A counselor sees relief for families

Published by at 12:05 pm under Professionals

Welcome to “First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery” from Al-Anon Family Groups.  This podcast will discuss a professional’s concern for families who have been affected by a loved one’s drinking.

Christine McKaskle is Clinical Coordinator of the Youth Program at Cumberland Heights Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center in Nashville, Tennessee.  She has written an article in “Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2009,” entitled, “From ‘Family Week’ to family recovery.”

How to locate a meeting

23 comments

23 comments on “A counselor sees relief for families”

  1. Robert says:

    My wife and I have been married for 27 years and have two teenage boys, the oldest has cerebral palsy. My wife has been a drinker since I met her in her teen years. About 8 years ago at my urging she signed herself into a local hospital in an effort to “dry out”.

    After several relapses she is now sober for nearly 4 years. I am proud of her and I certainly believed then that the relationship I had always wanted with her would now be within reach. How wrong I was!

    Outside of her job, she devotes her time to AA and all of her new friends in her life. She talks on the phone frequently with them, she has lunch with them, posts on Facebook, and attends several meetings each week. Our relationship is empty. There is no intimacy, brief meaningless conversations, and for me there is a general sense of living as roommates.

    The problem I am experiencing is that I feel alone in my life. I want to share daily with the person that should be the most important in my life. I want to be intimate, even if it means just taking a walk and holding hands. I have become resentful that I have endured through all of these years only to have her turn to others now that she is in recovery.

    I am not naive and I understand the importance of her recovery network. However, there needs to be a balance, and in that balance there needs to be a place for me along with the component of the very reasons we began our relationship years ago, our love, care and compassion for one another.

  2. Violet says:

    It’s 4:30 AM. It is yet another night I cannot sleep. I am sick over my “dry alcoholic” ex fiance who broke off this relationship last week over what seemed to be nothing. He would pick fights when there weren’t any, he would hold grudges, and when he got angry, his anger would escalate to the point of blowing up, as if I had just cheated on him with 5 of his friends right in front of him.

    This is the type of anger I’d have to endure over the most unimportant things. So, after many months of attempting different ways to deal with his behavior, I finally fought back and he broke everything off. I am devastated and beside myself. This man, who loved me more than I’ve ever been loved only a week before he broke everything off, now treats me as if I am the worst person he’s ever known, as if I commited the worst sin against him. I am beside myself.

    My now “ex” has been sober for 13 years, recovering from a crack and alcohol addiction and no one would ever know it. He is a wonderfully charming and smart man who seems to have his stuff together. Then, he meets me, supposedly his dream girl, love of his life, successful, beautiful, kind, patient, and understanding. Everything is great. Then he starts to get mad at everything. It seemed to have happened over night. He just dumped me. Just like that. THis 40-year-old man acting like he’s 20, and doesn’t seem to look back. He’s apathetic and I’m in complete misery, crying all the time and without sleep.

    I started to research recovering alcoholic behavior and there’s not much, but his behavior seems to be indicative of a drunk, but with more conviction…? It’s confusing. I want to blame the addiction and not him for the way he is treating me, his denial, his apathy etc. I am thinking about attending Al-Anon meetings, whether we stay apart or not.

  3. ali says:

    I too am married to a now recovering alcohlic. I am so afraid that all of the years of abuse of alcohol have killed my feelings for him. Now that he’s sober, I just don’t know if I can get over it. It was hell for many years–10 of 16 years, at least. DFACS called to my house twice. No DUI, he had those before we married. He did drink .36 and higher with my daughter in the car, just before he quit.

    I have so much resentment and have even started to notice other men, and think that I could be alone or have a relationship without the addiction. I don’t want to go to any meetings. I am very resentful that I have to even consider this. I am just over it being all about him. I am sick of doing things alone.

    I am hurt that his family didn’t believe me about how drunk he was staying during the day while working. Now it hurts me to look at them, knowing they didn’t believe me til he told them.

    I am sick of NO physical relationship for most of our marriage.

    Just sharing this to hopefully help someone and maybe even help myself by getting some of this out, as I decide if I want to stay.

  4. B says:

    I’m writing here because I don’t know where to even start. I’m 23 years old, still live at home with my parents because I’m a medicated, slowly recovering, schizophrenic. My father has been a functional alcoholic for quite a few years now. He never missed work or seemed to have any other problems other than passing out from drinking too much and being an embarrassment.

