Will al-anon work for me?

Old 07-29-2008, 04:59 PM
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Will al-anon work for me?

I dont want to come across as cynical, but i have to say i am very dubious about taking the plunge and going to my first al-anon meeting.

I have two abusive alcoholic parents who i am living with and will be living with for the forseeable future or at least until i can find a place cheap enough to move into. I have a brother and a sister and we have formed a closely knit unit, almost a bubble of unity. Weve only developed this to defend ourselves from the pain of our horrible home. We hold pride in how strong we are in dealing with our situation at home, but alot remains unsaid with regards to feelings and emotions.

We are christians, but not at all religious. I cant imagine doing anything but cringing upon walking into (now this may be stereotyping), almost a cult-like gathering of people with much tamer situations than ours. We all have serious intimacy issues and i dont like the idea of all the "sharing" and hand-holding i imagine will be the standard in these meetings. Surely there is no point trying to recover from something which will continue without doubt?
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Old 07-29-2008, 05:35 PM
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I think one of the good things about recovery is you don't have to do anything you don't want to, so you don't have to share or hold hands at an Al Anon meeting, I've been to plenty were people don't want to do these things and no one excludes them for choosing not to.

My family still is crazy as ever, sometimes I feel like saying 'stay tuned for the next weekly episod..', so yes the madness does continue but I am learning how to live my own life, with my own family (my daughter) and how not to continue the madness.

The thinking that comes along with belonging to a family affected by alcoholism can be very subtle but it really effects how we live on lives. For me, it is about unlearning all the craziness I was taught and finding a more serne way to live.
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:22 PM
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I would have trouble with all the hand-holding and such as well. I don't think i'd fit into those meetings... sounds like a recipe for trouble for me. I don't really fit in anywhere. But anyway, aren't they for people with the actual alcohol problem though? O_o
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:24 PM
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It won't hurt to go, that's how you can look at it.
Like lizw said, you don't have to do anything you don't want to at the meeting. No one forces you at all.
It's a great place to make good life long friends though, who know what you're going through.
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:27 PM
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Hm, i'll look into it whenever i'm allowed more independence and privacy, still working on that unfortunately.
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:11 PM
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You at least are lucky you have your brother and sister to cling to.

Things were so bad in our family that I trusted nobody not even my own brothers and sisters.

My companions were my books.

There are people in Alanon who had even less.

The same little "bubble of unity" that you form with your siblings is the same little "bubble of unity" that the people in Alanon form to defend against their pain.

Alanon may seem "cult like" to people who don't understand how it works but there are no chains on the doors.

Nobody had more issues with intimacy and sharing than I did when I walked into those rooms for the first time.

I felt ashamed and weak. I looked at my shoes the whole time I was there, but I listened to the voices..... They spoke of "recovery"....and at the end of the meeting a woman got up and hugged me.....I cannot recall ever being hugged by a total stranger before...

"It will get better.." was all she said to me, and smiled and even though I never said a word at that first meeting I knew that somehow these people understood what I was feeling.

I knew I didn't want to hurt anymore and I knew I wanted even one other human being in the world to know that I had emotions too.... I wanted "recovery"...

I still have intimacy issues . I still get confused. I still cringe sometimes when people try to touch me or hug me.....but I am getting better......that is what recovery is about stepping outside of the bubble and realizing that not everybody in the world wants to use me or hurt me.

As you have heard before. Nobody compels you to do anything at a meeting. Despite your misgivings you will in fact be amazed at the wonderful ability it will give you to choose what you want to do....

If you try at least once and you decide for certain that Alanon/Acoa is not for you then I suggest you all try and seek some professional counselling elsewhere because you all cannot remain locked inside your own selves forever.....
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Old 07-30-2008, 12:41 AM
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I agree with the above posters.
A couple of things I would like to add. Meetings are not all alike. Just groups of people and just as people are different, if you don't like one, it doesn't mean they are all like that. One of the slogans- take what you like and leave the rest.

