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Breaking the Chain

All I wanted to know, when I came to Al-Anon, was how to cope with my husband's impossible behavior. He was driving me crazy, and I blamed him for my own insane reactions, often displayed in the presence of my children.

I did not feel good about myself, and often thought I would feel better if we just divorced, even though I love him. Since my husband had been in recovery for alcoholism many years before I even met him, I didn't think the disease had anything to do with him, or our marital problems.

I sure didn't think his alcoholism had anything to do with me! Although, I often compared his behavior to my alcoholic mother's behavior, that was to get his goat in the heat of an argument. Justifying myself with, "He hurt me first!"

Affected By Alcoholism

What I didn't know is that I had been affected by the disease of alcoholism long before I met him.

Yes, my mother drank a lot, to the point of getting drunk three of four times a week, but what did that have to do with me? I knew she loved me, I turned out okay, and that was her problem, not mine. Through Al-Anon, I learned that I had been emotionally wounded in my childhood, but stuffed most of my "bad" emotions so I didn't have to feel any pain.

I learned that I did in fact, blame myself for my mother's drinking. She was a single mom, so I thought if she didn't have to take care of me, she wouldn't have to drink so she didn't have to face the bills, buy the food, go to work, etc.

Neglecting My Own Needs

When she drank, all conversations were about her, so I perceived that what I felt didn't matter and that I was there to listen to all of her problems, which she so freely talked about when she was drunk. I formed the perception that it was my job to try to make her feel better about herself, but I never could accomplish that, so I didn't feel worthy.

I grew up wondering if I was invisible. I learned to anticipate other people's needs while neglecting my own, for I didn't consider my own feelings.

My childlike mind, formed perceptions to deal with the neglect that my mother's drinking caused. A affect of the neglect was my own self-teaching. If I had a question, I made up the answers, always black and white because I couldn't think abstractly.

Irratioinal Reactions

When my husband was upset, I reacted with fear, trying to fix whatever he thought was wrong. I tried to change me, thinking that would make him happy. Since that didn't work, I tried to change him by pointing out all the faults he needed to work on to be happy.

With my black-and-white thinking, I was sure he didn't love me because he was angry with me. I had stuffed my emotions so much in my childhood, and seldom reacted, so I couldn't understand why I reacted so irrationally towards his behavior.

I didn't know that those wounds from childhood had been festering and that they would eventually come out in my reactions causing me to feel crazy, though I couldn't have named or recognize my own feelings of anger, fear, hurt, rejection, I knew I just felt crazy.

A Family Disease

Through Al-Anon, I learned that my behavior was not that much different from my alcoholic loved ones' behavior, and that this is a family disease. If I did not get recovery for myself, I in turn, would pass the affects of this disease along to my children, in fact, I already had.

However, with the help of Al-Anon, including the Steps, my sponsor and all the members that share their own experience strength and hope, and my own efforts of reading Conference Approved Literature (CAL), our lives are changing for the better.

I am showing my children a better way to deal with conflict, how to be true to themselves, and not base their own self-worth on the opinions or reactions of others.

Personal Change Is Possible

I have learned to love my mother more intensely then I thought possible, and I do not have to blame her for how my life was before Al-Anon because Al-Anon taught me, I have choices now. I not only can recognize my emotions now, I can feel them and deal with them. The more love I have for myself, the more love I feel towards others, and it shows.

I am teaching my children that it is not only possible to live with an alcoholic in harmony, but to love the person, not the disease. I am breaking the chain reaction of this disease upon my family, I am changing, and showing others that personal change is possible. I am a grateful member of Al-Anon.

Robbin M. from Kansas

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