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Post Info TOPIC: Struggling with knowing if Al-anon is for me


Newbie

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Date:
Struggling with knowing if Al-anon is for me


Hello my name is Heather and my husband is a newly recovering addict.

I am the mama of two small children (hence my incredibly creative username) 2.5 year and 5 month old boys. My husband had a pill addition that he hid very well from me a year and it all came out right after the birth of our youngest son. We have a lot of the typical addict story: lies, financial ruin, mistrust, legal issues, selfishness etc. and we are working through it all. I am proud to say my husband is 5 months sober and is working his program diligently.

Now to me. I have been attending Al-anon for a few weeks now and find great value in it. I have seen it help bring about some positive change in how I cope with my husbands behavior and react to the environment around me. With that being said I am struggling with some things and would love to hear your experiences to help decide if this is for me.

1. I feel like the program takes itself way too seriously

2. I struggle with the concept that someone's heartfelt emotions and words should be dictated or mandated by rules

3. I am agnostic, it seems like an incredibly religious program no matter how many times they throw in at the end HP as you see him/her.

4. Almost militant in sharing, how you can share, how you can behave

5. I feel it absolves the addict of any responsibility

6. I feel the program takes a rather complacent stance on abuse.

 

Any thoughts... not opinions though because we frown on that around here ;)



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It's hard to dance with the devil on your back so shake him off.


Senior Member

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Posts: 355
Date:

Hi Heather
Nice to meet you.

1) The program is many things to many different people. I was attracted very much by the "take what you like and leave the rest" aspect....I'm not at all attracted to rules or dogmatics and I really enjoy the idea that I can enjoy the aspects of al-anon that work for me and respectfully disregard those that don't. Some folks do indeed take the program more 'seriously" than my palate enjoys and that's fine because it's really not my job to worry about what anyone else thinks. I'm just here to try out a lot of tried and true ways of coping with the effects of alcoholism and grateful to everyone past and present that has come together to share and create an amazing resource.

2) I don't know what rules you are referring to specifically so it would be cool if you could expand on this? There are a few guidelines on sharing that I believe are in place to make it easier for people to share without feeling judged. But those generally refer to other people not interfering with another person's share and not the share itself if that makes sense.

3) I'm also agnostic. It hasn't been a problem for me. Other people believe in various HP's and refer to them specifically. Once again, not my business. What other people believe is up to them. I think I've managed to navigate the program pretty well without subscribing to any religion or particular deity.

4) I haven't encountered this so once again I'm not sure what you mean. They do suggest you try different groups; perhaps you have been attending one that isn't a good fit for you?

5) Al-anon isn't about the addict. The addicts responsibility won't grow or lesson just because we get less or more angry. That's kind of the whole point- reducing OUR responsibility for other people....I actually cannot make someone be responsible for their actions just by obsessing about it or trying to explain or beg or force them to do so. The addict is going to do what they do regardless of whether we feel miserable about it or not. Ergo, maybe we don't have to feel miserable to no end?

6) The program isn't prescriptive and it can't make anyone do anything so I am not sure what you would like to see it "do about' abuse. I think it aims to allow a safe space for people to share regardless of what they are going through. Taking a hard line on any specific topic is likely to push away people experiencing that particular thing and, also, al-anon in my experience assumes that we all have the ability to make the right decisions for ourselves given some support and the right tools.

I'm glad to hear you see great value in what you have experienced so far. I hope you'll share more about your journey!





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~*Service Worker*~

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Hugs Heather,

Have you tried different meetings? I really struggled with what you are experiencing as well except the issue with the higher power. Have you looked into getting a sponsor?? You take the "garbage" to your sponsor and share ESH at meetings sometimes those discussions elicit great conversations .. then there is the after meetings which I miss a great deal and for me that was where the real fellowship of alanon came into play. It took me a LONG time to figure out how to share and I still struggle because I just speak a different language that is Alanon however I don't use all the "right" terms .. it doesn't make me wrong in sharing .. I just share differently. That's ok.

