overreacting." No way! You are not. Do not be lulled into that.

As for grabbing the wheel of the car. Next time, pull over. Ask him to get out. If he refuses, call the police. 911. That's what they do and what they are there for. Do not allow the A to do this to you. He or she will do other things next. It is called a progressive disease for a reason. Typically progressive behavoirs follow.

I am sorry for the long comment. But I feel compelled to say "we are being lulled slowly into a 'new normal' because the changes are so small, everyday, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we don't see how drastically our lives have changed and what we now accept when a year ago we would have said "You are a weirdo - I am out!"


Joe said...

One last thing. Step 1 is about getting YOU into recovery and getting your life to some sanity.

Start with this:There are two people in recovery (more in recovery if you have children). It is called a "family disease" for a reason.

So, you have to focus on yourself (and your children). And see if you can get the A to focus on themselves. You cannot focus ON YOU AND YOUR QUALIFIER. You only get sicker when you focus on the A getting well. This is because your life becomes out of balance. You sacrafice things for the A, you normally wouldn't.

Also, your children begin focusing on the A too (because they see you do it and the "model" themselves).

WHat happens to the child, is they want balance restored. They want attention. To gain the attention they fulfill roles and behave in ways that are not normal, in an attempt to gain attention they are not getting. Their attempt to gain attention can become extreme. They need love and attention. The A may not be able to provide it. Therefore if you are absent minding the A, there are now two people not providing the love and attention they need.

If you remember nothing else, remember this when you are trying to fix the A. So much attention is paid to the A, that the children begin to feel insignificant. And may act out later.

[This will motivate you Joe]

Anonymous said...

A meeting I went to last week someone suggested changing the word "unmanageable" to "unbearable." That hit home with me. I think I'm doing a great job "managing" my life. But is it what I want it to be? Is it bearable? Are the relationships in my life unbearable? Are my relationships with my qualifiers unmanageable and unbearable? Without a doubt. Do I have any idea how to change the relationship? Not really . . .but I know going to Al Anon, reading the literature and working the steps will help ME in all of my relationships and affairs.

Baby steps. It took a long time for me to develop this crazymaking behavior from the affects of alcoholism in my life. I shouldn't expect it to change overnight. Through constantly working the steps, this step in particular, I can only hope that I will start to change. Once I begin to change I can only anticipate that my relationships will begin to change too.

This step also speaks to attempting to control others. As I sat meditating on this step last week I was thinking "I don't try to control other people, only manage them." Right! Control and managing are one and the same. Ultimately I can only be responsible for myself and my actions. One of my qualifiers recently completed a 28 day program. Prior to their release from treatment I became ate up inside worrying about their aftercare recovery program and sobriety. How many meetings are they planning to go to each week? Who is going to get all the alcohol out of the house? What if we go out to dinner and they are offered wine? Will they be seeing an addictions therapist? I'm wearing myself out just thinking about it all again. Then I realized - I can not manage their recovery or sobriety. That is not my job. All I can do is work my recovery and my program, and turn their recovery over to my Higher Power. That's his job!

Thanks for a great topic!
~ Cam

FrannyGlass said...

What a great topic! I can really relate to what everyone has been saying.

Today, being "powerless" means keeping the focus on me, and not trying to manage my qualifiers behaviours. It's not always easy, but it can be liberating.

The serenity to accept the things I cannot change...

Yesterday primary qualifier was telling me about some problems he is having at work and my stomach tightened. My first thought went to, "Oh no, the pattern is repeating itself. This always happens. He thinks he's better, smarter, more qualified for the job than anyone he works with. They're on to his particular brand of insubordination. He's going to lose this job, too."

The pre alanon me would have jumped right in there with some really detailed advice about what he should do, how he should behave and what he should do next. I also would have let the swirling "what ifs" take over my day. Truthfully, I've spent too many days to count worrying ceaselessly about someone else's problems. I've worried myself sick over his ability to support himself. Talk about unmanageable.

The courage to change the things I can...

Peace out, everybody.

Anonymous said...

About how things become unmanageable...

Has anyone else seen that news story about the woman who wouldn't come out of her bathroom? She was there for two years. Finally her boyfriend called for help because she seemed to need medical assistance. I had two reactions to this story. One was (the "normal" reaction), "Why did it take him two years to call for help?" and the second one was, "I understand perfectly how two years could pass like that..." Each day he would ask her to come out of the bathroom, and she would say, "Maybe tomorrow..."

