Monday, September 28, 2009

A Year in Alanon

I committed to attend 6 months worth of Alanon meetings while I was at Family Week at Betty Ford. I committed to myself that I would go for a year.

I do not think I will continue to go back on a weekly basis, as it seems time is short now that I am a single working mother. But I haven't ruled it out on an as-needed basis.

The literature in particular has been very helpful to me. Several of the slogans are also great.

"Life on life's terms."

"Take what you like - leave the rest!"

"Life is a package deal."

"The three C's: You didn't cause it, you can't cure it, you can't control it."

What I think was the most helpful to me was attending week after week and seeing patterns. It seems both the alcoholic (sober or not) and the co-dependent have marked personality traits.

I saw the same people come to the meeting week after week. Some people got better, and others did not. Many people cried or complained every week about the same thing. The one thing I really noticed is while, recovery for the co-dependent is mostly about the co-dependent getting better, people who stayed in relationship with the alcoholic never seemed to get all that better. The same frustrations kept surfacing, even though they perhaps had better tools to deal with them.

It's easy to say just leave the alcoholic in your life. This is probably easier when it is your spouse, than when the addict is your parent or your child. But honestly, I did not see as much recovery for people who chose to stay with the alcoholic, sober or not. I saw a lot of recovery from the people who chose to leave.

I saw a lot of generational abuse of alcohol and drugs. My own thoughts after listening to a lot of this is that children model the behavior of their parents. I did see some interesting research about genetics while I was at Betty Ford. But overall, after being around this for the last 7-8 years with my husband and being at Alanon meetings, I have to say that I think that this is learned behavior, mostly.

The saddest thing I saw was people who had children who were addicts. Sadder still were people who had lost these children. I did not see anyone fully recover from that. That is one reason I really firmed my resolve for my own children. I know this is a touchy subject, but I do believe there are things you can do that at least help your children become less at risk for this "disease." I'd like to research that more fully. But I do think I heard a lot of people talk about their lives and their regrets over the course of a year and there are things I have filed in my head.

One thing I really liked about Alanon is that no one is supposed to tell you what to do. I think this really helps because oftentimes when someone tells you what to do, you want to do the exact opposite. I think listening to people week after week really helped me develop my own informed opinion about what would work best for me in my own life.

Overall, I am very grateful for this program. I think it has been a good use of my time. I will say though that I believe in the law of attraction. That is, your life becomes more of what you focus on.

And I am tired of focusing on the alcoholic in my life. I am ready to focus on the positive aspects. I believe I have learned more of what has brought me into that relationship through Alanon, other reading, counseling and introspection.

I have noticed that several of the people I know who had serious drug and alcohol problems and then completely moved away from that and DID NOT retain the typical dry drunk characteristics that you usually see did not ever attend AA meetings. They used either church or Islam for their recovery. That is something else I would like to further look into, with Alanon as well. I have said this before, but I think after all these years, there should be more than just AA and Alanon, or at least more progress within those groups.

There are still far too many serious consequences to alcoholism and addiction for us to not begin to take this more seriously.

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