My oldest daughter is a beautiful, vivacious 25-year old with so much promise. At eight, after the urging of her teachers, she had her first psychiatric appointment in what would become a continuum of appointments and disappointments for many years. At 12, she was anorexic and very close to being hospitalized. It was then that I felt that, as a parent, I had absolutely no control over whether she ate or not, but if she stopped breathing I would continue to breathe for her. It was of course an insane thought, but I felt it to my core. Our emotions were completely enmeshed.
When she was 13, we found an empty bottle of vodka in her bedroom closet. Thus began the struggle to control not only her eating but also her drinking. After trying to control her dangerous behavior with prescription medication, with catastrophic results, she went on to street drugs. At the age of 14, my husband and I made the very difficult decision to have her enter a private residential care facility outside of Canada. She consequently graduated to three separate facilities and finally came home to live with us again at age 17. During her time away, she celebrated her one-year anniversary with A.A.
The silver lining was that while she was away, we were introduced to recovery. With a history of family addiction and mental illness in both of our families, my husband and I were long overdue yet reluctant to accept that we possibly had a problem too.
As a child of an alcoholic father and a very co-dependent mother, being in control is something I had strived for my entire life, and something I have identified as a personal core strength as an adult. Through Al‑Anon, I realized over time that “letting go and letting God” was a phenomenal relief and it has led me to a much happier life path.
My youngest daughter, now 17 and still living at home, suffers from chronic depression and exhibits angry and extreme resentment most of the time. She self medicates with alcohol and other drugs. On many days, she has difficulty even getting out of bed to attend school. She can be verbally and physically violent. Most times, she keeps me at such a distance that I can’t even be a real mother to her in the traditional sense.
I find it helpful to set healthy boundaries and separate with “loving detachment” in order to be able to manage the situation. The Al‑Anon slogan
“Think” is very helpful.
“T.” Is what I’m about to say thoughtful?
“H.” Is it helpful?
“I.” Is it intelligent?
“N.” Is it necessary?
“K.” Is it kind?
Today, I attend weekly Al‑Anon meetings and take on service roles within the organization, which help me stay involved and on the recovery path.
Life’s challenges will continue, but with the help of Al‑Anon friends and with the Al‑Anon Twelve Steps, slogans, prayers, and my Higher Power, I have faith life will continue to improve for myself and my
The Forum, December 2014