A mother wrote to me: I’ve been to many Al-Anon meetings and they were all terrible experiences. I came away feeling worse and even more hopeless. I know it takes a good fit, but I’ve never found one. Maybe I’m too old for the BS. I have no faith in therapy. I went to a counselor myself and it was a waste of time. A person’s mind is his own and no one else can do anything about it.
My reflection: I went to three Al-Anon meetings before I found one where I felt comfortable. During the first two, I wept, buried my head in my lap, and never said a word. I left those meetings confused and defeated.
Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction wants to keep us consumed with feelings of shame and stigma, while it flourishes in the silence. When I finally found my home group, I knew I was surrounded by support and compassion, and I was safe to be vulnerable. Al-Anon became my lifeline. Continuing to reach out a hand for help takes courage, but today, I’ll remember that we’re stronger together.
Keep looking for a support group, it will make a world of difference in your journey. It is recommended that you attend at least six meetings before determining if a meeting is right for you or not. I attend a Families Anonymous (familiesanonymous.org) meeting each Monday. We have, on average, nineteen parents who attend. I could write a book on the importance of being a member.
Dear Pat, I agree 100%. Your group, Families Anonymous, does great work, and you help so many suffering people. Thanks for sharing your hard-fought wisdom. I’m appreciative.
I, too, was reluctant to really engage in the early days of my alanon experience. The first time I went, I practically crawled in. Crying, crying, crying. But as time went on, I became aware of a distinct shift in my thinking and in my objectives for going. As I became stronger, I found I could actually help and encourage OTHERS! It was very rewarding to think that little ole me could turn my grief into actually being of service to a newcomer or to someone having a “relapse” (which I still do). . That’s when I knew I was at least making progress. But it took time. And it happened without me consciously setting out to do it. When you’re in the right meeting, you’ll know it.
Dear Laurie, The word ‘crawl’ is so accurate. I, too, was broken and ashamed to be at my first meeting. What if, I thought, I see another parent whom I know? After I found my home group, it didn’t matter because I found help and encouragement. I love that, as you got stronger, you started to help others. Service makes all the difference. It does take time, and we have to keep at it. I agree – when you’re in the right meeting, you’ll know it. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. This is how we all learn, from each other. xoxo
In have felt similar to the author of the post about feeling worse at the AL-ANON meetings when I attended. So I discontinued. My son has been sober for a year now, and I thought that meant my “journey of recovery” was complete. I just read the post as started crying. Think it’s time I seek a support group again.
My dearest Mindy, I understand, and I’m deeply appreciative of your comment. There are many moms – including me – who feel the same way. For me, I think our journey of recovery is never over. Scars and traumas left by the addition don’t go away, even when our children are living a good life. The memories stay, maybe, forever. My love to you. I join you in staying close to a support group. xoxo
I found my way to a Families Anonymous group early on in my son’s addiction journey. But we had to move for my husband’s job so I wasn’t able to stick with my original group, which was fantastic, by the way. I did become a part of the FA online group which was wonderful. Even went to some of their conferences and met great friends. But I never truly embraced MY recovery until I hit my bottom, after yet another move, and through a local new friend, found my way to an AlAnon group that has become my home. This group has been around for close to 50 years so there are “old timers” and many newcomers as well. It is a healthy thriving group and I know I am fortunate. I dont know how I would have survived without it and even though our son is doing better, AlAnon helps me “in all my affairs”. I live it and breathe it. I serve by holding a position and I do community out reach. I am also a sponsor. I balked at what seemed rigidity, the reading of only Conference Approved Literature, upholding the rules of the meetings. But because AlAnon was created by loved ones of those struggling with substance abuse, I find it genuine and relevant. AlAnon was not conceived by some learned individual. It was borne out of experience and continues to be. The readings are always so spot on!
Dear Monday, You’re right – there comes a time when we hit our bottom, when we finally recognize how much the addiction has taken from our very souls, and when we say, ‘enough.’ God bless you that you found two groups: Families Anonymous and Al-Anon. I agree that Al-Anon helps us ‘in all our affairs,’ and I think I’m a better, more compassionate mother and person for my time in the halls. The old timers are wonderful! They bring such strength and wisdom to the group. My love to you.
I went to meetings on/off for 8 years but just never felt ready to take on a sponsor. At every meeting we were told that there are no “musts” in Al-Anon but then it would feel that having a sponsor was being shoved down my throat. Having a sponsor requires work, but with having a very demanding full-time job, I just could not get into the “work.” My alcoholics have all passed away, and I just wanted to go to meetings and learn the steps. I eventually dropped out because I was not comfortable having a sponsor. Recently, I ran into one of my Al-Anon friends who invited me to join another meeting. I thought about it but decided I will wait until I retire later this year. The program is really good but sometimes we’re just not ready to forge ahead. I’m hoping and praying that having more time will motivate me to become more active. It’s always “one day at a time.”
My dearest Diane, I stand with you in ‘one day at a time.’ We each must come to things when we’re ready. No one wants anything ‘shoved down her throat.’ I’ve met people in Al-Anon, who were prescriptive — who gave me a list of ‘do’s and don’ts.’ I went to three before I found my home group, and many people recommend trying six meetings before deciding. When YOU are ready, I pray that right group appears. My love to you.