When I first came to Al‑Anon, I felt as though I had finally found a group of people who really understood my struggle. It was such a relief to know they understood my emotional language, not just intellectually, but experientially as well. I felt heard, and never judged. I was encouraged to begin working the Steps and find a Sponsor. It was a great place to start. I felt I had a strong relationship with my Higher Power, and as I began working Step One, that miracle of getting the guidance I needed came to me one day. My daughter, who desperately wanted to come home to live with me after treatment, simply did not understand why my answer was “no.”
My dear daughter,
You asked me to write a letter stating the impact your addiction to alcohol has had on me. I’ve given a great deal of thought to the question.
I came to Al-Anon starving and humbly begging. I was starving emotionally and begging for “food.” I found food in the program—nourishment for my starving soul. I kept coming back and working the program, because I gained emotional nourishment.
There was a lunar eclipse this cold Saturday morning and I got up at 6 a.m. to see it. I got out of my warm bed, went to the window, and opened the shade. I was disappointed in what I saw: a barely visible, blurry blob of white with a gray smudge and a little red tint on the bottom. Maybe it was just a streetlight in the fog, maybe it was too overcast, or maybe I had forgotten that I am nearly blind without my glasses.
It is an understatement to say that my life had become unmanageable. My 17-year-old son was abusing drugs and alcohol. I spent night after night wondering what I had done wrong, and what should I be doing differently. It seemed like the more I tried to fix and control him, the worse things became. I would listen in on his phone conversations, spy on him, and raid his room looking for drugs and alcohol; yet continue to clean up his mess and mistakes. I took the fall for his actions.
“Mommy, I am sick.” I can recall hearing my eighteen-year-old daughter’s voice reaching out to me as she used to do when she was a little girl untouched by the disease of alcoholism. I can glimpse a time gone by. It is a bright, sunny day and I am running behind her as she darts off toward a playground slide. I can still clearly see her blond curls cascading down her back into rows of ringlets, as she swings her head back toward me, and smiles a genuine smile full of love, sanity, and security.
My mother’s drinking led me to Al‑Anon 22 years ago. I came and went through my eleven-year marriage to an alcoholic. I am back, once again, because of my 19‑year‑old son. Never in my wildest dreams had I expected the path of my life to take this course. Yet here I am, caught in the embrace of this beautiful program that works as hard for me as I am willing to work it.
Our adult son was an alcoholic, and I was the perfect enabler. I thought I was helping by giving him money, food, and even doing his laundry—until one evening as I was returning his laundry. I saw him walking down the street, intoxicated. Suddenly I realized that I was not helping, but hindering the possibility of him getting help for his disease. All of the caretaking that I had done had been destructive.
Three and a half years ago, I found myself in a high school guidance counselor’s office, crying about the latest crisis with my daughter. She had totaled my van on prom night, driving drunk. Through the grace of God, no one was killed or seriously injured, but it was my wakeup call. Through the grace of this gentle counselor, I was advised to go to Al‑Anon.
I did not come to Al‑Anon willingly. I was, after all, too worldly, too well educated, and far too experienced to require help from anybody. My grief and despair for a son caught up in the disease of alcoholism and drug abuse persisted despite all my efforts to cure him or to have him cured. Such were the actions I believed a responsible parent was supposed to perform in our society. I expected him to stop. His conduct was contrary to those I believed to be the hallmarks of our “class.” Yet he persisted.