    It’s steadily getting worse. He started spending most of the family income on liquor, using credit cards and money my parents don’t have, borrowing money from me for “groceries,” started hiding it more, finding excuses to go buy more beer–“Oh, I have to run to the store.” It’s escalated into him waking up after passing out and then getting in the car to drive to get more beer.

    The last few weeks have hit the peak. He’s now verbally abusive, driving drunk, slamming things around. He won’t talk to anyone, has missed over a week of work, and is claiming he’s quitting his job. He won’t talk to anyone about his reasons. He just sits in the basement and drinks himself into unconsciousness.

    I’m starting to get really scared at this point. I’m going through a bit of a hard time myself due to my condition, and he’s just getting worse and worse and scarier and scarier. He’s never laid a hand on my mother, my brother or me, but I’m afraid he may, as I’ve never seen him this angry.

    Of course, he doesn’t admit he has a problem, and won’t talk to anyone so we can understand why he’s so angry. As well, he’s medicated for depression, which he isn’t supposed to mix with alcohol to begin with–I’m sure that’s just making things worse.

    I’m writing here, because I don’t know where to turn anymore. I don’t know where to start helping him. It’s the outright displays of anger and the driving while intoxicated that scare me the most. What if he kills someone because he’s too gone to realize he shouldn’t drive? I try hiding the keys or taking the car out so he can’t get to it, but he just gets angry and scary to where I feel threatend if I didn’t give him the keys. I’ve looked into getting one of those ignition interlock devices, but they’re so expensive, and I’m afraid of the repercussions if I call the police and tell them he’s driving under the influence.

    My mother admits he has a problem, but she’s so passive about it all–same with my brother. They both work and are away from the house most of the time, so I’m the one who has to deal with all of this. Checking him every few hours to see if he’s still breathing, gathering all my pets into my bedroom in case he lashes out on them, hiding away myself in case he gets physical and watching his every move to make sure he doesn’t burn the house down while deciding to cook while intoxiated.

    I’ve reached the end of my rope and I don’t even know where to start looking for help. I’m wondering if an Al-Anon meeting could help me with that. I’m so very lost right now.

  5. Jo says:

    I just found this site today. I too am with a functional alcoholic. He won’t admit it of course because it also has not not affected his work. He’s going for his Masters Degree and gets all A’s on papers he writes while sitting in front of the computer with a glass of alcohol. He supposedly sees a counselor, but I don’t think he has told her he has a drinking problem.

    Like everyone has said, I’m done. I’m just afraid of the aftermath. When we divorce, and I know it’s just a matter of time for me to tell him to get out because I no longer trust him in anything he does or says, my fear is his visitation with my kids. Son (ADHD and ODD) is almost 8 and my daughter just turned 5. He has not gotten a DUI yet. So how do I protect them?

  6. danielle says:

    I am 29, going to school full time, have 3 kids and an addict for a husband, who is now in a therapeutic community–also known as rehab, just a lot longer. We have been together about 15 years–that would be since I was 14 years old. We have done everything together in life, including getting high and drunk together. Only difference is I stopped and he did not, and in fact continued to use drugs that are very bad and addicting.

    He is very emotionally abusive and has in the past been physically abusive as well. I love him dearly as he is a great father and husband when he is not using. There is a little twist to my story, being Carl has a mental illness that he also has to live with. He is bipolar. He has just been diagnosed, but I always knew he had it. I have never been to an Al-Anon meeting, but everyone including his counselor has asked me to go. I am going to start this week, I hope.

  7. Heather says:

    It has been comforting to me to read all of your posts. At this point in time I am typing this from my car while we are on vacation, because I am just trying to make sense of all of this. My husband of almost 5 years is an alcoholic. He is what is called a functional alcoholic who didn’t have a problem because he never missed work or failed on his responsibilities. That was of course until he got his second DUI on Monday, the night of my birthday.

    The sad thing is that I have been in such denial about it for the sake of my two kids and myself that I would put his drinking behind me. There was nothing I could do about it. I also would dismiss suspicions of drinking and driving based on my trust for him. That night we were heading back from dinner at my parents in separate cars. I had no idea he had been drinking and he got pulled over and arrested, for me to go the next day with my two kids and bail him out. My ultimatum is that he stops drinking or I am gone, which I have no other choice at this point. Unless it is deferred, he gets about 2 months jail time and I am a stay at home mom. Luckily I just got my degree.

