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Al-Anon Forum Magazine Featured Article

Confession Sparks Insight Into Past Abuse
One day I told my oldest sister how much I appreciated her for taking care of me and being like a mom to me all the years we were growing up. I told her I appreciated that she played with me a lot and taught me a lot of things.
She couldn't believe her ears, and thought I was kidding. I said I wasn't kidding -- I was sincere. She thought I was being sarcastic because when our parents left her in charge, she had been so abusive to us. She was the oldest of four girls.
Then it was I who said "You're kidding."
She proceeded to tell me the ways in which she had been abusive and how deeply she resented all of us for being left in charge. I spoke to another sister who verified my oldest sister's perception of what really happened.
My other sister said our oldest sister used to sit on top of her for hours while our parents were away, not even letting her up to go to the bathroom. Our oldest sister had always been much heavier than the rest of us.
Growing up I learned to be attracted to abusive personalities. I associated those kinds of people with being loved, nurtured, and accepted. When all this came up, I had over ten years in the program.
One day it dawned on me, I was still choosing those abusive people to be in my life. That was a huge revelation.
I was happy to learn that not everyone in my life is abusive. There's a certain feeling that goes with abusive relationships -- other relationships feel different.
Today I'm aware of the feelings I get around people. I'm careful to take my time in developing a relationship because my perception was skewed at such an early age.
I realize some people are hurt and insecure. I have great compassion for them, but I don't have to put myself in harm's way and then later find myself wondering why I feel so bad or what I am doing wrong.
Being aware gives me choices. I can choose the people I have in my life. My awareness gives me a choice to be drawn to people's personalities if I'm around them in the program.
As an adult child of an alcoholic, I felt I'd been recreating feelings of confusion, rejection, and unavailability and kept replaying my role as a victim. Because my oldest sister was honest, she gave me a great gift -- to stop perpetuating the misery in my life.
Had I not had the courage to keep a relationship with her on an intimate level and kept the lines of communication open, my progress in my program would have been hindered.
By Lois M., Orlando, Florida
Published December, 2006
Alcoholism is a family disease. Those of us who live with, or have have lived with, this disease as children or adults sometimes have problems which the Al-Anon program can help us to resolve. If you have answered yes to some of all of the above questions, Al-Anon may be of help to you. You can contact Al-Anon by checking your local telephone directory, or from the Resources page. Phone numbers and Contact Information for the Austin Area are listed on the Contact Page of this website.
These articles were reproduced with permission from 'The Forum', the monthly inspirational newsletter of Al-Anon. Al-Anon World Headquarters, Inc. is located in Virginia Beach, VA. See www.Al-Anon.org for more information.