Friday, March 28, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Alcoholism In The Home

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Alcoholism In The Home
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 3/28/08 and runs to Sunday 3/30/08 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.

Have you ever tried to explain what it like to live in a home as a child or as a spouse in the home with active alcoholism - to someone who has never been in it?

Living in a home with an alcoholic is difficult to understand by people who are not living in it. I personally have tried to explain it therapists (who do not have training in addictions) and found that they have no clue. I have read where people who have commented on this blog talked to neighbors, friends and relatives and gave them solutions that mirrored something out of "Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus." Even one trained addiction specialist, who is a recovering alcoholic, suggested I read Dale Carnegie's "How To Win Friends and Influence People" because I assume, he was not now living with an active alcoholic.

People who are on the outside just do not understand what we live through. They may say, "It's in your head." Or they may say, "Have you read this book, listened to this CD or gone to couples church outing?"

It is a disease. There are neurological effects that lead to dementia, which can lead to learning, memory and behavioral disorders. But worse, it affects the entire family system.

Below are some terrible, but accurate passages about how it affects children and adults

The following passages are from the book, "From Survival To Recovery"

"What is it like growing up in an alcoholic home? If you asked me a few years ago, I would have had to say, "I have no idea." My childhood was so painful that the only way I could survive was to block out the pain; I also blocked out the good. It was as if I had no life. When my family talked about events, I felt stupid because I couldn't remember them, and it frightened me that I couldn't remember. I couldn't feel, either. I was numb.

"What is it like? It's unremitting fear - fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, fear of being known - a constant, nagging fear that never goes away.

"It's lonely. It's wanting so desperately to be a part, yet pushing people so far away I couldn't possibly be connected. It's isolating myself and then being the outsider looking in and never fitting in. I'm often ashamed. I'm afraid to lose the only people who say they love me. I'm afraid they won't come back, and then I'm afraid they will. It's confusing. People say they love me and then they hurt me. In my gut, I know something is wrong, but I'm told I overreact or I'm too sensitive. So I learn to not trust my instincts.

"It's being needy. It's being convinced I am loved and unlovable. It's needing to hear over and over, "You're wonderful!" yet never believing it. So I always need to hear it again, and it's still not enough. It's feeling that I am not enough. It's having to do for others so that I can earn their love, yet feeling that what I give is never enough."


These are the voices of children and adults living in an alcoholic environment,

This is where we comment on the affects of what is happening in our homes or what has happened in our homes. And how can we try to tell someone who has never been through this?

Please comment on the topic or comment if you have a burning desire.


Anonymous said...

A comment on the effects of what has happened in my home. Well let's see...for starters we have very few friends we get together with any more. This is something, which I am now aware of, that can progress into isolation so I am making more of an effort to be with other people regardless of whether my husband can be there. But, since I am never sure if my husband will be sober, I can not invite people to our home. If and when I do make plans with other couples/families, it is usually at their home or another location besides our house. But it is difficult to keep coming up with excuses not to have "playdates" at our house with my daughter's friends from school.

I have also had to give up the idea of having a budget. This bothers me because I grew up poor (parents divorced, single mom with factory job) and have anxiety about money, even though we are now doing well financially. I am a systematic goal oriented person who enjoys planning for the future. The bills are getting paid and we have enough to still save for college and retirement, but I know there is so much more spending that could be trimmed. However if I even bring up the idea of a budget, it will be seen as controlling. So I have resigned myself to the fact that I am not going to waste a large chunk of my time analyzing the minutia of our finances only to have it shot down, or agreed on and then ignored.

In addition, I always thought I would have two children. However, since I figured out my husband is an alcoholic (figured it out when our daughter was 1.5 years old) I have decided I will not have another child. This was a difficult thing for me to admit to myself, but it is the right decision for me in my situation.

It bothers me that we can not agree on any common goals for the future. In fact I really struggle with this one day at a time stuff because my experience has taught me that "failing to plan is planning to fail", and that "god helps those who help themselves".


Anonymous said...

Me to Suzanne. I am a "planner." I visualize what the future could be and work backwards to create it. It worked in my work and my personal life. It was always being thrown off by my applying it in my family because of my qualifier. It is said that you cannot depend on the alcoholic and therefore you cannot have expectations of them.

Anonymous said...