    He has been sober for almost a week with the apparent resolve to stay that way. My concern now is my roller coaster of emotions that he does not understand and neither do I sometimes. I feel that just like cheating, he cheated on me with breaking my trust and putting our family in this position. I want to support him and encourage his recovery, but sadly am skeptical and am afraid of putting myself out there again.

    I know I can’t control him but I find myself mad that he doesn’t show more emotion. I have been to Al-Anon before and it helped and I will be going back. This recovery is just as much for me as it is for him. It is just hard feeling like you are in a marriage waiting for the ball to drop.

  8. marianna says:

    I really don’t know where to begin. I can say that I was raised with 2 great parents and had a pretty good childhood. My husband is an addict, and then recovery and addiction–just so many cycles. I just know that I am tired. I’ve been with him for 9 years and dealing with his addiction for about 4 years on and off. My life before him wasn’t bad. I always had money and paid my bills, and always had a job. Now I spend most of my time worrying is he coming home, or I’m expecting a phone call. He has already crashed 3 of my cars and now we are working on 1 car. It just seems like I always have to pay the price.

    I have to say he does work every day and pays the bills, but also spends a lot and tells me it is his money. Right now I feel like I have no money to be able to do anything, or even a car during the day. Since I’ve been living in this small town that I hate so much, I have had 4 jobs and they just don’t seem to work out because of him. Then he has the nerve to tell me to get a job, but all the responsiblity is on me.

    I have always been a strong person and able to do things alone and never had to depend on anybody for help. But now I feel lost. I feel like I’m living for my son and that’s what keeps me going. One look at my son and he just lights up my day. But in the inside I feel not so good about myself. I just don’t want to be around anybody or even talk to anyone. So once again, I’m alone.

    So much has happened since we’ve been married. I’m very angry. The thing is, he is a great person when sober–when he isn’t, he is like a dead body just hanging around. We have a child together, and I never leave him with my husband because I just don’t trust him. The past 2 weeks I realized that I’m not his mother, or even a babysitter. I’m his wife and I can’t help him even though I love him. He needs to help himself and all I can do is hope for the best for him.

    I feel like I could have a better life somewhere else with my son. I had so many chances to pack and leave, but I just don’t know what’s stopping me. He just started to go to his meetings again, but I just don’t know. He hasn’t learned anything from his mistakes already. Well, first thing is I just got a job again and I hope it works out. My mom will be watching my son so I don’t have to worry.

    I’m writing this letter and I feel like I’m having a real hard time explaining my pain. I just wish I can find someone that I can trust and have a freindship to talk to. I found a meeting that I will be attending but I can’t go until next Saturday. I have a wedding to go to this weekend. I just need to get myself and my life back the way it used to be. I’m sorry if my letter goes in circles. I just don’t know anymore.

  9. anita says:

    Thank you everyone for your postings, for your heartfelt sharing of what it is like living with an alcoholic or drug addict in the thick of addiction. That is your experience, and sharing your experience is an important part of the Al-Anon program.

    I came to Al-Anon a while back . . . my dearly loved alcoholic qualifier was finally in a treatment program . . . after 25 years of ever-increasing alcoholic drinking, binging, verbal abuse. Just before my alcoholic sought treatment, the disease accelerated into raging physical abuse. My alcoholic started out as loving, funny and kind, the kind of person I hoped to spend a lifetime with and love every minute of it. But that was not to be my reality. The reason I began to read this section is because of what my counselor said during the family week . . . and what Christine McKaskle wrote and talked about from ‘Family Week to Family Recovery.’ That’s what I want, Family Recovery for all my family, including me!

    You see, I learned in my Family Week (during the treatment program) that I didn’t cause my alcoholic to drink, I can’t cure my alcoholic from this horrible addiction, and I could NOT, no matter how hard I tried, ever be able to control the disease of alcoholism in another person. However, I could, by my actions and denial of this disease, contribute to it. Stunned as I was by this revelation, the next words from my family counselor blew me away. I was told that this disease of alcoholism was cunning, powerful, baffling, relentless, and absolutely deadly . . . and that this disease was a family disease, and as a family member, I had ‘caught’ my side of the disease (trying to control an uncontrollable situation) and I was (most likely) much sicker than my beloved alcoholic, who was, at this point, in pretty bad shape. I was advised to get to an Al-Anon meeting (90 in 90 days, or as many as I could and as quickly as I could) to begin my own healing and recovery. It never even occurred to me that I could be the ‘sicker’ one from trying to control my alcoholic’s disease.

