After work, I rode home to the 20th-floor apartment I shared with my alcoholic partner. It faces a main avenue of our city. When I got off at the bus stop in front of our building, I looked up at the windows to see what was awaiting me. If there were no lights on, he was either out or asleep. If I saw one light, he probably was in the kitchen preparing a nice meal. But if all the lights were on, that meant he was as brightly lit up as the flat.
Those bus rides were a source of anxiety, because I never knew whether my evening would bring solitude, a pleasant dinner, or alcoholic chaos. Over time, the discomfort began to creep into my afternoons as I started worrying long before finishing at my job. Eventually, I was anxious from the moment I walked into the office and a wreck by quitting time.
Once I began attending Al‑Anon meetings, I learned not to suffer in advance of things that haven’t happened yet. I began to see that worrying about the future robbed me of days and weeks, but never changed the outcome. Instead, if I focused on “Just for Today” and not tomorrow or next week, I could bring myself back to my own life in the present.
One day, I decided that when I got off the bus, I wouldn’t look up at all. Instead, I would think about any purchases I needed to make or if I wanted to take a walk and think about what had happened that day. I decided not to anticipate anything at home until I put my key in the door, since whatever it was would still be waiting for me then. Several times a week, I attended Al‑Anon meetings before going home, which reinforced my determination to enjoy myself.
My new outlook began to filter into my days, as I slowly freed myself from concern about what another person was doing in my absence. It also spread to my other dealings with the alcoholic, because I realized that he was in the grip of a disease that he couldn’t control, despite his efforts.
That all happened a long time ago. The alcoholic and I parted ways, and I bear him no resentment. However, to this day, I sometimes remind myself not to “look up” at what someone else is doing that might, or might not, disturb or complicate my life. I’m too busy seeing what’s down here on the ground, right in front of me, right now.
By Tim F., New York
The Forum, May 2021
Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.
Your story has helped me so much. Thank you.
This is so well written! Thank you for sharing a part of your journey. I needed these beautiful reminders.
I just got this app and it’s already so helpful. Thanks all for comments. It’s a beautiful day today and I’m going to do my best to enjoy it!
Tried and true the things we have all done on our journey to sanity. The program gives us the tools to overcome and thrive. No longer must we simply survive. What took us so long? Our higher power opened our eyes to the addiction as it is a disease, and how we must heal ourselves as we have fallen into addiction, of loving our addict. Great share it made it easy to see what I had done to avoid this unpleasantness and let it go on. Grateful to have this from WSO.
Love this! ❤️
This was a great read
The anticipation part resonates with me. I mean, your whole story does, but I’m currently in the anticipation and how can I avoid or fix it phase. Actually currently in the ‘I must try a new way’ phase.
Thank you for sharing, your story reminds me to be present.
I love this. Just coming back to Al-Anon. The last paragraph really hit home. I’ve been busy being irritated by what others are doing that doesn’t suit my way of thinking. I realize that by doing that, I’m robbing myself of serenity.
Thank you! I worry about what will be ruined or damaged at home, if the dogs are ok, if he’s hurt himself. It can be debilitating. I’m trying to “look down” and fill my needs a little more every day.
Thank you for sharing this story. Though it’s not alcohol, other people decisions are affecting me & I’M letting them bother me. Thank you again for the reminder.
Thank you for sharing. I was an Al-Anon member until 25 yrs ago and just returned. Your story reminds me how important it is that I have returned.