Putting the Focus Where It Belongs

When I came to Al‑Anon, I thought the purpose was to focus on the alcoholic. After all, I thought that he was the one with the problems, the one making my life unbearable. I never thought that I had any control over making myself happy or having any peace of mind. My solution at the time was to either stay and put up with it or leave. Since I was not able to support myself financially, my only choice was to stay. However, since coming to Al‑Anon, I have slowly started to realize that only I could make the changes in my life that would determine how happy I would be. To do that, I had to put my entire focus on myself and to look within myself to find hidden strengths I didn’t know I had.

For most of my adult life, I found it so easy to blame other people, rather than myself. However, focusing on myself means to live my own life and let others live theirs. I have learned to take my own inventory, let others take theirs and mind my own business. I was so busy focusing on my daughter with her problems and my husband with his problems that I neglected to spend any time on me with my problems. I learned in Al‑Anon to put myself first.

None of these changes has happened overnight. I had to begin by learning to like myself and to do things that make me happy. I had to rid myself of resentments, fears and self-pity and replace them with hope, serenity and joy. I realized that I am entitled to feel better about myself and enjoy all the pleasures life has to offer, like planting flowers from seeds and watching them grow or taking an evening course to improve my knowledge. I am learning not to put all my eggs in one basket by depending on the alcoholic to provide me with everything. In order to have a richer, more meaningful life, I must provide for myself. I am also learning to be honest with myself and not use my recovery as an excuse to justify my efforts to change other people. Trying to do so only gets me in trouble. Instead, I will promptly admit such mistakes and put my energy back where it belongs—on myself.

By Bonnie B., Ontario


2018-04-27T09:17:07+00:00April 27, 2018|Categories: Alcoholic Spouse or Partner, The Forum|


  1. Mary September 2018 at 6:04 pm

    I understand that I am suppose to learn how to be happy with myself and go out and do things that make me happy. Part of me gets that, but I also want to be happy in my marriage! I want to be married and love my husband. I want a connection with my husband and want us to do things together and have fun. Unfortunately fun for him includes drinking. We have been married 28 years and are now empty nesters; therefore I am very lonely. He has always been a drinker, but it has gotten worse. He grew up with alcohol in the home while I did not. I drink a little, but not much. So he thinks it is my values that is wrong, the way I was raised. Everyone drinks like he does, so there is nothing wrong with it. He recognizes he has a problem but thinks he can control it-he will not go to AA. However we have gone to a counselor separately for years and her expertise is in alcoholism. She thinks he won’t quit unless something bad happens. His idea of controlling it is as long as he is not “drunk” there is nothing wrong with his drinking. However he drinks EVERY DAY!! He leaves to go to our boating club where the guys sit around and talk and drink EVERY DAY after 5pm. I have watched his choice of beverage change from lower alcohol content beers to the highest % of IPA. He used to drink wine a lot but recognized it was a weakness and quit drinking wine. Recently he has switched to vodka because someone told him it had fewer calories. I hate vodka more than anything!! He also pours a lot in his giant Tervis cup. He can usually “control” it a week or two after a really drunk night. Whenever he is in a party type atmosphere, forget it-he will be drunk. I keep praying he will stop. He has no idea how to live a life without drinking since he has drunk his whole adult life (and teenage years). He is not a mean drunk, so I am grateful for that. I feel like I should leave and give him an ultimatum. But I’m afraid it won’t work and he is a man that holds lots of resentment. I do love him, and don’t want to be single at 55! Sometimes I think I need to get over it and try to enjoy being with him even if he is drinking. That is very hard though! I don’t want to live like this! I plan on trying Al-Anon again. I tried it years ago and didn’t like the group. There is different group I plan on trying. Thank you for letting me tell my story to those who understand!

  2. Dawn C. July 2018 at 1:53 pm

    I went to my first Al-Anon meeting yesterday. My husband has been a functioning alcoholic for the 22 years we’ve married. It’s been an ongoing struggle for me. I always thought I could browbeat him into, at the very least, cut back enough to not make such a fool of himself (and me) when he was drunk. It never worked. Now that we are empty nesters, it seems to be worse and quite honestly I don’t really want to live like this anymore. So I hide. I’ve canceled social events, I’ve opted out of other monthly couple groups because he always gets drunk at them. I told our kids recently that enough was enough, that he was going to go to rehab or I was leaving! Only, I didn’t know how to make that happen. I didn’t have the tools. I realized I need to learn about this disease of his and my role in it. Low and behold! It’s not MY disease. I learned that on my first visit. Whoa. So now I need to quit focusing on HIM? This is gonna be tough. I have fretted over him for so long, I’m sure I have no idea how to start looking for serenity for myself. But I need to. We have no financial future because of him and I’ve already learned I need to rely on me, not him. I kind of like the sound of that. I do believe I will continue to go to Al-Anon. I cried through the whole meeting. I couldn’t believe other people have been through what I am going through. Thank you for letting me share. This is gonna take a lot of work, but it’s nice to know you guys are here.