    I want to survive to see my children safely to adulthood and get to know any future grandchildren that might come along someday. Alcohol had already taken so much from me and my family, I was determined not to let it take more from us, so I went to my first Al-Anon meeting; furious, angry, confused, resentful, hurting and devastated. I heard laughter in my first meeting, saw others cry, but most people were happy to be at the meeting; which confused me terribly. Somehow I knew that I belonged, my ears longed to hear that heartfelt laughter again. It was a safe place to be. They hugged me and welcomed me warmly.

    Over the years, my alcoholic’s drinking level soared in both quantity and quality. It took more and more alcohol and stronger drinks to get him to a place of ‘comfort.’ What was ‘comfort’ for him was intolerable to me. My alcoholic showed less and less and interest in me, my concerns, and the concerns of our growing family. It was horrible, lonely and frustrating. The consuming of alcohol took over my alcoholic’s thoughts, emotions, and became my alcoholic’s only motivation. My story parallels so many parts of each of your stories.

    My story has a beginning, middle, and an end in that now and I have true happiness and fulfillment in my life. My beginning is my experience; my life before Al-Anon – living with active alcoholism escalating in my family. My middle is my strength (which I learned through Al-Anon, little by little, one day at a time, by applying the ‘Just for Today’s’ the Serenity Prayer and the Al-Anon slogans as needed, and by using the 12 steps and the 12 traditions, reading Al-Anon literature daily, and listening to the experience, strength and hope of other Al-Anon members as they share at Al-Anon meetings). My end is my hope (H.O.P.E. Happy Our Program Exists) that I have today. I can honestly say that I am truly happy. I find joy every day and I am truly living each and every day fully and completely. Today my heart is full of gratitude. This program says that ‘in Al-Anon/Alateen we discover that no situation is really hopeless and that it is possible for us to find contentment, and even happiness, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not’ and ‘as we learn to place our problem in its true perspective, we find it loses it’s power to dominate our thoughts and our lives.’ (from This is Al-Anon, [P-32], pages 1 and 2).

    To those of you who are fearful of attending your first Al-Anon meeting, please find courage somewhere. Every Al-Anon present at your first Al-Anon meeting was once in your shoes — trying to find their courage to come to their first meeting. They understand where you are and are willing to offer you the same loving and gentle support they offered me. I heard in one of my meetings that courage is fear that has said its prayers. You will hear, over the course of an Al-Anon meeting, many points and ideas others have used to solve their problems. Take those ideas that seem to ‘fit’ your situation and leave the rest. There is help, support, and hope for each of you in Al-Anon.

    Before I came to Al-Anon, I just wanted my alcoholic to be sober. That was the ‘solution’ to my ‘problem,’ or so I thought. I was irritable and unreasonable in dealing with my alcoholic and the subsequent alcoholic behavior that always followed excessive alcohol consumption. The more my alcoholic drank, the crazier I became! Does my alcoholic’s behavior still drive me crazy? Why yes, actually, I can still go from sane to crazy in a split second in my brain; but now I see my behavior choices clearly, and before I act out badly (say or do something I am likely to regret), I make a considered and sane decision that reflects my true values. I see clearly now when I am powerless and where change is needed in myself or in my attitude.

    Alcohol addiction is non-discriminating and seeps into the lives of every career, lifestyle, race, gender, economic status, intelligence level, religion and age group. There is no group of people that are immune to this devastating disease.

    Many meetings offer free or very low cost babysitting during the meetings, check your local meeting list. My local meeting list indicates which meetings have babysitting available. I have been to several meetings when a young mother did bring along an infant, and everyone at the meeting was thrilled to have an infant attend, especially knowing how important it was for the mother to have a safe place to come for her recovery, and for her to know that her baby was safe. Many of us have been in your shoes and understand that most difficult dilemma. Most meeting lists also have a phone contact you could use to learn about your local area protocol regarding babysitting and bringing infants to meetings. There are also online meetings; where you can ‘have a meeting’ without leaving your home.

    In many ways, my love for my alcoholic is deeper, more generous, forgiving, and unconditional now that I am in recovery. That said, my love is also tempered with balance, boundaries, and trust in my Higher Power to see me through any difficulty I face. Now I see clearly when my past behavior was really crazy and insane and now have the tools to make things right. My attitude continues to change as I accept my role in changing myself to be the best person I can be. That is the gift I now give my family, a sane and healthier me. That is the gift that Al-Anon has given me.