This seems a perfect parallel to how we come to live in the chaos of an alcoholic household. At first maybe it's a little offbeat, quirky, there are ways to explain it (he drinks a lot, but it's because he's in a band and they all drink a lot) but then days roll into weeks and months... suddenly years have passed. Things have not changed, in fact they've worsened (the band broke up, the drinking never slowed, he doesn't remember things the next day).

Then we wake up and say, How the f- did I get here?


Ashley said...

A.T. - that was exactly the same response I had when I read that story. It's way too easy to let days pass without realizing what's happening. Joe mentioned it in one of his comments... "we are being lulled slowly into a new normal". If you dropped the me from 10 years ago into my life today, there's no way in hell I would stand for, put up with, or deal with 1/10 of the stuff I consider normal now. If I hadn't been through that conditioning process, I would never live with this.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a friend introduced me to the frog-in-hot-water analogy back in January. "lulled" is a good word.

It's still a mild shock to me when he doesn't remember things the next day. And so completely sad how he's learned to cover it up with vague statements, or "Oh, yeah, I remember now..." For the longest time, I just concluded he had a crappy memory. I have a really good memory, but a lousy sense of direction. So I thought it was like that. Nothing abnormal, just different. Until I started noticing exactly what and when he was not-remembering. Evenings and nights, when drinking.

If I am the only one who remembers, then I feel even more alone.

I didn't go to a meeting last night, and I didn't go to one this morning, so now I'm faced with waiting through tomorrow to go to the one tomorrow evening.

Hope everyone out there is doing okay. I'm glad to have found this community. It helps transform the surreal into reality, if that makes sense.

A.T. (again)

Anonymous said...

Joe thanks for all your encouraging words. I do know that in Alanon it doesnt teach us how to put up with the A. It merely teaches to take care of ourselves. I do believe as we get stronger We do decide at what point when to say enough enough. By the way i did stop my car that day and he got out. So i wasnt going to allow my car or me to crash. I have called 911 before for incidents and will not hesitate to do it again.
My qualifer last week got intoxicated and after the third or fourth day i called and they took him away But of course if he isnt a danger to himself or others and they dont see enough evidence Then they dont keep him The only thing that was conforting was they will keep him the next time he does it. I wont allow it If it happens one day he will be removed by ambulance I dont care if i have to lie. I will tell him he is been drinking and he takes ativan so i will tell them.
It seems we do have a system which isnt good They dont see a person drinking as being endangered I guess they dont look at alchol poisoning but it is real.
Anyhow we are so very powerless over the disease itself. I hear over and over again I want to stay sober I dont believe it not for one minute. So i do know my program and i am allowing myself to be taken in. I know the crap. I do know and will always know the three C. So when he trys to feed me that i did this or i did this I dont ever believe that at all.
I just need to figure out why i allow this. Oh he says noone is going to force him to go to meetings. He will be rebellious Maybe if i dont demand he goes. His father was a controller It is all tactics the dry drunk, He says he is sober but that isnt sober that is dry. Regardless I have a life to live I go to school I rather get paid to deal with this than live with it. He is a beautiful man with alot of love but his disease rears its ugly head He doesnt even see it.

Anonymous said...

Joe i wanted to say in regards to dropping them off at a rehab Dropping them off at AA. i did all that and called the family. Well the family needs Alanon because they think he is a saint i guess I dont know I am the bad guy I have done all that to no avail.

Kathy said...

I finally attended my first Al-Anon meeting two months ago out of sheer desperation. I was certain that they would tell me what to do to cure my 2 much-loved alcoholics.

Well! Not one word was uttered that would help me learn to control this problem. Instead, the meeting was all about them, a room full of happy, accepting, mostly older women. They were all very kind and helped me to pick out some literature to read.

Like Joe, I am an early riser and started the habit of reading at 5 am. Wow! I am powerless over alcohol. My life is unmanageable AND unbearable. What a great place to start on this journey of discovery and healing.

A lot has happened in these 2 months. Just my newly acquired awareness and few subtle changes in my behavior apparently are having a positive affect on the As in my life.

So I now know that I didn't cause it. I can't either control it or cure it. I am powerless over alcohol. The good news is that I have power over my own behavior which has brought me great hope and some new-found peace. And this is just the beginning...

