Growing up in an alcoholic home, I lived amidst instability and insecurity daily. Unlike children who grew up being told they were loved “to the moon and back,” or “this much” by someone with arms spread wide, I would ask my mother, “Do you love me today?” only to be answered with a shrug of her shoulders and, “Eh, same as usual.” She died when I was 15, and I never got a different answer.
When my son’s drinking grew out of control, I retaliated with all the fury that had gone unexpressed in my childhood. I lectured, punished, and bargained with God. I searched my son’s room; snooped in his drawers, closet, and car; rifled his pockets; tested him; and tried to smell his breath when he came close. I cajoled, belittled, and threatened. He lied, stole, and retreated to his room. He was angry and shut me out completely. It seemed I’d lost him. Only when I realized I was losing myself did things begin to change.
In Al‑Anon, I learned to start taking care of myself and loving myself. Progress was slow at first because I thought I was unlovable. I felt like a failed daughter and mother. But as I became more aware of how my behaviors transferred my pain to my son, I began to change, to pull back and let him have the dignity and self-determination he is entitled to.
Recently, my son told me he’d tried heroin several months ago. He waited for my response. I waited for my Higher Power. Instead of being angry or upset or hurt, I looked into his eyes and saw my little boy, my son. I heard myself say, “Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for trusting me. I love you; I always have, and I always will.”
Before Al‑Anon, I never would have been able to hear that what he was really saying was, “Do you love me today?”
By Deirdre B., New York
The Forum, November 2022
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.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience, strength and hope! I cried as I read this, as it resonated with me and my struggles with my son. Before Al-Anon, I too tried to do the “right” thing, or find the “right” words to reach him. I will forever be grateful to have found this wonderful program! As I learned that my son has a disease, and that it was not that I was a bad mom, was a huge weight off of my shoulders. Learning to let go of trying to control him has bettered our relationship by leaps… Read more »
The disfunction of alcohol–I felt unimportant, neglected, and raised alone or by my sister. I am about to turn 60 and still going around the same mountain of indecision, fear and self-doubt. Thank you for writing your story. For me, it had an impact.
That was a beautiful story. I lost my daughter to this dreadful disease. Say what you mean to say.
Wow that was my story too. The disfunction of alcohol I felt unimportant-neglected and raised alone or by my sister. Not many life skills – Al-Anon has taught me a lot about using different tools. I am raising my grandchildren and need to take care of myself and give them better tapes for their heads than I was given. Thanks for writing your story.
and I love you
I cried and cried when I read this, my parents – father chronic alcoholic, depressed mother whose father was also an alcoholic, older sister who stole and hurt me, never once told me they loved me. I asked my mother one time if she thought I was pretty and she said “passable”…my French teacher had asked me to pose in front of the class so they could draw me – I refused. It was my youngest son, whom I practiced Al-Anon on – he was only 2 when I got into Al-Anon after leaving his alcoholic father who cheated on… Read more »