    Welcome to Al-Anon, I’m glad you wrote about your experience here.

    Respectfully and with deep gratitude.

  10. plc says:

    It saddens me to be looking for help online once again. But it is also a sigh of relief to see that I am not alone. I feel angry and sad. I used to have a great life before I got together with my now husband. We are great together but he is an alcoholic. And he and everyone knows it. I have spent all of our 6 years together (2 married) trying to get him to seek help. Nothing seems to work. Not even the birth of our daugher 12 weeks ago.

    He is sick, selfish and all about him on his bad days. On the good days we are the best there is. But again after trying to fix things for so long I now I feel like I am dead as I have neglected all aspects of my life. And now my life is all about my daughter.

    Our relationship is grand on the good days. And horrible on the bad drinking days. Some days I yell and scream and try to get him to seek help. I have often thrown bags at him and told him to simply leave as I am fed up with fighting and getting nowhere. He would simply go to his parents house (who travel often) and drink their wine and crash for a day or more; then come home and say he is sorry and had thought things through and I was right.

    I have gotten into a lot of debt due to his legal fees (fighting a guilty DUI charge), misc parking tickets etc. and more or less paying all of the bills on time. Now I am using overdraft to pay our rent month to month. He is a smart educated lawyer and makes over $90k a year. I thought I would never have to worry about money! Wow, was I wrong. Every spare cent he makes goes to the bar.

    We could have bought a house by now, travelled, saved! -like all of our friends that make half that amount. There are numerous collection agencies that call daily, and now we ignore the calls as there is no spare money to pay them a cent.

    Every attempt I’ve made at going out alone (karate, pre-natal yoga (!), movies with girlfriends) I’d come home and find him drunk or passed out or in full denial. I am afraid to leave the house with him alone. I cannot even go to get my hair cut.

    I am wishing for my old life back. Or a life. Or a life that is normal with our new baby and new marriage!

    It seems like every big fight I have with my husband and his drinking leads to this online soul searching. I cannot talk to anyone in my family about this. I am sure that they know but are too polite. His family is well aware and we’ve talked about it for over 3 years now. We had to move to the city in which his parents live -as I thought it would be a great help. It was an ok choice. Now I find it hard to open up to them, as I see that his mother is also an alcoholic!

    I would love to attend a meeting but, again, I wish that he would visit the doctor and start AA meetings himself. I am smart and well aware of what is going on.

    We are new parents now and everyone we know is expecting him to change overnight. It was tough with my mom staying here for 3 weeks. He actually came home one night after 10 pm drunk. But he is very good at hiding it. I know his characteristics, both sober and drunk. Luckily, she didn’t. But I’m sure she knew. Why else would a new father be out until 10 pm?

    Last Friday he was out and today he was out. Nothing is changing. He says that I am ‘crazy’ whenever we start fighting. It’s not fair that I have to live with a partner that lies, and spends all of our money on drinks for himself.

    We have recently been blessed with a baby that we tried for years to have. To me she is my everything. My blessing. I hoped that she would make him see the light. But so far there is only minor change. Which is great! But still not enough for me. I guess all partners wish for an overnight transformation.

    I sit here and wonder, is it all right to bring a 12-week-old-baby to meetings? I am unable to leave her with anyone in his family as his mother is a drinker and all his father does is point the finger at his son’s/my husband’s poor choices! Yet, he lives in denial himself. I cannot believe it!

    Two years ago I drove my husband to the hospital for stitches after he fell into our glass kitchen table and sliced his arm open. Everyone asked about his scar, I said it was an accident. Which it was. But it also happened after he left me home all night until 2 am and came stumbling in.

    That same summer he got caught DUI. Which I was actually thankful for. Now he is unable to drive due to being suspended. The fine is over $5,000 if he is caught, yet now he steals the car in the morning to buy cigarettes. I am so afraid that he will get caught driving that I have now hidden the keys and my wallet. I have also changed all passwords to my bank accounts. Yet he has still charged up my credit card as his are all maxed out and in collections.

    My family lives 3,000 kms away. All I want to do is run home to them with my new baby. Life isn’t fair for me and now her. I don’t want a toxic home for her. She deserves better. And I am unable to work now as I am taking care of her. If I go to work to get on my feet again, my mother-in-law will have to take care of her, yet I am afraid of her drinking too.

