Do you feel like a failure?

Welcome to First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery. This is a series of podcasts to discuss some common concerns for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking.

Today Candace, Roger, and Carol will tell us if they ever felt like a failure because they couldn’t control their loved one’s drinking.

How to locate a meeting

2017-09-22T11:59:42+00:00November 22, 2011|Categories: Alateen, Alcoholic Child, Alcoholic Spouse or Partner, Common Concerns|


  1. Berda57 May 2015 at 3:47 pm

    I have not attended an Al-Anon meeting in years. All my choices of partners have been alcoholics. I am also an alcoholic in recovery. Yesterday I had 11 years clean and sober. At 10 years I married an active, using alcoholic. I had thought we were getting along just great, but his controlled drinking became a problem really fast. He began drinking anything and everything.

    I have held a job for 20 years and presently still working and going to school. I also travel for school twice a year for a week at a time and every time I leave, before I get to the next stop, he is drunk already and lies about it. I have quit calling him when I travel because I don’t want to worry about him. Yes, I worry about him all the time.

    I bought a trailer that is paid, not the best but it is home and he smokes and I am fearful he will burn it down with his smoking or cooking while I am away at work or school. Just lately I have begun to kick him out of our place when he is drinking, for my own sanity. But there are times I lay awake and wonder where he is. He has made friends with many of the homeless people now and feels quite comfortable amongst them. In my drinking days, I know that could have very well been me, a homeless person, but I didn’t think I could live like that so I worked really hard at getting sober.

    Neither of us has any little children, thank God. We are both in our 50’s with adult children. I have 4 grandsons, with another grandson on the way. They have never seen their grandma drunk and I certainly do not want to expose them to my husband in one of his stupors.

    He is gone now, funny how he listens to me when I kick him out, but heaven forbid that he go and get some help, not even. He has gone to meetings with me occasionally and once had 3 months, but since then could not put more than a week together. He does fine when I am with him, but once the work week starts, he is off on his binge.

    I have contemplated a divorce several times, but haven’t moved forward to actually filing. I have filled out the papers twice. I believe I am a candidate for this program and will give it a try. I am not as co-dependent as I once was. I no longer look for anyone, cause I know how crazy I got from doing that. Anyways, I feel better having read your posts and listening to a few podcasts that I am ready to get myself to a meeting and help my sanity here. Thanks for allowing me to share.

  2. emerldpink June 2014 at 7:25 pm

    I have attended a few meetings and have not found any real help as a mother of three, and I have one daughter who is an alcoholic. Neither her father nor I have drinking problems, nor do her sisters–all are adults.

    She is a middle-aged adult, beautiful, intelligent and very talented. She can also be a very mean drunk. She burns bridges and makes enemies of people who care about her. I often fear for her well-being and safety.

    My meetings seem to focus on hard-core religion. I don’t know what they call themselves, but this is not a belief I care to embrace. I feel that this type of hard-core religion is an addiction. Since this is classified as a disease, I would think there would be more leanings toward medical and science to help cope with this addiction.

    Rehab world-wide is a failure, so none of this seems to work. I was hoping to understand this disease, not be preached to. For that, I can go to any church. I am not thin-skinned.

  3. DaisyJ January 2014 at 11:00 pm

    I have not been to an Al-Anon meeting and am not sure I can. I work two jobs and it is hard for me to find the time to go, and also my husband gets upset if I am gone too much, which is based entirely on his perception. He did not drink when we got married (20 years ago and a second marriage for both). But he did tell me he thought he was an alcoholic but I did not pay any attention to that because he quit drinking beer and smoking at the same time.

    We used to joke about trying to carry on a conversation with someone that was drunk. His drinking started slowly several years ago. I really don’t know how long ago because every day it feels like this whole thing is new. But I would guess at least 8 years ago. It started out slow and now he drinks every day, and usually by the time I get home from work (6 pm) he is already drunk and many days is in bed by 8 pm.

