I was not affected by alcoholism, even though I grew up in it. At least, that is what I thought at the time. When my mom went into rehab during my senior year of high school, I thought joyfully, “problem solved! Thank goodness that is over!”

But it wasn’t over. Twenty years later, my relationship with my 12-year-old daughter was awful. She was unhappy. I did everything I could to fix her life for her: hovering and telling her what to do and what to think. But the more I tried to help, the worse things got.

After one of our nightly arguments, I stormed off into my own bedroom. I sat on my bed, totally frustrated. I was alone in the room. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I heard myself saying: “It’s just like living with a drunk!” I hadn’t even known I was thinking that thought. Nevertheless, it was true, and I knew it as soon as I heard myself say it.

I picked up the phone in the bedroom and called my older brother. He had mentioned going to Al‑Anon meetings for adult children of alcoholics. I asked him if the meetings would help me. He said, “Yes.” Then he also said that I should go to the meetings for myself, not to fix my daughter. I did not understand why he would say that to me any more than I understood why my relationship with my daughter felt like living with a drunk, even though neither of us drank.

I went to my first meeting that week. My journey into understanding the family disease of alcoholism began. I will always be grateful for the moment of clarity I had that night sitting alone in my bedroom, and for the love, support, and hope I continue to receive in Al‑Anon.

By Eileen F., Kansas

The Forum, February 2021

Feel free to reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.