I had dinner with my dad the other night, and he was going to take me to an AA meeting after. Over dinner, we were talking about Al-Anon and how it has really helped him. I’ve been wanting to go to an Al-Anon meeting for awhile now, so I suggested going to his Al-Anon instead of the AA meeting.
Boy, am I glad I did. One of my biggest criticisms of the AA program is that there is not nearly enough focus on the effect the alcoholic has on the family and love ones. Sure, there’s Steps 8 and 9 and making amends, but from my experience a lot of alcoholics don’t do the steps or avoid making amends and those who do may fail to truly emotionally connect and feel the damage caused to family members.
The first thing I immediately saw at the Al-Anon meeting was how tired and beaten down a lot of people seemed. It’s the same for some AA meetings as well. Alcohol really does a number on everyone.
I was most impacted by two couples, both parents of early twenty something year olds, who’s sons were rapidly deteriorating into alcoholic hell. One dad described the fear he had of his own cellphone, because he never knew if it was going to be bad news on the other end. He said he hated his phone. A mother teared up describing how powerless she was over her son sneaking off and drinking in his room, that she couldn’t do anything to help him or save him.
It brought home (literally) the feeling I’m sure my wife and parents had on those dreadful nights when I called with bad news, and how powerless they must have felt (as I do) over this disease.
I think the powerlessness piece is even worse with family members, because they are powerless over both the alcoholic and alcoholism itself — a double layer of powerlessness.
I shared for a minute or two, just thanking the group for allowing me to be there as an alcoholic in recovery, helping me with my own recovery, and offering some hope, from my experience and others in “the other program” as the Al-Anons say, that this too shall pass.
After the meeting, my dad and I spoke to one of the couples and offered whatever encouragement we could muster. It was their first meeting, and they seemed relieved and hopeful that help was there and maybe things would be better.
All in all, it was a great experience and I highly recommend it to any alcoholic in recovery.
P.S. I got my 30 day coin! Third time is a charm, but you have to start somewhere!
One day at a time…