Explaining what it was like to grow up in an alcoholic home to another person was NEVER a consideration for me. The shame, fear, and guilt felt every day as a child, and then as an adult, was hard to bear, to put it mildly. I think if I had to actually tell somebody, the shame alone would have killed me.

Looking back on my childhood in the 1950s, I recall no one ever discussing private family matters outside of the home, even with grandparents. Everyone in our little town seemed to be acting as if everything was always just fine as we all kept our secrets to ourselves. So for 50 years I've kept my shame and guilt to myself, that is, until I found Al-Anon.

Suzanne's mentioning "God helps those who help themselves" was nearly a credo growing up in our home back then. My interpretation was "You must solve all your problems on your own, by yourself".

50 years later I found Al-Anon, and in that discovery I found that Al-Anon is a part of "God's help". I don't have to do this on my own after all.

Thanks to all of you for helping me progress toward peace with the alcoholics in my life.

Anonymous said...

"Numb", "nagging fear", "needing to hear, 'you're wonderful' all the time, but never believing it", "not trusting your instincts"... Argh! I know each and every one of those little lovelies.

Reading this weekend's comments has just made me realise that I must have a serious talk with our 22 year-old son. He and I have discussed his dad's "drink problem" and been open and honest about it as adults, but I've never asked him about its effect on his life as a child. He seems a well adjusted human being, but who knows what's lurking under the surface?

Joe, you are so right about it leading to a form of dementia - I finally managed to get my spouse's attention when I explained that I felt like the partner of an alzheimer sufferer - watching the personality they love being destroyed, bit by bit, until the personality they love is no longer there.

I was SO excited - he went to the doctor - he had blood tests - he was put on a month's regime to slowly reduce his intake ..... it was wonderful - the whole atmosphere in the house changed - we were happy - we worked together for a future - he had energy - his life had colour ....... he went to his club, he came back smashed, he was ashamed, he was angry, he's asleep and it's the middled of the day.

Anyone got any ideas how many times this pattern will repeat itself? Life is a roller-coaster of emotion and I'm SO tired ... and he wonders why I'm always at work!

And as for planning, Suzanne - I'm supposed to have booked a holiday for us to visit our son (he lives in another coutry)but I don't want to travel with a bad-tempered, stressed-out, impatient man. If he sticks to his redution plan, it could be wonderful, but I can't bring myself to trust him.

I hope the rest of your, and my, weekend is calm.


Anonymous said...


I realize everyone's situation is unique, but is it possible for you to book the trip to visit your son with out him? I am taking my daughter on a trip in April, just the two of us. I had originally wanted to make it a "whole family trip" with all three of us, but I have no expectations regarding him anymore. I told my husband we would like him to join us, but he needs to make his own flight arrangements if he would like to join us. I actually this backward psychology may work and think he might come with us, but I am not going to get my hopes/expectations up.

I feel your pain about the "sleeping during the middle of the day" stuff. That is what happens in my house when the binge is on. No yelling or arguments, now I just usher him into the guest room, he sleeps in the guest bed and I close the door and pretend he is not here and get on with the day's business. You can't argue with a drunk. Lately I have seen the wisdom of "not engaging", "detatching" and "letting go". I know I do not have a black belt in alanon yet but I am working on it!

It is so disappointing when they are in early recovery because we don't understand yet that there will be many relapses even after they decide to try and get sober.

I was crushed every time, and still am though less so, my qualifier did something I thought would finally be THE CURE and then relapsed. It's the whole "let go of your expecations" that is difficult to apply to life with someone you love and thought you could count on.


Joe said...

I notice when my expectations are of and on someone else, I set myself up for disappointment. They never seem - whether it was the alcoholic or someone else - to measure up to what I had in store for them to do.

As I write this, it is sort of an ephiphany for me.

My expectations of someone else to do or behave in a manner that I want them to, may be - just may be - another form of control. Hmmm. Have to think about this one.

When I have expectations of myself - now there is something I have direct control over. And guess what? I still don't measure up to my own expectations!

Good Saturday everyone

Anonymous said...

I grew up with alcoholism but not in my own house. I watched it rage in my closest friend's house. The fact that my home was also very dysfunctional made her home feel somewhat normal to me. She and I found each other in a sea of madness in the middle of our teenage years.

