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I Know The Words
- I Know The Words
- My husband has been paradoxically cursed and blessed with a terminal illness known as alcoholism. Originally I believed he suffered from a moral weakness and nothing more. However, once I began my own road to recovery in Al-Anon, I kept hearing this "defect of character" referred to as a disease. The literature I studied made repeated reference to the disease process.
- Intellectually, I heard disease and I tried very diligently to believe what I was taught. My heart, however, was a long way from buying the idea. The emotional damage inflicted by this so-called disease was extensive.
- I could not separate the actions of the man from the actions of his disease. I hurt. I was filled with resentments, despair and self-pity. To make a long story short, my husband could no longer listen to me vent my emotions and still maintain his sobriety. Because I was unable to let these feelings go, I began to turn my anger inward.
- Eventually I experienced a profound depression in my heart and my soul. The pain was as intense as any physical pain I've experienced. During this time, I looked to my husband for compassion, patience, understanding and love. I wanted him to see me through this, but the more I looked to him to make me better the more he withdrew. I even felt abandoned by God, because God wasn't fixing me the way I thought He should.
- The Day finally came when my husband looked at me and said, "Joan, I'm not responsible for your depression, and I refuse to be." His words sent me reeling with a familiar haze of rage. I was ready to call it quits, but within minutes the dam within me broke apart. I saw my part in all of this as clearly as the light of a new day. I realized, thanks to God, that at no time during my husband's illness did I ever offer him compassion, patience, understanding or love. My love had one big condition underscoring it. I wanted him to be the person I wanted him to be, rather than the person that God deemed him to be.
- With this insight I realized that I knew nothing about unconditional love. Without the grace of God I might even have been incapable of unconditional love. As I wrote about this insight, I knew deep in my heart that I was only at a newborn's stage in trying to fathom God's love.
- We celebrated God's love at our wedding when I repeated the words, "For better, for worse; for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health..." At that time, I thought I meant the words that I said. But today I know what those words really mean.
- Joan S. - Iowa
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.