|Bob Weete, columnist|
"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable"
This is the first step to an awareness of the effects of a loved one's addiction to alcohol. When we get to this step, we are ready to find peace in our lives through applying the steps of Al-Anon.
Al-Anon is a program of recovery for anyone whose life has been affected by the problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend. If you feel you can identify with this, perhaps you should take the step of helping yourself to find a solution to the stress, the fear, the loneliness, the shear exhaustion to trying to get your loved one to stop their drinking.
You have probably tried all kinds of means to make that person stop what you know is hurting kids, relatives, friends, but mostly the alcoholic personally. You've pleaded. Didn't work. You have threatened. Didn't work, either. "If you loved me..." is common. That failed. And you have gone through all the human ways you can think of, but the person simply doesn't seem to hear you.
You've been "at the end of your rope" dozens of time, and yet you still somehow hold out that hope for success. In the meantime, you are worn to a frazzle, kids and family members are also hurt by it all, and it affects their lives, too.
But the alcoholic still hangs on. Oh, yes, he/she cries, you cry, the kids cry, grandma and all cry. But things do not change. The alcoholic "promises", and you have hope - for awhile. The alcoholic falls, and "you promised me" is heard, perhaps bitterly. Oftentimes the situation results in a divorce or other traumatic break-up. Kids always suffer when that happens.
Resentments build to monumental proportions and some pretty damaging things can be said that cannot really be true, as we still love the person. It's the drinking we hate, but we are so hurt ourselves, that we can't tell the difference.
My father was the first alcoholic in my family. And then, when I was about eleven, my mother "caught" the disease. I kind of know what I'm talking about. And that is exactly the reason that Al-Anon works for people. The members of Al-Anon are adults who have gone through hell, just as you perhaps. We understand. We have lived it, we have stressed, cried, cajoled, prayed, and to no avail.
There comes a time where we think, "I just cannot take this anymore". It's okay. But there is still that nagging thought: "But I love this person. He/she is a wonderful person. I just know it. And we want so desperately for that person to return!
Though this is true of all of us, we never stop to think: "Wait a minute. I am not me, either!" And you feel a bit guilty when that realization comes. We can choose to decide, "Well, it's not my fault! His/her drinking has made me into this ugly person."
Or, you can choose to take a different approach. And that is to work to heal yourself by recognizing you need to re-capture your old self, too. If we could see ourselves as others see us, we might be a bit startled at what we see.
Al-Anon has no magic potion, no special Faerie Dust to sprinkle on, to fix you. No guarantees are promised. Because it depends on you, and what you are willing to do for yourself. And this, by the way, is our focus in Al-Anon. We do not "fix" the alcoholic, or tell you how to fix it. We do offer you an open opportunity to regain a reasonably sane and peaceful life, even though the alcoholic still drinks.
The alcoholic has a wonderful program designed specifically for them. Ours is for us, on the other side of the disease. So, we come together, to discuss the disease, how we are affected, and; we learn through the program how we may choose to modify our own behaviors so as to achieve at least a modicum of sanity and serenity.
The Blythe Serenity Al-Anon Family group meets each Thursday evening, in the trailer at the Blythe Church of the Nazarene Church, 131 N. 2nd Street. We are currently very small in number, yet we are sure there are many people in Blythe who struggle. Please think it over and consider joining us.
We are here to help one another. It is a critical part of our program that whatever is discussed here, and whoever is present, will stay within this group. We could not survive as a helping group otherwise. We are not here to gossip; we are here to be of service to anyone who is intent on finding peace and love in their relationship with an alcoholic. The root of the program is epitomized by our Prayer for Serenity: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."