Hugs .. Keep coming back .. :)

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"I cannot learn other people's lessons for them.  They must do the work for themselves, and they will do it when they are ready." - Louise Hay



Senior Member

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Welcome Heather,
Thank-you for sharing. Some of these thoughts have bounced around my head a couple times,

#3) I grew up having grandparents who were very religous. As I grew into an adult I came what I call bitter towards the term religous, many debates about God and what not. Until it was put to me this way....God=Good Orderly Direction. So enter my belief of a hp without attaching it to the religous form. Looking at it like that for me, I was able to grow into my own understanding of my spiritually. Free of any religon.

This forum has been great for as I learn more about myself and how to carry on with an active A.


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When it Rains, Look for Rainbows. When it's Dark, Look for Stars-unknown



~*Service Worker*~

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Hi and welcome. I like your questions very much. I think it's good to explore the reasons why and get a deeper understanding of the program.

1. The program takes itself seriously because for most this is life and death. I was ill with dealing with alcoholism being effected. I was an enabler and that was slowly killing my lived ones. I take this program very serious indeed. My quality of life depends on it and my relationships depend on it. Also I haven't been with a happier more joyful bunch of people.

2. The rules as you put it are to maintain a healthy meeting for all members. It's about learning the solution and not being stuck in the problem. It's for the greater good. Have you ever been to a group who don't follow the traditions? It becomes a misery fest with very little growth. After listening to 12 people whinge and moan I'm about ready to crawl under my duvet and not come back. So the whinging and moaning has little place at an alanon meeting. Afterwards and with sponsor yes of course but during a meeting we keep the focus on how it was, what alanon gave us, and how it's been bettered, that way we all get to learn and hear something that might help.

3. The God thing. I struggled with too but now I see it as moving my beliefs  and attitude away from me as God.

4. Militant sharing? Not sure what you mean. If it's about the chairperson keeping the focus on alanon then thank goodness. I've been to meetings where people have clear deeper mental health issues and they would hijack a meeting easily. I've came from a place where I wasn't heard or listened too. In alanon I'm heard for the first time so I'm grateful.

5. I think your talking about the disease model that alanon promotes. For me it's way better than the moral model. I.e. he was a bad horrible person v a sick person. The idea of a sick person freed me from the hate and anger and bitterness. Again I'm so grateful.

6. Alanon defines abuse like nothing else. I was being abused and dint even know it. Alanon taught me my worth and gave me self esteem and then and only then was I able to be strong enough to say no. I'm a proud grateful member that wouldn't change a single thing. Stick with it.



-- Edited by el-cee on Monday 20th of March 2017 03:04:16 PM

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~*Service Worker*~

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Aloha Mamabear and thanks for the courageous share.  I could have authored it because early on that was me...critical of the program and the fellowship and so ....I left.  I was told that if I did leave chances are the problems would get worse and they did in spades.  My alcoholic/addict wife continued to drink and use and disappear and...and...and I got sicker sicker sicker.   The suggestion (only one of them) was that I give the program a 90 meetings in 90 days attempt before acting on the decision to leave however I was coming from a lower spot and just decided to stay, sit, listen, learn.  They knew more about what I was going thru than I so I needed to learn what they knew before continuing to judge and often condemn them and it.

I came into the program without knowing and came to understand that not only didn't I know...I didn't know that I didn't know.  I was dumb as a stick so I just followed the suggestions to newcomers. We had 439 meetings a week in the area I was attending recovery....AA, Al-Anon, Children of and Alateen.  Was there a problem??  Yeppers and I was grateful for all of the services available to help me learn including college.

I believe today that this is the most cunning, powerful and baffling, fatal disease on the face of the planet with consequences of insanity and/or death for those affected by it. I was a recovery therapist and have heard your complaints often.  The only real recovery process I have seen work has been the 12 step/12 tradition programs.

I was born and raised into a conservative Christian religion, educated into it, served it, taught it and studied theology and more and today no longer practice it because it never worked for me and in fact created more dissension and insanity as the real diseases of addiction over ran my families.  I was also born and raised within alcoholism and drug addiction and the practice of the 12/step and traditions programs have brought me sobriety, serenity and sanity much more deeply.

