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It's all about the serenity. . .

Old 12-09-2010, 04:46 PM
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It's all about the serenity. . .

My daughter is away with my family this whole week. I have a lot of free time so I decided I'm going to go to as many Alanon/CODA/FA meetings as I can. Yes, I am one of those people who has made all the excuses in the world as to why Alanon just "isn't for me."

A few months ago, I went to my first Adult Children of Alcoholics meeting. It was a disaster (very disappointing). First of all, the person who was supposed to open the room came late, forgot the key, etc. And once the meeting started late, I wasn't quite feeling the energy. I reverted to my, "Yep. I don't think Alanon is for me" thinking.

Today, I went back to that same Adult Children of Alcoholics meeting with an open mind. It was a great meeting! I got so much out of it! I was feeling the ESH from people there and lots of peace, calm & serenity. I'm not one who is really into "God" (though I do have my own concept of "Higher Powers"). I can understand the criticism --though I don't quite agree-- about how people in twelve-step programs seem very "cult-like."

I recall a counselor at one of my husband's Intensive Outpatient Program tell one of the alcoholics/addicts during a family group session that unless the alcoholic/addict has tried & rigorously worked a 12-step program --and then if it didn't work--, he wasn't going to accept their criticism of AA & NA. I remember listening carefully because I could relate to those who questioned & resisted 12-step programs. Basically, why knock something we haven't tried? (I don't think the counselor meant, "try" as in go to a meeting or two but really work all 12-steps rigorously with a sponsor many times over).

I don't follow (or work) the 12-steps. I'll read them, maybe even pick and choose one or two to examine in a very general way. I don't have a sponsor. I don't go to regular meetings.

In addition to being so deeply affected by the alcoholism/addiction of my loved ones, I have also been trained to question, problematize, and critique everything so it's easy to start questioning Alanon's validity and effectiveness.

I realize that Alanon and 12-steps in general may not be the recovery method/program for everyone. People are different with unique, specific issues. However, I have seen enough people both addicts and the "friends & family of addicts," who have been helped tremendously by their 12-step programs. That is good enough for me. I'm going to try and go to one meeting (or two) per evening this whole week.

In the end, it's all about working at achieving continued serenity in my life.
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:59 PM
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Go for it. The worst that can happen is that you meet a bunch of people whose life experiences you can relate to. People who make you feel at home, who laugh at themselves for their attempts at getting the A to stop drinking, who are angry and crying and happy and serene... people who don't judge, who let you be who you are, and who let you laugh and cry and be angry and happy and serene as needed.

Every time I go back to Al-Anon after a break, the first 3-4 meetings have me wondering why I'm there and being irritated. And then after another couple of meetings, I start going every day again.

I think I sort of walked in there expecting to be handed a manual, saying "Here's how you make the A in your life stop drinking" and there would be a list of things to check off and then you'd be done. And then I found out that all they did was talk.

I keep coming back for the feeling that I'm surrounded by people who actually understand. People I don't have to explain to why some days are harder than other for no reason, or why I can laugh and get mad at the drop of a hat. People who can admit all the stupid things we do. And if that was all I ever got out of it, it would be worth it.
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Old 12-10-2010, 12:59 PM
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. . . So, I hit two meetings yesterday. I will try to go to two today. I really appreciate how the meetings are started by setting them up and framing them: 1) to avoid gossip, 2) offer solutions rather than dwelling on the past or problems, 3) share ESH & 4) to allow people to be who they are honestly without judgment. This is how I want to live my life in general and allow others in my life to live theirs, regardless of alcoholism/addiction.

I recall hearing on a talk show years ago how the home should be a "soft place to fall" and safe from the harsh, cold outside world. Of course, to a codie/enabler/savior, it was like, "Yes, that is the kind of home I am going to create!" Perhaps, I had "underestimated" (more like denial) that I had married an active A. (I was determined! I have the warmest, most loving heart. I can do this! I will do this! True love conquers all --even alcoholism & addiction! Yeah right!) Of course, in practice, having an active alcoholic husband with his champion codie wife (that would be me!) in the home was filled with chaos, unpredictability, and tension (and therefore, very unsafe, not to mention very very lonely & emotionally barren). The only thing I remember being able to predict was that my life was unpredictable and chaotic. I'd have Plan A, B, C, & D all ready. . . even with all the planning and anticipation for every back-up scenario "just in case," I was still running around putting out fires and treading water, staying afloat with a ton of weights hanging from my feet. I was applauding myself for being so amazing . . . but every year, I just felt my zest for life, my creativity, and my passion were all being sucked out of me! I was so exhausted. I was also become angrier & more resentful. I was constantly on edge (& feeling like I was becoming emotionally unhinged). It frightens me when I look back at what I did to myself. Of course, back then, I asked myself "Why is he doing this to me? to us?"