Joe said...

To Anonymous (1:03AM)

First, I am glad that you did call 911 and did not endanger yourself. ("Glad" is not the right word, as it makes the sentence sound like I am evaluating and I am not, everyone will hopefully see this in the next sentences.)

To All; Second, if I sound like I am evaluating, I apologize. Whenever I am writing on this blog, I am speaking to myself. In fact, I am often SCREAMING at myself - screaming at myself to WAKE UP! I have been lulled into complacency. I am putting up with things I would have said, "Are you F'g Kidding Me?" 10 or 15 years ago. Now, it has become, the "new normal."

I see myself in everyone's words. I have been through hell, as I know some of you have and are going thru right now.

This disease, is not like cancer or diabetes. It not only affects the patient but the entire family is wounded. It is a psychological, emotional, and physical disease - basically one of mental abuse.

No one seems to understand that.

HOWEVER. I have experienced HELL now, and the good news is, I can get out of HELL. I just don't want to go back to HELL. I have been to HELL twice - with alcoholism growing up and now married to it.

As for the Saint. You are not the "Sinner." You are being made to feel like the sinner. We all are and have been made to feel this way. As soon as we learn some of the tools, like detach (and it can be any form of detach, as long as you do not engage - in my opinion - because engaging is the killer), you separate who you are from entangling with the alcoholism - which I will say, is the AWEFUL thing (note: I did not say the person).

Alcoholism has been called - and remember this - by psycologists everywhere as "cunning, baffling and powerful."

Last - You (I) don't have to prove to anyone you are the GOOD Guy/Lady. KNOW that you ARE. KNOW you are already. Be that GOOD guy. Do not be tricked into feeling guilty and feeling like you are to blame.

Remember, this (blame, guilt, shame, anger) is alcoholism's device to keep the focus OFF the addiction. It's aim is to make you (me) feel inferior.


Attempting to Peace Out the rest of the weekend.

Anonymous said...

I am back at step one having no control or cure over this thing I did not cause! This 3 step waltz is making me dizzy! I am powerless over my sons' using and my husband's drinking, or any of the other addictions in my life. My heart is so heavyladen and full of sorrow over their choices and the effects its made on my life. I try to surrender and give them up but I can't let go. If I am helping them because they aren't doing for themselves because obviously they're 'sick', how is that enabling istead of helping? I am only trying to 'love them until they are able to love themselves'; but it's killing me in the process, spiritually and physically!

Anonymous said...

Powerless...that is exactly how I feel. I think that is why Al Anon will be so good for me. I went to my first meeting last week. I am in awe that the PERFECT PROGRAM for me is right here, just when and where I need it. It gives me hope.

I relate to EVERYTHING I read from members and the awakening I am now going through is incredible. I realized only a month ago that I am the frog in the boiling water! My best friend is killing herself and I've been right there, drinking with her for TWENTY FIVE years. Through all the crap I've stayed.

I've known she was an alcoholic from the first time I had to pick her up off the ground at a party when we were 15 years old. Since that time, I've picked her up over and over and over and over. I've literally carried her home early from parties, dinners, and concerts...because she was my best friend and she needed my help. A frog in boiling vat of denial.

For the past year, her state of mind has been deteriorating. The chaos has increased and the dramas are growing more intense and insane. Every episode, I grow more resentful and angry. She's been sensing my negativity and picking fights with me. So I took a good hard look inside myself and, thankfully, I KNEW I couldn't do it anymore. But now what? I had so many questions - I was so confused.

So about one month ago I googled "my best friend is an alcoholic" and Al Anon stepped into my life. It is TRULY amazing how many people have come together to help each other through the same hell I've been living in. Someone to help catch me when I fall out of this downy denial nest I've built.

Sometimes I think I must be very screwed up from all this - after all there is an army of people right here, standing together, to tell me that I am caught up in a crazy family disease and I am being seriously affected as a result. It's like realizing I am in some sort of isolation cult and it's time to break free.

As a newcomer, I am so grateful to be given permission to say out loud "I am powerless" and in turn, be so lifted up! It took a LONG time to get where I am today. Twenty five years living in a chaotic circus full of disappointment.