    My brother and sister-in-law want nothing to do with them and now us. Only now I am starting to see why. I’ve only been married for 2 years. But with him for a total of 6. All of his friends know about the problem, yet I am tired of hearing: ‘How is he doing?’ They pass a lot of judgement. It also angers him. I simply don’t drink anymore. As a ‘good example’.

    I just want things to be normal like I once thought they were. I wish I could have a sip! Or go out to dinner and have a glass of expensive wine! What a feeling that used to be! Or champagne!

    I miss having a clear head. Or a dusty old liquor cabinet like most of my friends have. All I find are empty cans and bottles hidden in drawers, under the deck, in the garage, under the couch. Left to be found? I’m not sure. And a ton of lies.

    Why do most lawyers drink? All of his lawyer friends do. Today he asked me why he shouldn’t be allowed to go out, as he claimed it’s part of his job to socialize.

    I thought he might want to come home to his newborn. Or his wife. It scares me to read about children growing up with an alcoholic. My daughter deserves a sober father.

    I hope the storm clears. And I hope this sheds some light on what I’ve been experiencing. It feels nice to tell my tale here. Thanks for reading.

  11. Jodi says:

    Today I sit in a hotel room, miles from my home town, with my three young children. Monday marked the 3rd time in 12 months that my husband surfaced from a weeklong drug binge, this one landing him in the hopital. I have read many of your posts and I am relating to those in which I have been an enabler.

    I have tried to control the situation, tried to cure it, sympathized with my husband when he finally had clarity and remorse, and welcomed him back home. Each time he relapsed, I thought he had finally hit rock bottom; however, I called in sick for him, filed his FML, basically gave him a slap on the wrist. He did not lose his job, he did not lose his family, but each time, I lost a little bit of myself. It was easier to forgive than deal with the possiblity of raising 3 kids alone, finding work to support us and putting my youngest in daycare. It was easier because when sober and present, my husband is a good father and good provider, intelligent and successful. Surely, he would figure this out and come to his senses if I just gave it time.

    Well, time has slowly killed ME. It has taken happiness from my life. It has taken away that sense of security and serenity that one aspires to when they build a home and a family. I really hope that I can find a way to attend an Al-Anon meeting. With three kids (one an infant) and NO family nearby, it is difficult to find someone I can trust to watch my children. So I continue to browse these posts, hoping to find some semblance of self-preservation.

  12. Angie says:

    I can relate to most of this. My parents were alcoholics, and our family. I drank in my younger years for the dancing and fun. But usually just Friday, maybe Saturday. My husband is a drunk. I hear what someone was saying, “Step over the body”. I detach myself from my husband when he is drinking. I’ve called the cops, and I’ve let the people in our building call the cops. Now he is their problem. His family used to be possesive, so I sent him there when he was drunk. I’ve taken him to restaurants when we were out and about, and let the management call the police. I don’t want him to be my problem anymore.

    If I tried to leave, he would be like my ex, stalk me and embarrass me for months. Maybe I don’t love him anymore. He has said he should go to AA a few times, but it didn’t happen. I’m just letting my life run its course.

  13. Angela A. says:

    A counselor first suggested that I attend Al-Anon. I really didn’t get it, and I even said something along the lines of: “HE’S got the problem! Why do I need to go to meetings?” I was angry and resentful and I just couldn’t get the focus off of HIM….if only he’d do this, if only he wouldn’t do that, if only he’d behave–on and on I railed. I am so very grateful that the counselor persisted.

    Finally, after admitting that I’d literally tried everything else, I gave in and went to an Al-Anon meeting. I had in my mind that it wasn’t for me and it wouldn’t work and I was wasting time–a million negative thoughts before I even arrived! What a miracle took place in that room on that rainy Friday night.

    The people there welcomed me and went about their meeting. They listened when I wanted to talk a little. They offered their experience, strength, and hope and they encouraged me to come back. They seemed sincere. They didn’t judge and they didn’t tell me what I should or should not do. They were present to me in a calm, serene way. All of this appealed to me and I found myself leaving the meeting feeling a little bit better. During the week I looked forward to going back to the meeting.