Also- it is okay not to talk or share anything. I learned much about not just Alanon- AA- Drugs- but myself by going and listening. One of the things that also helped me. With counseling (a one to one) it was easy for me to be insecure- not trust my counselor. Think to myself, she doesn't get it- doesn't understand.. It was different when I sat around a table with 6 people who had similar experiences. They knew... and I just knew they knew.. I didn't have to "explain" my feelings. It was also a lot easier to trust in a group.. I knew if I had an idea- and 6 sets of eyebrows shot-up.. well I may want to rethink that one!! Keep in mind- people talk.. reason things out. But unless you ASK for input- no one will offer any. That input- at least in my home group, we stived to base it on our experience- what we had done in the past- or feelings we had. What it was like, what happened, what it is like now.
There really is no right or wrong answer- good or bad one..
That is my experience with alanon. They were and are there when I needed and need them.

Lastly- I can understand that feeling of hopelessness. That the addict/alcoholic doesn't change. Sadly in my family, it is true- none of the addicts/alcoholics are sober and in recovery (shhh.. some people, are functioning better... so we are pretending.. they are sober) But- my experience is not everyone's. There are people who do get sober and into recovery. But the greatest gift- regardless of whether or not they are in recovery. Alanon and yes SR has helped me, enhanced my day and my life.
I'm grateful to them- everyone who walked in the door or comes to these boards.

Sounds like.. you may possibly be feeling pressured to go to Alanon. Oh- sometimes some of us who have gone- we want everyone to have that same good feeling we are feeling.. No doubt in my mind, I've been guilty of that. Even though Alanon was very clear- (no doubt I will botch the quote here)- it is a program of attraction, not promotion. The really good news- there is no date on the calendar. No deadline. If you feel like going, they will be there. By the way- I was lucky.. my homegroup was not real huggie.. just like in the normal world.. we kinda had to get to really know each other and get comfortable first!!
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Old 07-30-2008, 05:48 AM
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:ghug2Encouraging words, thanks so much for replying and caring. I realise i am blessed to have my siblings and i suppose in a way i think i already have people who understand my situation. But i realise that they also have an unhealthy way of thinking because of how we have been brought up - not to trust, and not believe good things can happen to us. I read that that was one common trait shared in AcoAs. You mentioned that there was no deadline for Al-anon... but tell me is it a case of, the earlier the better?? i dont want to have irreversible issues by the time i want to start my own family!
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Old 07-30-2008, 07:33 AM
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With recovery, it is always a case of "the earlier the better". I started seeing therapists when I was in my early 20s. It wasn't until my late 30s that I figured out something pretty drastic needed to change. I found a good therapist, I found this little corner of recovery, and I set about making some significant changes.

Oh how I wished I would have done in my 20s what I did in my 30s. But that was long ago, in a different place in time, pre-internet.

I have exactly one experience with meetings, it was an AA meeting that a friend (at the time) was required to attend by court order. He didn't want to go alone and asked me to go with him. While AA is not AlAnon, I understand the meetings are similar. When everyone went around introducing themselves, I simply stated my name and said I was accompanying my friend. I said nothing else the entire time. No one offered me hugs, no one said a word to me, and I made no effort to say anything to anyone else. But I listened. And I learned a tremendous amount of the mind of an alcoholic by sitting through that one meeting - that was about 15 years ago now, and I still remember the stories very clearly.

It certainly can't hurt you to go listen. The most you have to lose is the time you spent there. If you don't like it, or feel there's no value in it, you don't have to go again. My spiritual beliefs make it difficult for me to attend AlAnon, so I have a personal therapist instead. To each their own.
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:14 AM
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Hi Raw,

I can understand your reservations about attending an al-anon meetings - for me trying anything new can be difficult for me.

The meetings I attend are very healthy meetings. We have a round table format, no cross talk (which means no one will ask questions, comments, or provide answers to the person speaking), sharing is optional, no one is required to read or share, just say Pass when it is your turn, we do hold hands and say the Lord's pray at the end of the meeting - if you wish not to hold hands or pray - You do not have to.

You would be given a Newcomer pkg w/ a phone list of members available for questions if you would like, but you are not required to take any information.

We suggest (& it is only a suggestion) that you attend 6 meetings before deciding if the meetings are for you or not.

