The miracle of recovery or is it discovery in Al-Anon Family Groups

The miracle of recovery or is it discovery in Al-Anon Family Groups
by Joan G, Auckland

I was married to the man of my dreams, after a disastrous first marriage, I met and fell in love with an amazing man.

He was everything I always wanted in a husband, but despite that, I was not happy. I thought it was me (which was partly true) but then someone suggested that he may be an alcoholic. I didn’t want to hear that! I couldn’t bear it. So I went to psychotherapy, hypnotherapy and personal growth courses but to no avail - I was still not happy. I then went to an A & D counsellor to see if I could get him sober, of course not informing him of the fact. She only needed to tell me what to do and I could sort it myself. I sorted everyone else in the family so why not him. I couldn’t understand why I should go there and all I could do was cry and ask why. I was too afraid to ask for intervention, and when I finally spoke to my husband, he said he didn’t need help but I did. The Counsellor said to go to Al-Anon Family Groups and I said, “why I’m not the problem”. I just didn’t understand, I had no knowledge or way of understanding something this peculiar.

Some time passed and I read a self help book and came to see that I was, inadvertently helping him to drink, I was unknowingly making things worse with my attitude of martyrdom and over dependence on him and the kids. It shocked me to see that in writing. I had a phone number for Al-Anon Family Groups that had been in my bag for 12 months, I phoned and asked was the group still going. A tired voice on the other end of the phone said yes. I went to my first meeting that week in my lunch hour.

I didn’t want my husband to know what I was doing, I didn’t want the jibes and fun poked at me yet again for doing something for myself. I had to be in the group for 6 weeks before I could order a book and then had to wait another month for it to arrive, and when it did I devoured my ODAT (daily reflections booklet) like a hungry lion. The book went to work with me and I read often.

I continued with the group for a while, and one day after a particularly difficult weekend I found myself “saying stop drinking or I’ll leave.” He said ‘so leave’. I was stunned. I knew he loved me but didn’t know that he loved alcohol more. That made me sad and angry all at once, that some-thing could be more important to him than me. Sadly it was.

A short time after that our marriage ended. I know in my heart it was the right thing to do. It was hard as I loved him so much. But it was right to leave. Friends were shocked waiting for him to come to his senses to get me back, but he never did. I knew he was in the grips of something far larger than anything I could love him out of.

I continued with Al-Anon Family Groups on an off for a few years and met someone else, who we found later was also an alcoholic. All I could do was laugh. I knew I had a programme, and I knew what I needed to do to look after me when he chose to become sober. The next years were very hard for us both, but the Al-Anon Family Group programme and regular attendance at meetings helped. Each week I felt stronger and more able to cope with the fun and games that alcoholics, sober or not, play. We are still together some 20 years down the line. I believe this is due to my going to Al-Anon Family Groups and to working my programme with my sponsor. I went into service to get away from the madness at home and as a result I grew and became better in myself and the beneficial effect spilled over into our marriage.

I swapped my ‘that’s it I’m out of here’ thinking for ‘that’s it, you’re out of here’, and finally came to think God sort this out because I can’t. This is what happened when I prayed for detachment from his behaviour, its easier to live with him these days and have some understanding of just how affected he still is by the disease even though he is no longer drinking.

My relationship with my children improved as well, I was no longer dabbling in their lives and telling them what to do. I gained detachment there and was able to see them grow and mature as young men should. Their lives have not been easy being exposed to the disease of alcoholism, but they are living happy and reasonably stable lives these days. And importantly I don’t need to tell them how to do it.

The programme has given me strength, dignity and purpose, I know who I am and what I want in life, I’m not supremely confident, but I’m growing, and willing to continue to do so. Living in my own skin is more comfortable these days. Life still presents problems, and when it does I turn to the 36 principles of this programme, my sponsor and my meeting for help and inspiration.

I still have growing to do, lots of lessons to learn, and I am grateful I have a programme to live my daily life by, long may it continue.