  3. Rebecca July 2018 at 7:49 pm

    Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories and feelings. Like many of you, I have been surrounded by my husband’s alcohol dependency for many years and all that comes with that. We are currently on a trial separation hoping and waiting for things to improve. Sadly, he still doesn’t recognise there is a problem and his frustration at the situation is followed by intense outbursts of verbal abuse. We have two young children and he’s been my soulmate for 25 years, so it’s hard to watch the deterioration not only in him, but in our family and our life dreams. I know in my head it’s time to say goodbye (although I’m keen to understand how so many of you are able to ‘make it work’), but the heart wants differently.

  4. Samantha July 2018 at 11:09 pm

    This is helpful. I am looking into going to a meeting, but need to find one that works with my schedule while being there for my 6 year old son. My husband is finishing up his time in rehab and I am anxious about his return home. I have been very angry about what his addiction has done to our family. I don’t know if I can forgive.

  5. Lisa C July 2018 at 7:05 am

    I just went to my first meeting tonight and I will definitely be going again. Working on me for once ! Thank you

  6. Anonymous June 2018 at 7:00 pm

    I have been in Al-Anon 11 years and I still struggle with keep the focus on myself. My family is estranged after my mother’s death, she was the one who helped us or glue. Ironically or not she was in Al-Anon for many years and the slogans and principles have seeped into our lives thou she is not here to give us support. I believe she is still there for me, defending my case in heaven.

    In Al-Anon, I have found that Rome was not built in a day nor did my problems or attitudes develop in a day, it took years. I listen to others shares and they don’t fix my problems but they give me insight that I am not unique or alone and I my situation can get better as others do. I have learned that doing nothing is sometimes the best thing, i find it easier to concentrate on others’ problems but if they did not ask for my help it does not help or in most cases is not heard by the other person. Currently, I am working on my own problems, and what needs to be done for me in my life. Self care is a strange concept and sounds silly to me but needs to be a priority. Not only does it help me, but other people respect me more when they hear or see that I am taking care of myself. People are attracted to healthy, well adjusted people that are living their lives to the fullest. When I do the next right thing for myself, often I am doing the next right thing to available to help other people. I have to be my own wing man, stay with what needs to be done for me until it is accomplished and stop trying to distract myself by worrying about other people’s problems unless asked. I can not help anyone until I help myself and if I want to give my best to help others I must first have my life in order, bills paid, eat healthy meals, do exercises, go to regular doctors’ appointments even the dentist. I must learn to speak up, let people know what I need but understand that a lot is not my business.

    Well Just for today, I will try to put my focus where it belongs on me.

  7. Lisa B. June 2018 at 3:18 am

    No matter how hard I work on improving myself it’s still very maddening knowing my husband is happy drinking while I’m sitting in the same house and feeling alone as his drinking takes the place of time spent with me. I feel like his beer is his mistress. I know I need Al-Anon for my loneliness and anger but I’m also saddened at the thought it’s to help me except I’ll never have the part of him I want, his companionship. It’s like giving up. It also makes it hard for me to change my life to be focused around me when he’s sitting in front of me, as it’s a constant reminder that I’m married and his drinking is more important then me. It would be better if I could be single, yet I also can’t afford to leave. Very confusing and frustrating.

  8. Teresa May 2018 at 2:50 pm

    I am only getting into Al-Anon. My ex-husband (in which we live together now) is the one with the addictive behavior. We have been together off and on for almost 37 years. And he recently went to get help and is doing good. But he is very short tempered and is always telling me I don’t understand. So I am here to try and get an understanding.

  9. Auj k. May 2018 at 7:31 pm

    I’m not understanding that I need to work a program. I love myself and do that which is good for myself & others.
    The hard part for me is that I don’t trust my estranged husband at this point & time. He’s been in rehab for 11 days, don’t know if I can reconcile.

  10. Mary V. May 2018 at 11:42 am

    I have gone to meetings and they don’t help me. Yes I know what I have to do and yes I haven’t done it because I am afraid and listening to others doesn’t change my situation.

  11. Katy B. May 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks for reminding me

  12. Jacqueline M. May 2018 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I plan on going to my first meeting this week. I am looking forward to having support from others to be able to focus my life around me and not my husband’s disease.

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