When a mother eagle builds her nest, her foundational materials are large branches and sharp thorns. She then lines it with layers of feathers, fur, and moss to make it comfortable and safe for her eggs and, subsequently, eaglets. Over time, as they grow, she starts to remove the soft lining, exposing them to the sharp thorns. The nest becomes uncomfortable to the point where the eaglets have had enough and are ready to leave and fly on their own. The mother eagle instinctively knows that the longer the nest remains comfortable, the longer the eaglets will stay and not go out on their own.
In Al‑Anon, I learned that the more I did to protect my loved one and attempt to fix situations, the more comfortable I made the “nest.” Ultimately, because of my enabling, I was making matters worse in the long run. I was not allowing my loved one the dignity to find his own recovery. At the same time, I found a certain level of comfort for myself by attempting to protect and control. Needless to say, this comfort gave me a false sense of reality.
Through my Al‑Anon recovery over time, I gained awareness of many things. I understood that I did not cause, could not control, and could not cure the disease of alcoholism. I could, however, contribute to it through my enabling out of love and fear. I grew to understand the importance of Step One: that I am powerless over the disease of alcoholism, as well as over people, places, things, and situations.
Once I got out of my loved one’s way, I was able to focus more on myself and less on him, allowing him to take responsibility for himself when he was willing and able. Just like the mother eagle, I grew to understand that my loved one had to move forward on his own, and I became willing to detach with love.
By Mike S., Florida
The Forum, January 2024
Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.