Ever since I was a child, I had a ringside seat to my alcoholic/addict’s chaotic behavior. I heard a lot of loud, angry words and cursing. It was not unusual for me to see a fist or open hand coming at me out of nowhere, only to be blamed for making the abuser hurt me. I was belittled to tears, and I felt unacceptable and unwanted. No one ever came to my defense. My crazy family life just did not make sense.

As a result, I felt that I was a burden and a disappointment to those around me. I also felt unworthy of any gift, compliment, or anything good. I was blamed for all that was wrong in our home. I knew well the physical and emotional pain and the mental, verbal, and sexual abuse—all of which left me feeling isolated. If anyone complimented me, I was quickly reminded how ugly I was. I had long ago shut down my feelings in order to mask the pain of rejection. I had also become my worst critic, and soon any happy-go-lucky feelings within me died. The caregivers in my life were full of anger and frustration, which often made me wonder, when is my real family coming for me?

I thought getting married would fill the emptiness and loneliness. However, nothing changed in my new life except that I soon had three children. Thankfully, though, I was introduced to Al‑Anon by a trusted friend. The people at that first meeting welcomed me with open arms while I cried a veil of tears. I heard others share how they were working on themselves to get over the damage the alcoholic had left behind. In Al‑Anon, I finally understood why my family of origin was so chaotic and full of anger and frustration.

The warm, caring hugs started to heal the fractured self I had tried to hide most of my life. I began working on rebuilding my self-worth and choosing healthier friendships. I gave myself permission to physically let go of those who continued to abuse and blame me for their own bad choices. I learned that I can’t change them, but I can change me. I’m so blessed to have found where I do belong by sharing my encouragement, strength, and hope in Al‑Anon.

By Daisy P., California

The Forum, March 2019