Family gatherings bring back my childhood holiday-time anxieties

Having grown up in an alcoholic home, I carry a good deal of baggage. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and other family gatherings involved drinking and my parents’ alcohol-fueled behavior. As a child, I felt frightened and confused.

I continue to experience anxiety during family celebrations, even though my parents are deceased and I am now in my senior years. Much of the old fear that I had about my parents’ out-of-control drinking is now transferred onto my adult children.

I have been attending two Al‑Anon meetings a week for the past six years. Utilizing the program’s principles has become essential to my living a peaceful and serene life. Nonetheless, the old anxiety returned as I planned a lengthy holiday visit to see my adult children.

Prior to my leaving home, I shared my feelings with my home group, as well as stating my plan of action to remain focused on Al‑Anon principles. Group members shared their experience, strength, and hope giving me support and encouragement. By going on-line, I printed a list of meetings in the town that I was visiting. My One Day at a Time (B-6) daily readings kept me mindful of my choice to live according to the Steps and Traditions. The Serenity Prayer and slogans helped me daily to mind my own business. I frequently used “Think” and “Let Go and Let God.”

Some of my anticipated concerns regarding family drinking did occur; however, I observed that my reactions have changed. I repeated the first three Steps to myself often, recognizing that I am powerless over the choices family members make. The old anxiety is the “unmanageable” part of my life. Moving on to Step Two, I turned my life over to my Higher Power and asked Him to restore me to sanity. Recalling the first three Steps gave me a sense of peace and comfort. In addition, I did attend a meeting, which was like food for my soul.

Overall, I was surprised that I was able to focus on gratitude and the joy of spending time with my grandchildren. Utilizing the tools of the program gave me the ability to emphasize the positives and let go of the situations that I cannot control. What a blessing I receive from working the Al‑Anon program.

By Nathalie D., Georgia
The Forum, December 2011

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