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Al-Anon Forum Magazine Featured Article

Dealing With Myself
For four years I was married to an active alcoholic. I covered for him when he drank too much and I drank with him to have a social life. I pleaded with him, fought with him and took care of him. I prayed for him to be picked up and jailed. I saved meals, dumped meals and let him go without. I went through such things as getting thinner to please him, only to be told I was too thin. I was sweet, tough, cheerful and depressed. I thought all we needed was counseling, because I was in a state of denial.
Fortunately, I had two family members who knew where I needed to be. At my first Al-Anon meeting, I walked through the door angry and desperate. I needed relief from the pain and suffering that had accumulated in my life. Because I was welcomed with open arms, I knew in my heart that this was the right place for me. As I look back now, my decision to try Al-Anon meant I was choosing life over death. I had come so close to losing myself in my alcoholic home.
In order to recover, I chose to work the program. Step One was easy enough--I admitted I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable. In Step Two I came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. God had already seen me through some tough times so I was sure He would help me now. I decided in Step Three to turn my will and my life over to God's care. Wow, I was sailing. The Steps didn't seem to be too much work, after all. When I realized I was riding a merry-go-round of Steps One, Two and Three, I didn't understand why.
After six months in the program, I wasn't feeling any real peace. One day as I was reading my Al-Anon literature, it hit me. I never really took Step One. Six months in the program and I was back where I started. I read about Step One in my Al-Anon literature and, for the first time, I truly started working on the Step. Finally I realized sailing through a Step was not part of the program. If I wanted to feel serenity, I needed to study and work at my recovery.
It was my first lesson in humility. Through this experience I learned other things as well. I discovered the value of working a Step is in the end result, not in how fast I finish it. Each Step is vital to recovery and I can work at the pace that is right for me. Going to Step meetings reminds me how personal each Step is and that there is a reason for their order. As an example, I took Step Four three times before I felt I was ready to move on.
I believe the disease of alcoholism is sneaky and progressive. I became sick right along with the alcoholic. It affected my whole life. The evidence of its nature was in my thoughts, words and actions. It even affected me in physical ways with nervousness, sleeplessness and intestinal troubles--and I wasn't the alcoholic. I can only imagine its effects on the alcoholic. I am extremely grateful that I've never known that side of it, and I pray that's one path I'll never walk.
I can honestly say I've never considered giving up Al-Anon, because it has given me a wonderful outline for life. I know I have not been miraculously cured, though. I believe unhealthy thinking and behavior lies dormant in me - but, by the grace of God, Al-Anon will continue to help me deal with myself. I appreciate the Steps, slogans and the literature. I'm especially grateful for the unconditional love. I appreciate my sponsor, her wisdom and all of the friends I have made. My life isn't perfect. I still experience a lot of obstacles and road blocks, but having God involved means I no longer have to handle anything alone.
Dee N. - Nebraska
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.