    He tells me this is not my fault, but our marriage seems to be the only thing that has happened to him. Tonight I did not get supper fixed soon enough before he got too drunk so he didn’t eat and just drank some more before going to bed at 8. I feel like I have to constantly be trying to do things right so he doesn’t get upset, but on the other hand I think I am shutting myself down and not doing things.

    I find it very hard to take care of me, my house. I just have a hard time caring. We do not talk, do anything together. We just live in the same house. He tells me he is not going to quit drinking even when I told him how much I hated it. Too bad for me. He is not violent or physical but he has pushed me and told me to get out of his sight. I am afraid he will fall or push me enough that I may get hurt in the process. I need to find some answers for myself and learn how to handle this situation. Thanks for letting me vent.

  4. VLove September 2013 at 2:15 am

    My mother was an alcoholic and drug user for many years, maybe before I even noticed. I also have three younger brothers and it has impacted our lives for sure. I always hoped for the day that I no longer lived with her. It’s been five years that my brother was murdered, and quickly after we all parted ways.

    It seemed that after my brother’s passing she stopped drinking or using. Although that has changed and I don’t live with her, I feel that I haven’t been able to have a relationship with her. When I’m around her I get those feelings inside of anger, hurt, frustration. I guess I feel that she has never been accountable for anything she put us through. or shows any feelings of remorse.

    I want to not have these ill feelings that I constantly try to avoid. I’m ready to move on. A friend recommended that this might be something that will help. To be continued.

  5. mtnwldflower September 2013 at 10:59 am

    Wow, I am new to Al-Anon. Haven’t been to my first meeting yet and feel already so much better in a sense by reading some comments here online.

    I am a mother of a drug addict and alcoholic. When he was in recovery they labeled him a disrespectful, inconsiderate mama’s boy. And that he is, all of those things. I feel like I have failed him in so many ways.

    Recovery was tough. He didn’t finish. They made him leave because he was jeopardizing others’ recovery, although he was there for 4 months. He made huge changes and progress. They told us not to let him come home–we didn’t listen. We had rules, he would obey and continue his recovery, and things would be different.

    Well, that lasted a month. Then a girl he hung out with prior told him she was pregnant. He still doesn’t know if it is his child. She is a drug and alcohol user, still pregnant. Our life once again has turned upside down with his choices and behavior. He is not going to his AA meetings. He took his first drink last week. Things just seem so desperate.

    So I am going to an Al-Anon meeting tomorrow to find help for myself and my husband.

  6. Barbie August 2013 at 6:34 pm

    God, grant me the serenity,
    To accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can
    And the wisdom to know the difference.

    Keep comin back it works IF YOU WORK IT
    AND…..YOU’RE worth it.

    I love you Al-Anon family group

  7. lola August 2013 at 6:21 pm

    I am the child of an alcoholic and have been in relationships with alcoholics, never a straight man have I found. I felt like a failure because I could not get them to stop alcohol or drugs. I was never enough. But I am learning to change via Al-Anon and my Higher Power. I am beginning to feel better and to rely more fully on my HP.

    I have accomplished much in life and my children have their own set of problems. They too are recovering and growing to love and accept themselves. I am beginning to see that I can only control me and am only responsible for me. I am starting to let go and let God. I am beginning to trust my HP and how he has my back, no matter where I am. Life happens and I will land where I will and whereever that is, my HP will be with me.


  8. Billy November 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I am fighting feeling like a failure, not because I believe I haven’t tried my hardest to be supportive, but because my girlfriend has expressed so.

    Early on, when my girlfriend entered an out-patient program, she and her therapist communicated that it was best for me to focus on taking care of myself while being supportive. In other words, because she was growing, it was important for me to grow as well.

    I moved forward with the advice, because I’m aware of the dangers of co-dependency. And I wanted to grow with her. The last thing I wanted was for us to grow apart.

