Isolation is a term often associated with prisoners or individuals with infectious diseases. However, when connected with the disease of alcoholism, it took on an entirely new meaning for me. I had recently retired from a position that, over many years, gave me lots of friends and a second family. I was always outgoing and enjoyed contact with others. Despite the rewarding assets of the job, though, I was ready to retire and not be restricted by a set schedule. I never could have imagined the upheaval that would occur in our lives shortly after I retired. My husband and I discovered that our daughter was an alcoholic and well on the path to life-threatening consequences by then.
Once she entered rehab for the first time, I stopped communication with almost everyone except for the people there. I was embarrassed to say anything to my family or friends, and I knew our daughter did not want them to find out about her problems, either. My husband and I quit going anywhere except to rehab to see her. In time, she seemed to be getting better, but I was still afraid to leave home just in case there might be a phone call from her or from someone else telling us she had been in an accident or something worse. All this time, I was truly losing my sanity and driving my husband crazy. I was trying to control everything that our daughter did. I told myself that I could get her to stop drinking if she would just listen to me, her father and her husband.
When she went into rehab for the second time, I felt sure it was my fault. I thought if I had pushed harder, she would not have needed to return. However, it proved to be the first step on the road to recovery for me, and I have my daughter to thank for that. She suggested that Al‑Anon might be a good program for me, and she suggested that a book titled How Al‑Anon Works for Family & Friends of Alcoholics (B-22) might explain more about it. I bought a copy and became engrossed in all that it had to say about Al‑Anon and the disease of alcoholism. I started going to an Al‑Anon Family Group and found loving people who understood what I was going through. They listened to me without judgment when I shared my fears and tears, and I listened and learned from their experiences, as well.
I learned in Al‑Anon that I am here for my own recovery and a new understanding of myself. Our daughter is doing well these days with the help of A.A., and our relationship is better than ever. I have learned not to isolate anymore, and I let myself enjoy my life, family and friends.
The Forum, November 2018