I’ve been a grateful member of Al‑Anon since February 14, 2018. For the previous five and a half years, I was a bitter, angry, and resentful member. I couldn’t bring myself to accept that alcoholism is a disease. I found it much easier to view as bad behavior.
By that Wednesday morning, the alcoholic had disappeared for five weeks, leaving me with temporary, emergency custody of my Type 1 diabetic stepdaughter and a very large chip on my shoulder. I went to my Al-Anon meeting in hope of finding some relief there, even if only temporarily.
No one had signed up ahead to chair the meeting, but someone volunteered. After the opening, she asked if anyone had a topic in mind, and a longtime member immediately said the word “consistency.” In my mind, I began running through the list of bad behavior consistently displayed by the alcoholic, and I was instantly awash in my go-to emotion—anger.
But something happened that day. As other members shared, I began to examine the things I was doing consistently. First, I was consistently angry. Second, I consistently judged the alcoholic; and third, I consistently justified my anger and judgment. I came to realize that I no longer liked myself and whom I had become.
That day, I was finally able to stop blaming all my problems on the alcoholic, and began to examine my own faults and character defects. That day, I was able to accept that alcoholism truly is a disease.
On page 76 of One Day at a Time in Al‑Anon (B-6), it states, “No matter how badly we think life has beaten us, we still cling to the idea that acceptance and surrender are a kind of hopeless giving-in, a weakness of character. Not so! Acceptance means simply admitting there are things we cannot change.”
By clinging to the idea that I would be weak to accept that I couldn’t change the alcoholic, I had turned into someone I didn’t like. That day, I began to understand that the only person I had the right to change was me.
Today, even though the alcoholic and I are no longer together, we have become friends again. Thanks to the acceptance I found on that day, I have serenity and gratitude. Those two precious gifts are why I keep coming back.
By Eric G., Montana
The Forum, December 2020
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.
I have been living with the person I love the most in this whole world. My soul mate, only to find myself in a place over the last 5 years of not understanding this disease. It has shattered my life and my hatred has become a constant. During this time my family has become non existent, as situations popped up that put a wedge between my wife and I, surgeries for endometriosis, the lack of being able to have a baby and on top of that, alcohol, wine and harder, medical pills and pot have entered into the fray. Too… Read more »
I am new to Al-Anon and and I have a husband that is having substance abuse problem, leaving the home 2 to 3 days when he gets this urge for drugs and comes back and says he ready to go get help for the 686 time. He has pretty much incorporated it into like a schedule and it has become a repetitive thing. He has went for help one time just for about 2 weeks and stayed clean for about 3 months and relapsed and has refused to go back and receive help. We have a young son together and… Read more »
Thank you for your posting. It was very helpful to me in my current relationship. I have become someone that I’m not. I have become hateful and angry. For some crazy reason, I was making this all about me, never understanding the alcoholic and what she’s going through. My biggest problem is living in fear and believing and accepting empty promises (I’ve learned my lesson, I’m never drinking again) those words only served, as false hope. I have to accept that the only thing, I can change or have control on is ME. I did everything in my power to… Read more »
Yes! For me too! Gratitude and Serenity! I’m coming back for over 50 years. 12 Steps are my way of life. It’s all good, so no need to quit now!
Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this. This is actually my first visit to this site or anything such in efforts to get the strength and tools to figure out how to “help me” and not the alcoholic in my life. I too don’t like who I am becoming… feeling weak and defeated and although I’m a frequent serenity prayer user…. it’s not until now and especially seeing your post that I’m realizing I’m not truly using it……I’m so lost and exhausted but have a light shed in front of me that I need to change my perspective… Read more »