    On top of seeing a therapist, trying a few Al-Anon meetings, as well as focusing on the interests and hobbies that made me happy, I have been supportive of her–making sure she had rides places, asking her how she’s feeling, how her interactions with therapists and other AA members were going, taking care of things around the house and keeping communicative about how I’m feeling and what’s going on with me as well.

    There will always be ups and downs, and I’ve had them, but for the most part in recent weeks, I’ve felt really positive about the future, as she has made progress and so have I, while keeping the communication open always.

    But recently when I was feeling down and communicated to her that I was just generally having a hard time with everything that was going on, she got angry with me for all the things I wasn’t doing. And in her opinion, not doing enough. My friends and family looking in tell me that I’m doing more than enough, and I really believe so too. But when my best friend and girlfriend, tells me that she sees otherwise, and does so in a way that makes me feel like I’m not doing enough, I feel like a failure.

    She wants me to try the things that help her so much, though I feel like I’ve found other ways that really help me specifically for who I am. She wants me to keep trying Al-Anon meetings, though I haven’t found one that I’ve liked (and I’m definitely open to this). But because she’s found success in going to meetings and such and I’ve found more help being one-on-one with someone (as well as taking care of myself, and staying active with my interests), I’m not doing enough.

    I’m making an appointment with a couples counselor, because I feel like there must be breaks in communication–and she is fully willing to go–but I can’t help but feel like there’s always more and more that I can do. That I shouldn’t be having a hard time if I would just use her resources. And that I’m a failure for having a hard time. I don’t think I’d feel this way if she didn’t communicate it to me.

  9. Jonna October 2012 at 1:11 pm

    My boyfriend of 4-and-half years has been an addict on and off the whole entire time we were dating. This past year has probably been the craziest it ever was with jail, 2 different rehabs and wrecking my car, but in all that time and these years I have stayed with him and supported him through all his issues. Well, after 4 months of staying clean and things looking hopeful and we were finally getting happy, he goes and dumps me.

    You have no idea how angry I am at this point. I started attending Al-Anon meetings and they have helped me to concentrate on myself, but really I am just so devastated and heartbroken. I feel like such a failure and so unwanted after all this time of being by his side when things got bad.

  10. Virginia October 2012 at 8:51 pm

    I feel the same way, only I have been in this marriage for 35 years. My husband has had a drinking problem from the beginning. He did not have an ideal life growing up and I thought I could love him enough. He has never really wanted to touch me and he doesn’t communicate. When we had our last argument, I was extremely upset about his drinking. He simply said that maybe I should just leave.

    I am so lonely. I have held the severity of his drinking in for so long. I have isolated myself, losing all my friends. I don’t go to Al-Anon because a colleague lives across the street from the Al-Anon house and I guess I’m not ready to let out my dirty little secret.

    I went to one meeting and I guess the question is am I going to stay or leave. My husband has made it clear that he is not going to quit or slow down. He is not mean or violent, but has liver damage, still drinks 3-4 six-packs a day, and never touches me or talks to me about anything that he wouldn’t talk to a stranger about. I am lonely.

  11. Jstapearl September 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Yes, I very much feel like a failure. I was/am a single parent raising two teenage boys without any help from their father or the court system, so I was doing the best I could to keep me and the boys off of welfare.

    Unfortunately working multiple jobs took me away from what my boys needed most and that was “my time.”

    I feel I should have forced them in Boy Scouts, to play sports, been a PTA mom, but I didn’t and now I wonder why my boys have turned to drugs for what they say is “happiness.”

    Tell me how at 12 years old, which is the age both of my boys started, there is any worries? They never wanted for one thing, had the best of everything, but yet they complained that they were/are unhappy with me.

    I’ve been going to Al-Anon for just a little while–first because I was court-ordered, and now because I choose to. They’ve taught me that “I did the best with what I had.”

    Also, that I didn’t “Cause” this, I can’t “Cure” this, and I can’t “Control” this disease.