I am the first in our group of friends to embark on this journey. So I am alone and scared but still I begin my "reprogramming" in earnest. I know it will be difficult. But it HAS to better than where I am now.

I really am powerless over alcohol and my life really has become unmanageable.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning All,

Reminds me of:

There are three frogs each sitting on lily pad. One decides to jump. How many frogs are sitting on a lily pad?

....... 3.......

Just because the frog decided to jump, it doesn't mean he actually did... That is exactly how I felt for many months, that turned into years....

Once I accepted the fact that indeed I am powerless of alcohol, it then became clear that it was not a healty environment for me to stay in.

You see, my relationship turned from the person, to the alchohol. I no longer had a relationship with another person, but with the cause, and the effects of alcohol. It became the only common ground between us, her the user, and me the enabler. Sounds like the title to a really, really bad movie.

I made the hard decision to take the pain of alcohol out of my life, I could no longer sit and watch the slow destruction of the both of us.

When I came clear, and shed the shackles of the alcoholics lifestyle, it became quite clear in the days and months after, there are days of peace, contentment, opportunities to grow, live, love, and smile.

I see the world, and my little piece of it from a brand new pair of glasses. Oh, it is such a sight to see!!

Peace this Sunday.


Anonymous said...

Joe you are so on the money Yes i know how the alcholic trys to attempt to turn it around on us It is always easy for them Then they dont ever have to focus on there stuff. I know that the best message i can give myself is detach. Otherwise it is a living hell. It is like waiting for the next storm to come. The lull before the storm. It sucks to live this way and i reconize i have choices I put forth that attitude yesterday I will say i came out of my skin I wasnt very appropriate but over time we do in fact become just as sick as they do. The real sad part is they just dont get it. Right now it is good for the most part. Today all we can take it one day at a time because you never know when it lurks around the corner. When it is good it is great but then all it takes is something little something big it doesnt matter the storm returns.
I guess what i am saying is we have to enjoy the moment live today and be prepared for that storm. So when it comes you dont get disappointed. What happens though to me each time is happens i feel less close to that person Only normal. It is as if i have to build walls. Not good but not good to allow them to be all the way in. Alanon if it wasnt for Alanon i dont know where i would be. I have friends that are in AA too. They are in recover. Most alcholics are actually very loving people after they get it together. I have support from both programs. I encourage people to learn about the disease and sit in on a meeting It does give you a better understanding of the disease. It doesnt help to change anything but it does help to give you some sort of peace of mine if only for that moment or that day. All i can say is thank God for program. Joe Thanks for sharing you are a man with incredible knowledge. Thanks for sharing

desperate said...

This is new for me-My husband has 4 DUI's. He lucked out and got 5 years deffered supervised probation. If he gets caught in that probation drinking/driving he goes to prison for 5 years plus whatever they give him for the new offense. We have two children together and have been married for 8 years. Im lost. Currently as I type this - He is not home. He didn't come home from work Thursday night ever. He managed to make it to work today (Friday), but he got off three hours ago and still hasn't come home. He has done this every week or two for the past 8 years. He did once go for a couple of months, but thats the longest. He usually stays gone one night, but every great once in a while it will be two nights or sometimes three. When he is home he doesn't drink a drop and I here the same sympathy he always gives. How sorry he is and how he wants to stop and he doesn't know why he does it. He is breaking so many hearts. His children are 8 and 5 and they know that when daddy doesn't come home, its because he chose not to, he went drinking. I tell them that he had to work late or he got sent out of town for work, but they know, especially my 8 year old whats going on. I am so drained physically, emotionally, & spiritually.

Anonymous said...

dear desperate, I hope that Joe will reply to you soon. he has a lot of wisdom to offer. I just wanted you to know that there are people out there (here) who care. I understand your breaking heart, I do. Keep reading the site. If there are any al-anon meetings near you, and you are able to attend one, I suggest you give it a try. For me it was a relief just to know that there were other people out there who might understand that feeling of drowning.

Joe said...

Dear Desperate
My question to you is; Are you sitting home waiting for him? Or are you out over the neighbors or going to the movies with your kids? Are you sitting worrying for him to come home? Or could you be going about a normal life and not worrying?

When you worry, you only make yourself miserable. And you don't get him home faster.

If you can make plans like going over your parents or his parents when he is out that may help too. It may help you get support from others close to you.

