My son’s alcoholism challenged my whole identity

I was in my Al‑Anon home group meeting yesterday when I looked over at a newcomer and saw my previous pain on another woman’s face. I remembered the overwhelming heartache, like nothing I had ever felt before, as I realized—my beautiful baby boy is an alcoholic.

Before Al‑Anon, nothing else was as much a priority as keeping my son alive. In my mind, he could die at any time from this disease, and a good mom would do anything to help her child. I was embarrassed that people would think I had done something wrong in raising my son. I begged, cried, and obsessed about finding help for him and his drinking.

This included behaviors I had long ago abandoned, because as a child I was not allowed to express opinions and have feelings. I had also grown up in a home tainted by this disease. As an adult, I knew that was the wrong way to raise a family. I thought I knew the exact answers on how to have a successful, loving family.  Much of my thinking was based on a television show that I had watched as a child to escape my reality.

My son’s addiction challenged my whole identity. I remember begging my Higher Power for a book that would tell me exactly what to do. I would do it exactly that way, no matter how grueling and tiresome.

I was willing to lose my home to send him to rehabilitation. I neglected my husband and my other three children. My best friend at the time abruptly stopped talking to me. My husband wanted our son out of the home. Even my son wanted out of the home and went so far as to try to get social services to remove him.

The worst reality was that my son resented me. His resentment and dislike sent me back to the rooms of Al‑Anon. I had been there years before because of the effects of my husband’s alcoholism. It just never occurred to me to go because of my child.

I now have my own life, with no time to immerse myself in others’ lives. I learned through working the Steps to recognize my feelings, without stifling them to the point they begin to own me. I remember doing everything as fast as possible to get as much done as possible and feel as little as possible. I thought I had to work in servitude to others. In Al‑Anon, I learned that if I was resentful in this made-up slavery, it wasn’t a gift or service to others.

The hardest part was learning to be still with myself. At first, I would have to do needlework during meetings, just to sit that long. The greatest thing I learned was that I could not control all my defects of character, but my Higher Power could and would, if I asked. In my mind, I would visualize that my Higher Power loved my son as much if not more than I did. Daily, I would imagine my Higher Power surrounded by children.  I would swaddle my son with a blanket and hand him over to his Higher Power.

Today, the biggest reward is my relationships with others. If not for Al‑Anon, I would have alienated everyone I knew. My oldest daughter and I are true friends. She has forgiven me for the neglect she had to endure and the responsibility she had to assume. My youngest two children are finding their own identities. My husband is allowed to have his own opinion and actions separate from mine. My son and I don’t have long, heartfelt conversations, but he will spontaneously hug me, and I know I have overcome his resentment.

By Chris M.
The Forum, March 2017

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

2017-07-27T15:50:33+00:00 March 21, 2017|Categories: Alcoholic Child|

5 Comments

  1. Mary September 2017 at 9:31 am

    My son is 42 and has a drinking problem. I have stood by him and will continue to but it is tearing me apart. It has gotten to the point where I am scared he will die of this disease. It is a tough problem that I have been dealing with for what seems like forever.

  2. Mandy August 2017 at 4:27 pm

    My ex-husband had (still has) a drink problem, and I am now looking on as my nearly 21-year-old son is becoming alcohol dependent. He is the youngest of my 3 and I also feel his 2 older sisters have dealt with my pain and failure for too long. My son has spiraled into deep depression since he was 14 and has social anxiety, meaning he doesn’t go out and has piled on weight too. I look at photos of him as a lad and it breaks my heart that my energetic, happy, witty charming son is destroying his once-athletic body.

  3. Josephine August 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Your words touched my heart my child who is now an adult is spiraling down so fast. I don’t know what to do I’m a single mom of 3 girls. I want to ask if I should continue to pay hr rent.

  4. CAYE August 2017 at 6:01 pm

    I am not a widower. I did still feel alone in this struggle. My husband did not seem to “care” as much as I did, or in my opinion, at all. I was willing to do whatever it took to get my 16 yr old son better. I listened to all the adolescent drug abuse counselors. I had my son picked up and taken against his will to a Psychiatric hospital and then to a treatment center. I tricked him, lied to him and kicked him out of my house to try to get him to break and beg for my help. I have pretended everything was okay, because I wanted it so bad, and then became very angry and numb when reality hit me in the face and my world crumbled.
    I am not doing that anymore. I am choosing to love my son just the way he is right now. I know now I can not control his disease. I want to repair our relationship. I want to do the work I need to to be the healthiest I can be. I have not given up, I have chosen to give my son, my husband and myself to a power greater than myself. That for me is God.
    I am having dinner with son tonite. I will not try to manipulate him or allow him to manipulate me. I will just be with him. I pray to God more than once a day for his will and to let me have the courage and strength to carry it out.

  5. REX L. August 2017 at 11:05 am

    This is comforting information. But is still very difficult to deal with. There just seems to be no answer as to how to deal with one of your children being an alcoholic and with me being a widower, there is no one to help with this problem except my two older children who I feel have dealt with it long enough and I don’t want to burden them with it anymore.

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