    That was a long, long time ago. I have been to many meetings since then and through the principles of the Al-Anon program, the healing presence of the people in the meetings, the help of sponsors, and an ever deepening trust in a Power greater than myself, I have changed. My changing has created changes within my family — some hoped for and anticipated changes, and some not so much — and one of the greatest changes is where I choose to put my focus today. Today I choose to focus on myself — my health, my recovery, my feelings. I choose to focus on the positive and stay in the solution. My life is much better today, thanks to a persistent counselor, the Al-Anon program, and some small kernel of willingness within myself that got me to that first meeting. And for all of this, I am grateful!

  14. Olga says:

    I married a heroin addict when I was 18 yrs old. Although my violent alcoholic died when I was 20 yrs old, I didn’t know I WAS SICK ALSO. I was part of the family disease of alcoholism. After 40 yrs of living since that decision, I have learned many things in Al-Anon:

    1. I couldn’t cure; nor did I cause, nor could I conrol my father, my addicted brother (who died at 46 yrs), or my two addicted husbands.

    2. I learned to emotionally detach from the husbands/father/brother/etc.

    3. I have the right to my own life and happiness and serenity.

    4. Al-Anon gives me the tools if I want to use the program to grow and develop.

    5. This program is FOR US, not the addicted person.

    6. I can learn to live one day at a time.

    7. With the help of a Higher Power/God and Al-Anon, I am becoming healthy mentally and spiritually.

    8. Al-Anon members are my family all over the world; I don’t have to be alone.

    9. I will not be judged. It is safe to go to meetings – what is said is anonymous.

    10. I got a Sponsor who helps me on a more personal level to study the Steps, Traditions, Concepts of the program. She has become the healthy, loving mom I didn’t have. My mother was a good, devoted mother but an enabler and I learned to do the same thing.

    11. l learned to forgive, beginning with myself.

    I COULD WRITE SO MUCH MORE, BUT I WANT TO ENCOURAGE ALL OF YOU TO GIVE YOURSELF THE OPPORTUNITY TO HEAL AND GROW. THIS PROGRAM IS A LIFELINE – A LIFESAVER. I AM HEALTHY, HAPPY AND STILL GROWING AND LEARNING. YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIVE IN FEAR, ANXIETY AND CRISIS/DESPERATION.

    THIS LIFE IS GOOD AND I AM HUMBLED BY ALL THOSE WHO HAVE HELPED ME TO GET TO A NEW PLACE BY SHARING THEIR EXPERIENCE, STRENGTH AND HOPE.

    MANY BLESSINGS TO EACH OF YOU.

  15. DONNA says:

    I have been with an active alcoholic for a year and as your stories go, mine is the same–the tries–the frustration–the crying–the hurts–the pains. My boy friend has been gone today on a 25-day drunk, and yes the financial burdens are great. The pain is great, but what I have found is you still love them even if you leave them.

    I have isolated myself, cried, screamed, changed my cell phone number and house number. He’s suicidal and calls me to tell me what he is gonna do. I shut my phones off and answering machine way down, but he still calls. I have to listen and then it’s another tailspin for me.

    The emotional attachment is unbelievable–he left and I still worry, I have even called the police many times and have a harrasement order on him–omg–but it continues. I have not been to Al-Anon yet, but have done much reading. I need a meeting. I need to help myself.

    Thanks for listening and thank you for this site and thank you for writing MY story.

  16. mandi says:

    Wow, do I feel everybody’s pain! My dad died over 3 years ago. He told me at 11 years old that he would die from drinking. It was a decision he made that he was miserable & in so much pain that he was ready 2 go. I’m 27 now & I’m married 2 an addict. It’s all starting over. I can’t help! I can’t make the pain stop & I don’t know how 2 help! I’m so scared, not only 4 myself but 4 my 2-year-old son. I don’t want him 2 go thru what I went thru! I just want 2 b happy again! Good luck 2 evry1 that loves some1 in pain! I tell myself, “Mind over matter! Be strong & not carry it on.”

  17. Milli says:

    I am a recovering codependent. My boyfriend is a recovering alcoholic and gambler.

    I remember as long ago I implored my boyfriend’s brother: please, don’t send him money. Don’t support his illnesses. His comment was: if I don’t send money he will become homeless!

    Since we stopped supporting him with money he is recovering.

    I don’t say it worked quickly, and what I felt was a nightmare. I was extremely scared. I sweat and I trembled.

    The solution was in God’s hands and the support of Al-Anon. Thanks to them!