From reading your share I believe that the last two items are most important for you.

No we do not absolve the addict or alcoholic of responsibility and neither do we blame or judge having carried the responsibility of doing that in the past which made my situations worse and never better.  My alcoholic addict knew the problems her drinking, using and other activities were causing herself and others and outside judgement and blame just increased the need to anestethize (?)  even deeper.   

Issues of abuse sometimes are better answered by other professionals and if you have or are suffering from abuse I would seek help quickly considering the fatal nature of the disease of addiction.

I hope you keep coming back and bring an open mind with yourself....Al-Anon is greatly successful at getting sanity and serenity back to the victim of our disease.

((((hugs)))) smile



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a4l


~*Service Worker*~

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Hey welcome! I echo the shop around for meetings sentiment. Find one that fits. Keep coming back here, too!

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"When one door is closed, don't you know,another is open?" Bob Marley.

a4l


~*Service Worker*~

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And on number 5, absolving an addict of responsibility, i felt that way too. But at the same time I also had assumed the role of enforcing responsibility,not terribly effectively, but god loves a tryer lol lol. I didn't take too kindly to letting go of that role. It's a step one thing, powerless over others and lifes become unmanageable. Once it sunk in--collision really--that i was powerless over anothers addiction, that became and remains an issue I work to let go of. The addict and accountability are things that can do my head in majorly and while i can set boundaries there is always an element of powerlessness when dealing with addiction. Is it absolution to remove the focus off of anothers behavior? Yes and no. Yes, it absolves us of the stress of trying to control the uncontrollable. No its not a form of absolution for the addict because ultimately it leaves them to look at it when theres nothing to act as distraction. So don't throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet mamabear, it all starts coming together with time and practice. Glad you're here.

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"When one door is closed, don't you know,another is open?" Bob Marley.



Senior Member

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Hello mamabear,
Other people have given some great answers to your questions. You said you do not know if Alanon is for you, there are other types of support groups it depends on where you live. You can get an individual sponsor in Alanon also. There is narconon for people living with drug addicts. There is a network of domestic violence support groups in the US that anyone can go to. There is a crisis line and 211 that might have more information, hospitals and social services might have pamphlets with lists of other agencies. Good luck and welcome to the forum.

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Sharon 



~*Service Worker*~

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Hello mama bear, welcome-- I agree with everything that has been posted so far so I have nothing add .



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Betty

THE HIGHEST FORM OF WISDOM IS KINDNESS

Talmud


~*Service Worker*~

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Welcome mama bear to MIP - glad you found us and glad that you shared your questions. Your questions are good to ask and I too agree with most answers above. I believe what helped me most was the suggestion of keeping an open mind. Listen for the similarities and not the differences.

I too had some ideas about the meetings, program, etc. when I arrived but found my comfort zone after attending a couple different meetings. Most come to Al-Anon with distorted thinking and a warped sense of roles/responsibilities. What Al-Anon has shown to me is that I truly am only responsible for me (yes - little ones too). I am not accountable, responsible, etc. for the actions of my qualifier and when I fix, control, correct, etc. for them I am doing for them what they should do for themselves (enabling).

What I've always respected about the program is the personal journey aspect. I also support the suggestion of a sponsor - mine kept me going when I wasn't sure if it was for me, and I am now grateful as I've been able to work it and find my joy and self again!

Keep coming back - glad you are part of the journey!!

__________________

Practice the PAUSE...Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you will avoid doing and saying things you will later regret.  ~~~~  Lori Deschene

 

 



Senior Member

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Hello mama bear and welcome. Though I walked through the doors of alanon many years ago for the first time I still remember how angry I was at basically everything and mainly my then AH. Why was I the one that needed this program when he was still drinking and causing havoc. Well it was suggested because I was so focused on my AH behavior and trying to fix it that I landed in the hospital with a nervous breakdown. Yes the first meeting was hard but the warmth and structure of the group felt so comfortable. I was pretty out of touch with any form of religion or HP them too. I thought of the weather then as my HP as I knew for sure it was stronger than me and I sure as heck couldn't control it. My thoughts have changed over the years and are much more realistic. I am so thankful for alanon and my alanon family. Keep coming Back

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HES



~*Service Worker*~

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Hi mama, it sounds like AlAnon may not be a good fit for your world view, personal view, and expectations. The last thing I want to do is to try to talk someone into something they find distasteful, for that reminds me of what I tried to do for two years with my qualifier and alcohol.

