I had been attending Al‑Anon for over a decade when my relationship with my father imploded. I started thinking of my father as an alcoholic, even though I never saw him drunk or passed out. My recognition of his evening and weekend drinking patterns reminded me that it doesn’t matter when, what, or how much the alcoholic drinks. As a newcomer or as a member, I only need to identify that someone’s drinking bothers me.
So, I added Al‑Anon adult children meetings to my usual Al‑Anon meetings. I went to a therapist and to a family recovery program at a treatment facility. I read our Conference Approved Literature about adult children of alcoholics. My old approach wasn’t working. So, I relearned the lesson that there are no short cuts or fast tracks to recovery. It is a process to walk through the basics of the program again, and it took courage to face the past and additional defects within myself.
I thought I found a healing comfort zone in my family history. Then, I learned my deceased father’s deep secret—I have a half-sister. I try to think of her and her family as a gift from both my father and my Higher Power. It has led me to a refresher course in the basics of Al‑Anon. It isn’t easy to do more footwork, so I can rediscover the positive feelings and love I have for my father. I am open about it at meetings. I share my feelings about my new family with my Sponsor and close Al‑Anon friends. I find renewed comfort in two of our books—From Survival to Recovery: Growing Up in an Alcoholic Home (B-21) and Hope for Today (B-27). I also find comfort in discussions with someone I sponsor. She, too, is an adult child of an alcoholic. I can share how the program works for me, which helps me to help myself and others to recover from the impact of alcoholism on my life.
This month has a holiday focused on love. There are many teenagers and adult children of alcoholics who feel unloved and alone. I read many painful stories that are posted on social media pages. The very least I can do is refer them to the Al‑Anon website meeting locator at al‑anon.org and to offer Al‑Anon’s message of hope and healing to them.
By Claire R., Associate Director—Public Outreach Professionals
The Forum, February 2020