Even in the Face of Anger

When the Chairperson announced that the topic at the Saturday morning Al‑Anon meeting was control, I sat back in my chair and told myself that I didn’t need to share or even pay attention because control wasn’t my problem. Hadn’t I always acquiesced to my husband’s every wish? I never tried to control him. Whatever he wanted was all right with me. I had quit wanting anything years ago. It just wasn’t worth the effort in my marriage because anytime I tried to ask for what I wanted or even talked about a book I was reading or a funny story at work, my husband would either start screaming at me, or he would belittle and ridicule me for my feelings.

But for a reason I couldn’t understand, early in that meeting—the meeting I didn’t have to pay any attention to—I started crying uncontrollably. A friend was sitting next to me and kept putting tissues in my hand because I was crying so hard. In the last few minutes before the meeting ended, I finally shared. Through tears, I said that I didn’t understand. I said that I never tried to control my husband. He could always do whatever he wanted. I never tried to make him do anything. I was so confused!

After the meeting, another friend came over to hug me and said something that finally helped me clarify my confusion. She said that she used to try to quiet everybody in her house so that her adult alcoholic son wouldn’t drink. In Al‑Anon she realized how futile this was. Her son was going to drink no matter how peaceful the house was because he was an alcoholic. I finally came to understand that I had been doing the same thing in my marriage—trying to control my husband’s anger by always agreeing with him and never wanting anything for myself. I continued to do this, even though his drinking and his anger had gotten worse as the years went by. I slowly began to stop living in fear of how my husband would react. I couldn’t control my husband’s anger any more than I could control his drinking. I learned to do what was right for me.

By Mary M., Idaho

The Forum, October 2018

2018-09-24T16:36:45+00:00September 24, 2018|Categories: Alcoholic Spouse or Partner, The Forum|


  1. Margie October 2018 at 12:48 pm

    My comment is a little different. When we give Kleenex to a crying person, the message is “stop crying”. That’s not the message that we want to give. It’s OK to cry!

  2. Nancy D. October 2018 at 9:40 pm

    Thank you for helping me realize that I have been trying to protect my husband from getting hurt feelings by not standing up for myself. I thought I’d been detaching with love. I have put my needs on hold to keep him happy. I now see that I learned this behavior with my mother. She would always cry to me about my father’s abusive behavior when I was a child and after I’d grown up, moved out, and married an alcoholic myself. My emotions were secondary to her perpetually hurt feelings. If I confronted her about this she would cry, which stopped from standing up for me. Long learned behavior is as firm and unyielding as fire-hardened pottery. But topics like control presented in a new way like this put small fractures in the integrity of my hard outer shell.

  3. Lesley October 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I do exactly the same things but nothing seems to help. I am going to my very first meeting tonight …. I have no other options left to try. The stories i have read this morning have given me hope.
    Lesley H. (Auckland, New Zealand)

  4. Denise October 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Love the perspective you shared. It reminded me of the work I still have to do. I still “let sleeping dogs lie” and “walk on eggshells”, try to be invisible and avoid confrontation. But I do it less and have learned that confrontation is part of life. The difference is whether I react or respond and that I don’t forget who my HP is.

  5. OSM September 2018 at 9:00 am

    You can look up meetings at https://al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings.

  6. Lu Anne September 2018 at 4:18 am

    Where’s the meeting?

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