    I live in fear that my boys are gonna take one too many pills, smoke pot that is laced with something deadly. I live in fear of the possibility of having to bury my sons.

    Do I feel like a failure? You bet! Are there things I would have done differently? You bet!

    Would the outcome be the same? Probably so.

  12. Maria M September 2012 at 9:51 am

    I am the daughter, sister, and for 22 years have been the wife of an alcoholic. Everything I ran from as a child, teen, and young woman, became my reality. I have raised three children, stayed strong by the grace and mercy of God, and become a shadow of the woman I was at one time and meant to be.

    My youngest child will be moving and I feel like my sentence in this marriage has been lifted. I find myself fearful for the what-ifs in my near future. I constantly dream of starting my life over. My kids are finally grown and on their own. I am not even remotely intrested in a relationship with anyone! Even though I have been in this marriage for 22 years, loneliness and sadness have been the highlights and most predominate feelings and life that I have survived.

    I want to feel true joy again. I have forgotten what that means. Through prayer, I feel strong at times, yet constantly I check myself and analyze my feelings because I don’t want to make a worse mistake. I find myself cowering in fear, feeling responsible for him and all the what-if scenarios that pop in my head. I want to be strong and free!! Yes, finally free.

    I was at one point in my life, before him and this relationship, a strong, intelligent, hardworking woman, full of joy, fun and confidence. That person has all but disappeared. I am yearning for her return. Enough of surviving or settling and just barely getting by emotionally. I choose and desperately want to be me and simply live! I welcome prayers.

  13. Sandra June 2012 at 6:44 am

    I feel like a failure because I have not been able to help my elderly father stop drinking. He has fallen multiple times as a result and not one of us kids wants to help him anymore. But I am the oldest and female so I feel guilty if I don’t. It has reached the breaking point now and I need to find help for me.

  14. Stephanie June 2012 at 8:19 am

    The effects of alcoholism had really worn me down after 15 years of marriage to an alcoholic. I was tired, discouraged, insecure, and discontent. He’d gone to treatment centers and AA off and on, and yet our home and marriage were unhappy. I held on to hope that things would be okay because I loved him, we had good jobs, and went to church.

    When my husband went through one more crisis, my family and friends said horrible things to me. It seemed everyone blamed me for my circumstances, and pressured me to leave my husband. They loved me, and couldn’t stand to see me hurting. They didn’t know I felt rejected and abandoned when they gave advice.

    I felt completely alone during the most horrifying situation. Self-doubt set in, and I no longer even trusted my own thoughts and feelings. It was such a dark experience; I wanted to die.

    My counselor repeated my need for self-care. My husband suggested I go to Al-Anon. In Al-Anon, I found a family that knew how to share their experience, strength, and hope. They didn’t give advice.

    I am learning how to base my life on the 12 Steps and Traditions. I am learning how to pray the Serenity Prayer. I am gaining more courage to change myself. I am seeing in Al-Anon that “The family situation is bound to improve as we apply the Al-Anon principles,” is coming true in my life. I no longer feel like a failure.

  15. Mary March 2012 at 11:04 am

    I feel like a failure because my husband is always telling me his drinking is my fault. I am a pretty strong person, but after 14 years of this sometimes it really gets to me. He drinks a case a day, easy, on his off days. Maybe about 4 before work. He works at night. I want to go to a meeting, but I am afraid. And not sure if it is for me. He has a terrible temper whether he is drunk or not. He would not like me going anyway. Anyway I will keep trying to read books and things and keep praying. Thanks.

  16. brenda February 2012 at 12:03 am

    I am not a failure. We only fail when we quit trying!

    When our oldest son had a bag of pot, and the scales to weigh and sell it, in his truck one night, was passed out in his friend’s house who lived on our property, and my husband was nearly two thousand miles away working, I felt like a failure, but I had to take action. I had to operate on tough love! I did not fail because I did not quit!