We have mothers, fathers, adult children, spouses, siblings and friends, etc. of alcoholics in our group - some are still actively around those alcoholics some haven't had contact with them in many, many years.

The focus of Al-Anon is learning to recover with how we have been affected by another person's drinking.

Being raised in a strong organized religous family - I too wondered about the "cult" type things I had heard - but never in my life had I felt such love, acceptance and peace in a group of people in my home group.

Hope you find a great place for fellowship and recovery - whether it be in a meeting or on SR.
Wishing you Serenity & Joy,
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Old 07-30-2008, 11:55 AM
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Hi raw,

In my al-anon meeting, there was no hand-holding or heavy religious overtone. They said a prayer at the end, but it a sort of non-denominational thing, more comforting than anything.

I guess my point is that there are all kinds of meetings out there. You might want to try a few different ones, and if it doesn't feel right, then stop. It doesn't cost anything, and you may trip over some gem of wisdom that you couldn't find any other way.

You can leave whenever you want - I left my home and rented a room near the college, very cheap and what a relief. There are situations like that in nearly every city and town in the world; check the newspaper. There might be something else that is compelling you to stay in that situation. maybe a counselor can help you figure out what it is.....I know that counseling was much more helpful to me than al-anon.
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Old 08-08-2008, 03:17 AM
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what they said to me was try 6 meetings and then decide. take waht u like and leave the rest. and its a gentle program so u can go at ur own pace. ive found it more of a blessing than anything else because above all i can leave and whenver i go back alanon is always there to help me.
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Old 08-25-2008, 10:39 AM
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I went to my first ACA meeting this weekend, so I kind of understand your concerns.

I was pretty nervous about going, but once I was there I felt like the hardest part was over -- getting there.

There were only 5 other people there as it's Saturday during the summer and people aren't as consistent, but everyone introduced themselves to me and let me know to interrupt any time I have questions.

We held hands at the beginning and said the Serenity prayer. Then we all went around the room, saying our name and how we were feeling that day.

The morning's topic was introduced and we got to talk either about that specific topic or anything else that was bothering us or that we wanted to share. I was told if I didn't want to talk or didn't have anything to say, just to say pass.

At the end we all held hands again and said the Lord's prayer. I was told in advance that there is hugging at the end. I found this to be a little akward but it wasn't enough to make me not attend a meeting again. I also felt that if I didn't want to hug anyone, I didn't have to. It's not like I was forced or anything, and it was actually nice to be hugged.

Everyone was very warm and welcoming. I felt very encouraged to keep coming back.

They did let me know that they are a self supporting meeting and they collect donations at the beginning of every meeting, but that I was under no obligation to contribute.

Hope this helps a bit. I didn't find anything the least bit "cultish" about the meeting. I'm so glad I went.
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Old 08-25-2008, 07:49 PM
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I was so nervous going to my first meeting. I wept during parts of it because I recognised myself and life, and intuitively knew this was a way to health. It took a long time before I shared because I had learned to NEVER share with anyone or it would be used against me.

One thing I have learned in my short 6 months of recovery is that I was not parented well and have lots to learn. From simple stuff most people take for granted, up to complicated emotional/personal relationship type stuff. The meetings help. But what really teaches me well is the Alanon literature. My favorites are: Courage to Change, and Hope for Today, which are daily readers with short passages to dwell on. My books are my personal life coach!
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Old 08-26-2008, 07:08 AM
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It took a long time before I shared because I had learned to NEVER share with anyone or it would be used against me.
First 2 years of therapy for me, I didn't feel like I could fully open up to the therapist for this reason. Oy. Now my poor therapist hears it ALL! My husband knows what's going on in my therapy sessions so he can be prepared if I exhibit some odd behavior for a day or two after my session. I don't hide my parents from anyone (though I may give them warning in advance). I also have finally stopped apologizing for them (largely thanks to this board!).

It can be very hard to break that family taboo of "not airing your dirty laundry".
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Old 08-26-2008, 08:24 AM
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Thanks guys. i have found out where they have the most local meetings, but im going to one tomorrow just a bit further out to maintain my anonymity. Im not half as dubious as i was before. thanks for the insight x
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:52 AM
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Best Wishes on your meeting!
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