Have you considered talking to the neighbors and asking them to watch the kids in case he come home drunk.

Have you considered telling him he needs to go to rehab? or AA? Or else . . .? (I am not sure what or else is or could be for you, but you cannot threaten him and not follow thru.

Also - a church may be willing to help, almost every church has a support group.

Obviously Al-Anon literature is great. The book How Al-Anon Works is the best one for beginners in my estimation. It explains Alcoholism and what you should be doing and not doing. As you go to Al-Anon Hope for Today and Courage to Change are my favorites

Don't do this:
1. Beg
2. Plead
3. Engage (argue when he is drunk)
4. Threaten without backing it up
5. Don't try to strangle him. You could hurt your wrists
6. Don't take out your bad mood on the children (this is a VERRRRRY EASY thing to do! And this is not aimed at you - but we are all human and make mistakes)
7. If he falls - don't pick him up.
8. If he needs a ride to somewhere, don't. Let him feel the pain.

1. Have a back up plan if he gets another DUI. 5 years of jail, you will need an income and plan for the house and living
2. Get out and get support from friends and family
3. Learn about Alcolholism. What you normally would do for people who are sick, you SHOULD NOT do here for the alcoholic.
4. HALT - Hunger is your enemy as is ANGER; Lonely (you need friends and this disease tends to isolate us because we are embarrassed and don't want to burden others); Tired - get SLEEP
5. Be honest with your children. If they ask about dad, tell them the truth; he has a terrible disaese and the disease wants him to drink more. It is NOT dad, but the disease that is affecting him (and you).

Hope ths helps


Anonymous said...

Hi Joe
Iwould like to tell you a little about my self. I am married to a nalcoholic for 44 years. It has been aterrible life and I should of left a long time ago.I do feel that by staying I have gave the wrong message to my kids.They are adults now I have one daughter and two sons. My daughter I never had any trouble with but she did marry an alcloholic. My first son I leard so much about drugs. Any way to make a long story short he o. d. at the age of 27 and went with his cousin to a.a. and he had 15 years sobriety. Then he got a fatal infection and almost died he was on a resperator fighting for his life for about two weeks. God gave him back to us. It turned out to be septis and I was told that only two out of ten make it and he made it ,thank god. He was married at the time and has four small kids. Then things look like they were getting better but he ended in the hospital again this was about two years after getting the septis. O, the septis left him with an enlarge heart but the doctor said that if he took care of himself that he would live to be an old man . He also has high blood pressure. So he is in the hospital again and this time I was told that he has two to three years to live because the drugs he was on distroyed his heart his wife then told me that he has been using crack for a long time. He had his own business and lost it all, of cause his wife was doing her thing and the marrage is over .He has lived with me for about a year waiting to get on disability and he will be getting it in about two weeks and I told him it is time to hit the road. I thank I have done all I can for him he can still take care of himself he does need a heart transplant he drives so thats good. So I pray for him and leave it in gods hands. Now son number two is a long time alcoholic I have no idear when he started to drink but I have put him rehab most of his life only for him to tell me that he will stop when he is ready not when Iam ready. So when he said that to me ten years ago I showed him the door and told him Im ready for you to leave your father drinks and you drink and two is to many for me. He has used up all his friends in the pass years no one will help him any more he steals and gets drunk and causes a lot of trouble. He now lives on the street does not want to get in a rehab and comes to me every day for food I do feed him because he looks terrible and has lost a lot of weight. I hope that he will wake up and smell the roses soon Aso I have myers act him twice. So I feel that I never should of stayed married If they dont stop drinking after a couple of request they are NEVER going to give it up as far as I see. I hate to say this but it is a waste of time and years to stay with these kind of people I am still with my husband at 62 and I tell you from experience they will make your life a misable hell every time they use and it is a very loney life. The exsample that I gave to my kids was it is o.k. to be a screw up. I hope that they realize that I was so wrong to say but I had no money and no job that could pay enoth to support them all. To proud to go on welfare. how stupid of me I would of had a better future. Thanks for listening. MC.

Catherine said...

Thanks for sharing your story here, MC. It was very moving for me to read. I hope that you visit and contribute again, because it sounds like you know a lot about hanging tough and have a lot of wisdom and experience to share.

I hope that you are not too hard on yourself. We make our decisions based on what we have at the time and do the best we can with the strength we have. Good luck and god bless.