    When our middle son went off the deep end over his divorce and ended up on drugs, moved away and had no contact with us for almost two years, I felt like a failure–but God, HP, brought me through and brought our “prodigal” back home, and I knew I was not a failure.

    When our youngest son ended up on Meth, as well as our soon to be ex-daughter-in-law, and we had to take over the care of our grandson, once again I felt like a failure, but guess what? I did not quit trying, and I did not fail.

    I have been reminded over and over by my children that I was the best mother anyone could have and I was not responsible for their mistakes. Now once more our youngest son has remarried, has a three-year-old and is presently incarcerated because after about four years being drug-free, he ended back on Meth, is charged with larceny, probation violation, and other charges. Our new daughter-in-law, our three-year-old grandson’s mother, has just been released from the women’s correctional facility and they live in an apartment in our backyard. I am just thankful that they are all alive.

    None of us are failures; we are all still trying and one day at a time we are succeeding–praise God from whom all blessings flow, our HP here below, and may He bless you all! Thank you for letting me speak.

  17. murphy February 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Survivor, I used to think of myself as. I made it through a 10-year marriage with an alcoholic who was a 2-tour Vietnam vet who suffered with PTSD.

    I thought I was a survivor until our daughter, 32, just was charged with her 2nd DUI. As she got closer to her court date, she met someone 2 weeks ago, declared she was in love. She left everything–her toothbrush, clothes, everything, and went off with this person.

    My heart is breaking. I am searching for ways to cope. You see, the cold, hard reality is my daughter is an alcoholic and I am her enabler. I am determined to stop. You see, she was my drug of choice.

    I am grateful for the great outreach that Al-Anon does. I have just ordered your book, “One Day At a Time,” and look forward to joining one of your online communities. I must take care of my self. I will take care of myself!

  18. David February 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Soy hijo de un alcoholico seco y hermano de un alcoholico seco. Mi problema ahora es la depresion. Ahora admito que soy incapaz ante la depresion y que mi vida se ha vuelto ingobernable.

    Yo no puedo solo hoy. Necesito la ayuda de una reunion de Al Anon. escribir aqui es una gran herramienta porque creo que es una reunion virtual. Y es muy eficaz.

    solo por hoy sere feliz.

    gracias por leerme.

  19. JB January 2012 at 10:48 pm

    I didn’t feel like a failure–I knew I was a failure. My husband was gone all the time drinking, and he would be at home if I made him happy. So I was a failure as a wife.

    I tried to lie to cover up his drinking, but I wasn’t good at it and folks knew, so again I failed. My kids were having problems in school and I couldn’t help them, so I was a failure as a mother. I now know I did the best that I could for the situation I was in and my kids are doing fine.

    It was just my expectations on how life should have been 100% perfect and no one’s life is. There is always something lacking, but that is not my failure.

  20. cathrynew December 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Every day I cry because I know my son deserved a better mom. He’s doin’ pretty good in recovery at a sober living environment. He has been there a year. Yet I am still paying for his stay there. He has been unable to find employment.

    I believe he has some cognitive impairment from the alcohol and I know he gets stubborn around doing things that I might approve of, yet he is 28 years old and I can’t understand his behavior–unless I just babied him too much. Why can’t he make better progress in looking after his financial and some social needs?

    He’s not truly a mama’s boy. He just for some reason can’t move forward and I blame myself. It’s also hard for me to move forward. When he tried going to the JC for a semester, I was fine letting him go and do his own thing and I do mine, but he just couldn’t get the grades to retain his grant and now he’s looking for a job.

    He’s getting his teeth repaired from the drink that ruined him. Yet I keep having to remind him to put pressure on Medi-CAL or he won’t get the caps finished. I’m tired and weary and feel that if I don’t remind him that it will be my fault that he doesn’t move ahead. Yet, I think he doesn’t do some of those things because I am telling him to.

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