Now that I know what the disease is and I think back over the decades, I see why she and I cannot deal with anything today. Our childhoods were dark and sad and we filled the days and years and decades with the only thing we knew would kill the pain...alcohol and drugs.

Thankfully, my HP got through recently and led me to Al-Anon. I am a very new member and I must confess not a day goes by that I don't think about my alcoholic friend's children...three boys under the age of 12.

My head is filled with crazy, confusing thoughts as I gratefully focus on remapping my own thought processes using the tools I've been given. Step 1...serenity prayer...step 1...serenity prayer...step 1...I am powerless over alcohol. I accept the things I cannot change.

But honestly nothing has stopped me from thinking..."WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??" I watched her grow up and I know the madness is repeating itself in her home.

I just wish there was some way...some acceptable help the children NOW.

I know I am new to this. Hopefully this will all get easier.


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say i have always felt like I was never loved at all by my family my kids the lovers in my life. I dont know for sure but the little girl i was protected herself all the time at least i thought I now realize that in my personal life I set myself for the most uncomfortable feeling the chaos the unloving environment repeated over and over again in the people i picked to fulful my wanting to be loved. Tonight i experienced a speaker who actually was at a convention and she spoke she was an AA speaker. Awesome She talked about always wanting to be loved and doing things to gain approval and to beloved. I listened and i wanted to cry That person was me. For the first time in my life i thought this isnt want I want I am capable of a loving healthy relationship I am more than willing to be in one. Yet when i look at this relationship I am in now. It is full of deceit,lies, I can never say what i mean and mean what i say without getting mad.
I am tired of stuffing how i feel and i am tired for it coming out all wrong because to this person I cant express it. I want to be with someone who enjoys my company and i enjoy theres. I do at times enjoy this person But it never ever last. There is always the button pushing The insecuritites in him that i have to deal with Not. The more i come to Alanon I am my own person Today i said NO to someone not mean but i just realized if i dont want to do something why should i have to. I am noone keeper noones taxi. So that person that someone talk about the person who talked about wanting love and not having it growing up. Not even remember a happy memory isnt good Yet i do want more for my life. So that to all who have inspired me on this blog. Thanks to a wonderful conventions at the Crown Plaza in Cherry Hill New Jersey. The speakers of AA and Alanon were excellent. Thanks for letting me share.

Anonymous said...

I am trying to avoid repeating the pattern. This is one huge reason I think I should leave my boyfriend, who is a functional alcoholic. From everything I've read, and examples in my own family, it sounds like it will only get more unmanageable as time goes on. I do want to be married and have kids, but I don't want those things at the expense of my sanity or a child's whole upbringing.

One of my best friends is still struggling with the effects of her alcoholic father. He only stopped drinking because he had a stroke and, clearly, cannot drink in the hospital or rehab facility. She doesn't know what he'll do when he gets out. She keeps waiting and hoping for the love he'll never give her, because he is not capable of it. It's terrible to see her hurting, and I keep telling myself, Is this what you want to inflict on a child?

I'm trying to figure out what is keeping me here, then. I guess one thing is I'm having difficulty finding the words to tell him I need to leave. The other is the guilt over leaving someone who is sick. If we say alcohol is a disease, isn't it callous of me to just say, Bye, you're on your own? Though I can accept that the alcoholism is beyond my control and I can't cure it, would I abandon someone with a different disease? I don't know. Maybe it's okay to realize that even if he needs help, maybe I'm not the one who can provide it.

Anonymous said...

I've often wanted to "explain" what it was like.
I've been struggling lately - perhaps you always do - with the concept of honesty; particularly the desire to always give an honest answer. I'm discovering that the honest answer isn't always the appropriate one, that it's OK, in some situations, to compartmentalize yourself a little bit, that it's a waste of energy to try to make people "get" what the al-anon experience and mindset is like - trying to make them get it isn't going to make me feel less isolated, it's going to make me feel more isolated.
So, honesty is important. Conservation of energy is important. Going to the bread store for bread is important - I can't look to the random figures of my life for a sense of belonging; I can look here, in the rooms, in the literature, etc.
This is still a hard one for me.

Thanks everybody for being here.

Anonymous said...

Growing up with alcoholism made me afraid of everything. It left me with anxiety attacks and small things can set off a major bout of emotional pain.
Alanon is helping me relax and live "just for today". It helps me to stop trying to fix, manage, and control and "let go and let God". I don't have any answers, butI have hope.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous with the boyfriend - addressing the question of leaving because of the disease and whether it is callous or not.

