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Al-Anon Forum Magazine Featured Article

A Good Life
Even the 86 year-old neighbor across the street had seen I was in deep trouble and that I didn't have a clue what the problem was. A secretary at work shared that I looked and acted like a snuffed-out candle. It was my third alcoholic marriage. I had grown up in an alcoholic home where mother and children had physical disabilities. I continued down a familiar path. As an adult I chose exciting personalities with severe problems so I could fix them, even though I hadn't been able to fix anyone in my family when I was young, either.
Thinking I was helping, I rescued a husband and his two children from poverty and from the wife and mother who didn't want them. I stepped right into the caretaker role as sole breadwinner to provide nice housing, clothing, food and even allowances. As the downward spiral continued, I found myself assuming more and more of this man's responsibilities, trying to help out.
In addition to teaching, running the house and taking care of the children, I made sure the house sparkled. I put a home-made dinner on the table at 6 p.m. so we could eat together when he came home. Of course he never arrived on time. Not until I came into recovery did we sit down as a family of three and eat at 6 p.m. I constantly tried to make things better, never seeing that I was only making things worse.
When I finally entered the program, Step One was the best thing that could have happened to me. Step Two came as a welcome relief--Someone else was in charge! Step Three--Someone above me is more capable and more responsible!
I never thought this rigid backbone of mine could ever relax. Here I was, 32 years old and supposedly educated, but I didn't have a clue about what a moral inventory was. Thank the Higher Power and Al-Anon for Blueprint for Progress, the Fourth Step inventory book. I was so sick that I made doctor, dentist and counseling appointments for my step-children, but it never occurred to me that I was also responsible for taking care of myself.
Steps Five and Six--what wrongs! I was too busy taking care of others. That was my job, and no one could take better care of himself or herself than I could. I never took the time to think about either the good things or the bad things that I did. I never realized or gave myself credit for the children whose lives I'd been able to touch. There were days when my mind was crazed with what-ifs and molehills-turned-into-mountains. I ignored my step-children's pain by shutting them out--yet, I couldn't understand it when they did the same thing.
I have worked on Steps Seven and Eight too. Seven was easy for me because of my willingness to accept all the help the program has to offer. When I first thought about Step Eight and all the people I had hurt--Yes, I'll admit I hurt some intentionally--I was overwhelmed. When I came across a paragraph in Courage to Change suggesting that I concentrate on one person at a time and not think about the others, a light bulb turned on. It sure made sense to me. I would still like to make amends to my stepchildren--if they ever surface. In my mind I have prepared myself to make amends to my ex-husband. I realize now that the situation took two of us to make it happen. As I learned in the in the pamphlet, Alcoholism, A Merry-Go-Round Named Denial, we fed off one another and our behaviors escalated. Neither of us was entirely to blame.
I love Step Ten. It's one of my favorites. As I see myself do something wrong, I quickly make amends and then rejoice! That way, I can see I've made another step forward in my journey to recovery.
I do Step Eleven by choosing a piece of Conference Approved Literature to read--or I lay in my bed meditating about how wonderful my life has become. Either way, I learn something new about myself or about life in general. Every time I re-read GAL, it amazes me how much better a message about life I'm receiving.
My spirit was dead when I came into the program. Al-Anon showed me how to find my Higher Power. I began to realize I didn't have the weight of the world on my shoulders-Someone else is in charge of the way things happen. These realizations led to an awesome spiritual awakening for me. Eventually, I discovered that although I don't always understand why things happen as they do, they are still happening in my best interest. It's difficult to explain what a relief it is to think bad things are happening--and then to realize they're not!
Chyrel R. - New York
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.