  18. jackie says:

    My son is an alcoholic and drug addict. We have paid for many treatment programs for him. I am a recovering alcoholic but powerless over my son’s situatuon. He called today. He is homeless and needs money for a hotel.

  19. JC says:

    I just read Patty’s comments and I began to cry. It is a mirror of my own life with the exception that I am not retirement age, under 40, and I have no children. I have been with a man for 8 years who has a serious drinking problem and I have endured verbal abuse and threats of physical for 4 of those 8 years. I did not realize how deep the problem was until we moved in together.

    Now I see it day in and day out. Even when he’s sober he is obsessing about drinking, or any little thing will set him off and he will reply “I have to drink.” He drinks untill he is unconscious. He is often violent when he is drunk. I am terrified that he is developing alcoholic psychosis and that one day he will freak out and I will suffer an attack from him that I might not recover from.

    I love this man. In fact he is the only man that I have ever truly loved with all my heart, and I still do. I have decided that I need to get out of my current living situation and be on my own, and to find help for myself. But the catch is that I do love him and I don’t want to abandon him or to end our relationship. I want to help him.

    I do believe that he is a good man at heart. He is the son of an alcoholic and he was severely abused as child, and that I think he is the way he is because of that. I think he desires to be a better person, but is afraid of change. I don’t know if I should even bother with trying to care for him and about him. I don’t know if I should just move on or try to help him understand. I don’t know if I would just be wasting my time and continuing to be a victim.

  20. Patty says:

    Just like Starr 419, I have never been to a meeting. I also feel the same way. It’s been 25 long years with this disease, and I feel that I have been an enabler and have not been tough enough on myself or him. I’ve told him countless times, “Watch your drinking. Slow it down. You’ve had enough.” But I have never given him the ultimate choice – me or his beer. But the last few months I’ve told him I’m done and that I can’t handle it anymore. Now he wants help. The emotional scars are unbelieveable. The nasty words, they will never go away. I don’t trust him and the worst part is that neither do our children. I’m just so glad they are here to support me.

    They are both adults now and they say, “Mom, why do you put up with Dad’s crap? You’ve threatened to leave him, then you stay. Start thinking about yourself.” My friends and co-workers say the same thing, “How much more can you take?” It certainly is a lonely life, no friends to visit, no family visits, no going out for a nice meal. I can’t even take him to my work Christmas party cause he makes a jerk out of himself and embarrasses me.

    I am one of the most happy-go-lucky types and I am so miserable and lonely. I’m sick of crying myself to sleep. I don’t want him to touch me, so then I think I am being a rotten wife. So since I won’t let him touch me, the first thing out of his mouth is, “Are you having an affair?” I’ve had a very successful career and am now on my second career. If I divorce him, he will get half of my retirement and I know he will drink it away. When do the tear ducts dry up? Oh, my God. I’m sad, confused, and not sure what to do.

  21. Starr419 says:

    I was told by an old friend of my husband’s, who is now a sponsor, to “step over the body.” My husband was sober for 12 years, and now between two rehabilitation centers and a depression clinic I am dealing with continuous relaspes myself.

    I refuse to “get happy” when I think he will “get better,” because I am only let down again. I’m tired of crying, worrying, and feeling lonely and sad. I’m afraid of losing my house. Thank God my son is grown and out of the house. Not that this would be anything new to him, but he doesn’t need to see it anymore.

    I have absolutely no faith at this point that he will ever stop drinking and be like the rest of his family and drink himself to death. I have never been to an Al-Anon meeting. I have checked into it and know where to go. I just can’t bring myself to it and then I say to myself, “Why do I need to go? Why can’t I just get rid of the problem?” It’s just not that easy, is it?

  22. Misti says:

    How do families, especially spouses, deal with a loved one’s consistent relapsing? My husband was sober for 89 days and then relapsed. Was sober 30 days, then relapsed. Then 2 weeks, and relapsed. Then a week–and relapsed.

    I’ve learned to love and separate myself. I know that I can love him, but I can live a separate life. But I”m concerned with the financial ramifications. Without his salary, we cannot maintain.

    I guess I’m really struggling today because he relapsed last night–causing me to miss my meeting, and my time for recovery. If I hadn’t had the gut feeling that something was wrong, he would have picked up my daughter from the sitter and driven with her. As well as babysat her. Thank the Lord above, I went home prior to my meeting.

  23. Catherine says:

    I thought this was very good for those of us who are just looking to attend their first meeting. She was quite objective, which was good for me.

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