My belief, is that if you are unsure or unhappy, that is what will help you to decide what it best for YOU.

Looking out for YOURSELF is not selfish, it is a normal, natural way of acting.

Making YOU subserviant to someone else, is not normal. In our disease of dependency, we tend to put others needs first. With children - we should. Up until we has raised them to be and become self-reliant.

Our job in life is not to take care of other grown-ups unless we are a nurse, doctor or other professional.

Maresie said...

I had tremendous mis spent loyalty towards my ex boyfriend. The issue for me is reciprocity. When I was ill he was not compassionate, caring or loving. When he was ill he expected the world and then some. His expectations had no limits. He'd drop and abandon me in a heart beat.
Eventually I found that I had to take care of myself because I was going nowhere but on a path of destruction with him.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Maresie and anonymous above. This is the kind of thing I need to hear. It's also causing me to think about where these ideas came from, how relationship patterns are passed down through the generations.

Interestingly, this was my horoscope from a few weeks ago:
"A heterosexual man who is seeking a partner often doesn't want a woman to be complete unto herself; he hopes she'll feel inadequate and lost without him. Similarly, many hetero women demand that their men be absolutely dependent on them. Those of the gay persuasion aren't necessarily any different; quite a few also prefer their consorts to be unable to thrive alone. But there are also plenty of people who want their intimate relationships to be an alliance of strong, equal, independent partners. Where do you stand on this issue, Scorpio? It's an ideal time for you to cultivate a longing for a bond in which you are complete unto yourself and your partner is complete unto himself or herself."

Looking at my parents, I guess I had codependency modeled for me rather than an alliance of equals. Part of that may have been generational, women of my mother's age being taught their job was to take care of the man.

I do want someone who is a full-on adult. Not just an "I'm an adult because I hold down a job" adult. I want someone I can count on. I think it shows something that I don't put his name down for an emergency contact (I put my mother's) nor is he the first one I call in a crisis (I call my best girlfriend).

Thanks, everyone.

AWB (Anonymous with boyfriend)

Maresie said...

I do believe I was set up to be with an alcoholic because I grew up in an abusive home. I was set up to over -react, get stuck, have no boundaries (wasn't allowed them I'd be killed if I had them - no was not possible in my family or origin). I know I feel like a fish out of water around people who are not per se dysfunctional. The issue for me is that I can now no longer fit in as well as I could. When I was codependent, I would morph into whatever people wanted. Now I cannot do that anymore. I have limits but that makes finding company and friends difficult because I'd put up with anything before.


Rosalia said...

I didn't realize until the past few months the full effects of growing up in an alcoholic home. I always knew there was something different about me; I never felt that I fit in anywhere, always felt responsible for everything that went wrong, and saw very little good in myself. In my estimation if anyone loved me it was because of the things I had done to "earn" it. I was not a person who deserved love by virture of the fact that I am a human being.

I had trouble making friends and being close to anyone. When I did find someone that I felt loved me, I drowned them in my neediness. I had bouts of depression.

Ultimately I married an alcoholic and had two children. I have finally seen the insidious nature of what alcohol does to families. I only wish I could have learned these lessons before I introduced two children into the mix. But perhaps this is my big test - to take what I have learned and let them see me live in an authentic, consistent manner. I certainly never had that example in my parents, and think it is the ultimate test of me as a parent.

Anonymous said...

Yes, i know the pain of isolating myself from all friends so that they don't realise my husband is an alcoholic. In 21 yrs he has gone back so many times on his promise of not touching any drinks. He lost his high profile career, I migrated to another country away from my family and friends as I was ashamed to face them anymore. I struggled and made my life in a new country and he came with the promise that he will make a fresh start.He started drinking and becoming abusive shortly afterwards. I left him after 18 yrs of marraige but went back after 3 months as he promised, begged that he will be good. He remained good for a shortwhile, before relapsing again into a raving alcoholic..After each episode of beinge drinking , now mostly when I am away from home for work, he begs and asks to be forgiven. But I have nothing left in me give.Last time my teenage child interved and begged me to stay, when I was ready to leave their father. I have become totally paranoid and have no clue what to do. Please advise