Anonymous said...

Hi Catherine
Thanks for your support.I truly know that if it wasnt for god I would not have made it this far but I can tell you this I realy need to break the chain. I really never knew what it is like to be happy. I got married to get away from my parents and I thought that I was in love. Wrong reasons to get married I was 17 at the time. At the age that I am at now I truly learned and believe me when I tell you this , that the only one that can make you happy is YOU. god bless m.c.

Anonymous said...

This step reminds me of what I do have power over---MYSELF!!

What am I doing to better myself? Am I still harping on how the Alcoholic is affecting my life? In what ways am I allowing him to do this? In what ways am I using the alcoholic for an excuse for what I am NOT doing in my life? Maybe even blaming him/her for the fear I have?

These are all questions I am looking at in my newest attempt at following this wonderful program.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much everyone for your wisdom. My life is upside-down right now. Our son died of a heroin overdose on Feb. 4. Prior to that, a year ago Christmas, on my 30th sober anniversary in AA, I found my husband, my qualifier, dead drunk with a hidden bottle in the house. I had to leave. He had been previously sober, to my knowledge for almost 16 years. I found out later that he had been drinking behind my back for at least a year prior to this drunk.

My alcoholic, my husband, is in a locked psychiatric ward at this moment. They have put him on so many drugs that he does not remember conversations he had two days ago. I am out of state on a trip that was planned two months ago. My A and I cannot communicate. He is furious because I found out he has been sneak drinking for the past two-plus years, all the time posing as a sober alcoholic in AA--and I told him that I refuse to live with him until he: a) completes a drug & alcohol treatment program; and b) has a sponsor and is making meetings; and c) shows me by his actions that he is committed to sober living.

To complicate matters, we are both clerics, Buddhist teachers, and our sangha (congregation) is in a total uproar and confusion over all of this. We have many students who have trusted us deeply. They are so shaken by this turn of events.

My stomach is churning as I write this. Joe's counsel on "meaning what you say and saying what you mean" as well as making boundaries for ourselves, to take care of ourselves, has been extremely helpful.

I am trying to bring myself back to this moment, to breathe in, because my life has spun out of control. I don't even know where I will be living because my A refuses to leave home after he gets out of the psych ward, which apparently is happening today while I am out of state. I made a mistake--I got him a bed in a treatment program, but he didn't take it. This was a mistake because I know full well I can't fix this man.

Everything that is happening to me points to "I have no control," so I must give control of EVERYTHING to my higher power. I feel lonely and confused, and yet I know there is help if I will but take it. (My first Alanon meeting was Alateen in 1958!)

And the other day at an Alanon meeting I figured something out which I would like to pass on to everyone out there: Addiction is my path. I've been surrounded by it since the day I was born. I can chose to walk this path with serenity, courage and wisdom, holding my head up high--or I can leave the path. I'm chosing to walk this road.

Joe said...

To Anonymous - Do NOT move out of your home until you consult an attorney. This may be considered abandonment in some states. Abandonment has a "meaning" in law and divorce cases.

I hope you come back and read this post.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joe,

As it happens, you'll remember I gave everything over to my Higher Power, and my A went to rehab! He actually was discharged from the psych ward and then did go home and had to apply for social security, because he's about to retire. And he drove himself to rehab after about 3 weeks of sobriety. After losing the bed I found for him, he somehow managed to get one on his own. In an instant it seems so much can turn around. When I wrote this blog, I was feeling the house of cards had come down. Now I see a glimmer of hope--not because I depend on him for my happiness, but because somewhere in there, he heard the message that he needs treatment.

One of the most important lessons in all of this for me has been that no matter what happens, I do not lose myself. I was clear and specific with him--meant what I said. He's in treatment.

God help us now.

Thank you for this online meeting.

christy said...

my alanon mom hates my recovering alcoholic boyfriend. shes big in alanon so she should know hes not a bad person cause hes an addict

Anonymous said...

