I have been in and out of Al‑Anon for at least the last 20 years. My pattern was this: A crisis would arise with one of the alcoholics in my life, and I would show up at a meeting hoping to find new tactics for dealing with the alcoholic’s problems. Once the crisis settled down, I would find excuses not to go back, and the cycle would start all over.
I guess I must have missed what some members call Step Zero: “Keep Coming Back.”
For whatever reason, this time feels different. I finally realize that the program is designed to help me change my behaviors, my reactions, and my responses. Period. Maybe my Higher Power has finally given me “the wisdom to know the difference” between what is under my scope of control and what isn’t. But one thing is for sure: I can see that my definition of “love” came with a lot of strings and conditions.
The alcoholic I’m primarily concerned about at this point in my life is my adult daughter. I have spent the bulk of her adult life pleading, threatening, and manipulating her to try to get her to listen and adhere to the solutions I had for her life. And being stuck in this cycle of interaction has left me feeling suspicious of whatever she tells me, and left her feeling less than, due to my speeches about how she could straighten out her life by following my road map.
Now, I am trying to detach with love. I have for so long confused enabling with love. I see how this program can help me take a cold, hard look at my own behaviors and intentions, but I now realize it starts with Step Zero. I’ve got to “Keep Coming Back.”
By Leah K., North Carolina
The Forum, September 2023
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.