AlAnon is a choice, not an obligation, a group of people affected adversely by the disease of alcoholism, who are willing to try a different way, often after all else has failed...this is how I got here. If that's not you, don't sweat it, go work what you see as a better way...it's all good

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Paul

"...when we try to control others, we lose the ability to manage our own lives."  - Paths to Recovery 



Newbie

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Much of your feedback has been helpful and again there is a lot of the program I love so far. If I thought it was a terrible program I wouldn't even bother to try and understand. I big flaw of mine is I'm a fixer, I like to fix situations and I like those things to be done sooner rather than later... obviously something that I need to get a handle on and stop doing. I am also a big believer in accountability, no one is harder on me than I am so I struggle with those who do not feel that way too.

Again I have already seen some positive change in how I react to my husbands storms which is enough encouragement for me to keep trying even if it all doesn't make sense right away.

Thank you





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It's hard to dance with the devil on your back so shake him off.


~*Service Worker*~

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mamabear - I can relate to the fixer as well as the accountability.....It took me a long, long while to realize that what I value and thought all persons believed in (truth, integrity, faithfulness, commitment, etc.) can be different - very different depending upon the person. My sponsor once suggested to me that 3+4 = 7 but so does 6+1 and 5+2....it was my ego that kept me trying to fix, change and control others as well as holding them accountable...

I do now believe that a power greater than I has a larger picture and it's not my job to fix others or even point out how very wrong I think they are. I try to accept things as they are (even when they are beyond crazy as this disease affects thinking, actions, attitudes, etc.) and just keep my opinions and suggestions to myself unless/until asked.

By focusing on me, things have calmed down around me. By working the program as best I can, I feel more sane. Lastly by considering what I can change in me vs. beyond me, I've found my confidence and joy again. I can also be an 'over-thinker' so had to simplify my thoughts and sometimes just do it without analyzing the pros/cons/etc.

I heard early on that I can't think myself to right actions but I can act my way to right thinking. I found this to be so, so true as all I tried before recovery was ineffective long term. Keep coming back - it's all about progress which you've seen some --- not perfection. (((Hugs)))

__________________

Practice the PAUSE...Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you will avoid doing and saying things you will later regret.  ~~~~  Lori Deschene

 

 



Senior Member

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mamabear,
I am an adult child of an alcoholic, I spent years trying to control everything because I had no control over my childhood. My father was very strict when it came to accountability without being accountable himself. I got into relationships with men that drank because I wanted to make their lives better. The whole time I was making my life worse. Alanon has helped me to see that I cannot control someone else's drinking. I could not make them accountable for themselves either. I am glad that you are getting some benefits from the program. Everyone's situation is unique, that why you will hear "Take what you need and leave the rest".

__________________

Sharon 



Member

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I was totally indignant the first few meetings because I was irritated that the doctor who ordered my husband to AA had ordered me Al-Anon.  I was all like "But I'm not the one who needs help" but I eventually conceded the doctor knew what he was doing.

Try a different meeting, as others have suggested, if the one you're attending doesn't work for you.  You're likely going to find at least one person you butt heads with in every group.  There's one in our group who often uses his sharing to do thinly veiled criticism of those who don't volunteer to chair, so I get it that some people are almost militant with regard to things.  Meetings are in short supply in my area, so I have learned to just ignore this person when they get on their soapbox.

Not sure what to say with regard to the higher power.  There's an older man in our group who is Agnostic, and he said that he considers the higher power the spirit of a deceased relative that he loved, and felt that he could always get good advice from.

Hoping it continues to help you.



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