Anonymous saids I wrote about my life on april7 2008 and now it is 2/27/2009 and my son that I was talking about that was an alcoholic well the beer did what it went after to do it took my sons life, he passed away on7/27/2008 It was the worst day of my life and every day I miss him and my heart is broken the pain never goes away but I do know that jesus loves him more then me and he is in a better place and is happy and healthy. Then to top things off my husband who also is an alcoholic started to pass blood with his bowl movements went to the doctor up the street and took a step inside and started to throw up a lot of blood he had to go to the hospitat and by the time he got ther his blood pressure was 60/ 40 he was gray looking and I knew that he was in a lot of trouble, any way he has seven ulsers three in the stomach wall and four in the small intestines. the doctor said if he goes home and starts drinking he will be back and the next time he might not make it. He got home four days ago and guess what he is doing he said that he has cut down from a twelve pack to two a day they never stop playing games with ther life but I have a life to and I do my thing and he can do his thing I am not going to let this run my life and he is the only one that can save himself. So good luck to him he knows where the help is. As for my other son he is holding his own and we dont know from day to day what it will bring. Well lots of prays are welcome and thanks for this program to give me direction and wisdom. gratefully m.c.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if its too late to comment here. I've been married 30 years. My husband is bi-polar (no, I didn't know it, actually didn't know what it meant). Alcohol became a trigger for him to go into manic episodes. Naive as I was, I believed in my marriage vows. I had him hospitalized twice in our first two years of marriage.And it only got worse. Finally, 15 years ago I had him hospitalized (during an extreme manic episode) and let him know he could not come home until he completed the program. (We had two grade school children at the time. I literally hid them at a family member's house out of town to protect them). And no, he did not stay, he checked himself out the next da and proceeded to spend every cent we had, to the tune of $150K. He flew out of state to see his family who met him at the airport and had him committed. He did come home, sober, and is still sober to this day. I did all of this alone, no support.

Now, here I am again. This time with my brother. A 63 year old drunk/stoner. He ruined his marriage of 38 years, lost his teaching job, lost his home (which he built himself), then moved in with my elderly parents. While on hard liquor he threw my father into a glass door (went and passed out) while father's pacemaker was trying to keep him alive. Mom is on Hospice Care at home, he has gotten so angry that he's thrown a chair across the living room and busted her lip.

We lost our home to foreclosure last year (mostly, due to my husband's illness) and moved closer to Mom and Dad to "help" my brother. We were 3 hours away.
He would call me almost daily and talk for 4 hours each time. Yes, I knew he was drunk, I felt if he was on the phone with me he couldn't hurt them. My youngest son was getting ready to graduate high school and I couldn't afford the gas to get there physically. Anyway, we rented a house 30 minutes away. today, I find myself living in the country at my parent's house, my brother living in an RV 40 steps behind the house. He comes to the main house in the morning for a cup of hot chocolate (doesn't drink coffee) and is on his way back by 9:30 for his first beer and toke of the day. He actually believes he is accomplishing things on the18 acre property by never coming out of his RV, except to replenish his beer. In the meantime, my husband and two sons don't want to come here because of him. Dad doesn't trust him with mom, and I can't leave.

My conundrum is how to get him to go. He's reached the stage of nonsensical talking, combined with storming, brooding, or hiding.

I've never talked to Al-Anon before. I lived through one too many already and do Not want to be trapped again.

Anonymous said...

Hi I am new to this online meeting blog..if I make any mistake pl pardon me. It is great to find this blog.
My alcoholic is sober but most of the time his dry drunk behaviour is difficult to recognise. But these steps r the best tools to help myself to detach from his difficult to handle behaviour. Specially as rightly said by Catherine step one is the best step. .as acceptance of poqerlessness gives great relief and defuse the difficult situation. Thanks to alanon sharings on various such blogs. Thanks to everyone. .

Anonymous said...

I have spend almost 2 years with a alcoholic. I am in the process of detaching from the relationship but I find it so difficult to "abandon" him. He is in a downward spiral at the moment and the hateful horrible man he becomes is someone I no longer want to deal with. But then the thought of the good times and the good man he can be creeps back into my mind and I begin to give in and want to be with him. I feel as if I am sick and addicted to him. Can anyone give me advise on how to not feel guilty for leaving him when he may need me the most. The continuous drama and Jack Daniel binge cycles are more than I can handle anymore. I cannot understand how I can love a man that on most days is so drunk he doesn't know if hes coming or going. And a man that shows me little love or respect. I find myself putting him first and myself and my needs out of the equation. Is this a common thing for a alcoholic relationship

Anonymous said...

Working on the unmanageable part of step 1.
In trauma still over discovery of the husband sexting another man.