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A safe place to be heard

The Beagle Editor,


I went to my first Al-Anon meeting to fix my husband's drinking and to save our marriage. I was sure there was something I could do to solve the problem. Surely something was lacking in me if he needed the constant comfort of alcohol. Surely, if I tried hard enough, there would be a miracle solution to keep the family together.


Imagine my surprise when I heard the First Step of this self-help program - "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that OUR lives had become unmanageable." At the end of the meeting, someone came up to me and explained how her own "rescuing" behaviour had enabled her husband to continue his drinking. She also explained that her situation had improved when she was able to step back, not get involved in alcoholic arguments and concentrate on her own health and happiness. This was when I first heard the term "detachment". I was still quite confused but that night, I slept better than I had in years.

Over the next few months, I heard other people explain their situations. I couldn't believe how much we had in common. I do not find new social occasions easy but I felt at home with these complete strangers. When I was eventually able to share my own story, I was accepted, understood, not judged or criticised. Not even interrupted!!


I learnt through listening that alcoholism is a family disease. Patterns of excessive drinking can be carried on by each generation. Patterns of putting up with abusive relationships can also be passed on. I learned that it is a baffling illness; that it is not just a physical illness; that manipulation and emotional and financial blackmail are also part of the disease of the family.


What was my part in all this? At times, I felt totally responsible. I was told often enough that it was my fault. I began to realise that I was more worried about my husband's health than he was. I was so anxious that my own health deteriorated. I was yelling at the children, impatient and angry with them because I couldn't communicate with him and he wasn't changing his behaviour.

If you have related to even a small part of this personal story, then maybe Al-Anon is a safe place for you to be heard.

Name and address supplied


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