Being in the Alanon meetings, it was really calming. I observed the others in the room, seeking calm and serenity. I got the feeling that people there found the meeting a safe place --that soft place to fall amidst chaos and madness. I just wanted to soak up those feelings and keep them with me.

Because I am not living with an active A and that my A husband (from whom I am living separately) is in recovery, I feel removed from the chaos of active addiction.

I really really want to work at letting go of my past, to release that little girl who was raised to be an emotional caretaker & enabler, to forgive my parents (detach with love when I have to, since they are unrecovered sober codie-alcoholic partners) & start a new relationship with my parents free from anger, resentment and blame with some boundaries so I don't get sucked into their drama. I think I want to work on that.

When little (& big) things bother me spiraling me downward into a funk, sometimes even a panic, I remind myself to be thankful. This time last year, my AH was drinking like he was on a suicide mission. Today, he is in recovery. Our Easter, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Father's Day, Labor Day, Halloween, & Thanksgiving this year were spent with my AH sober--something I could not imagine. (I would call this miraculous.) Today, I am accepting my own need for recovery. I am letting go of my "hang-ups" about 12-step programs so I can benefit from them (so my family can benefit from them). There are no guarantees what might happen in an hour or later this evening. For now, I am in a place that is good. My biggest challenge, I anticipate, (yet trying really hard *not* to anticipate) will be if my husband relapses, how will *I* respond. . .Pause button, please! Stop fast-forwarding! I remind myself to stay in this moment. Take things as they come. Don't look back (checklist: working on) and don't look too far into the future (checklist: working on)!


. . . For this moment, I am serene.




Thank you for letting me indulge.
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Old 12-10-2010, 01:32 PM
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I recall hearing on a talk show years ago how the home should be a "soft place to fall" and safe from the harsh, cold outside world. Of course, to a codie/enabler/savior, it was like, "Yes, that is the kind of home I am going to create!" Perhaps, I had "underestimated" (more like denial) that I had married an active A. (I was determined! I have the warmest, most loving heart. I can do this! I will do this! True love conquers all --even alcoholism & addiction! Yeah right!) Of course, in practice, having an active alcoholic husband with his champion codie wife (that would be me!) in the home was filled with chaos, unpredictability, and tension (and therefore, very unsafe, not to mention very very lonely & emotionally barren). The only thing I remember being able to predict was that my life was unpredictable and chaotic. I'd have Plan A, B, C, & D all ready. . . even with all the planning and anticipation for every back-up scenario "just in case," I was still running around putting out fires and treading water, staying afloat with a ton of weights hanging from my feet. I was applauding myself for being so amazing . . . but every year, I just felt my zest for life, my creativity, and my passion were all being sucked out of me! I was so exhausted. I was also become angrier & more resentful. I was constantly on edge (& feeling like I was becoming emotionally unhinged). It frightens me when I look back at what I did to myself. Of course, back then, I asked myself "Why is he doing this to me? to us?"
I think I'm going to borrow that and use that to explain what my life was like, living with an actively drinking A. Because that's exactly what it was like. Perfectly put.

And I'm applauding you for getting yourself to two meetings in one day!!! Serenity now!
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Old 12-10-2010, 02:57 PM
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lillamy, please borrow away! I guess I could claim that it's "my original" experience, but I'm afraid that far too many of us on this forum have had very similary experiences. . . Actually, I'm really happy and glad I'm not alone. Thank you.
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Old 12-10-2010, 02:57 PM
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Smile

Yes, serenity now! Woo hoo!
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:12 PM
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I loved alanon and the other counseling I did at the time of and after the separation from XAH. I started going thru EAP at work during lunch. XAH knew and didn't like that at all. Too bad, so sad.

After the divorce I continued the Alanon at lunches and did it after dinner (and ironically the meetings often were in the community center across the street from his favorite bar where you could see him sitting in the window guzzling his alcohol while his little daughter who lost everything, her house, her family, her dog, her toys, her routine, was abandoned to spending her evening with strangers).

I also continued with our marriage counselor once a week since she knew him and had some insights (not a good marriage counselor, but was a great get-rid-of-the-jerk counselor: she reminded me what Shakespeare said: If you love someone, they are in your heart forever; if you hate them they are in your mind forever).

I tore myself apart and inside out, felt like I scrubbed out gunk from my veins and the marrow of my bones. And within 3 months of the actual divorce, 10 pounds of weight was gone without trying or dieting. 15 now. I had huge brown circles under my eyes--gone. My hair and eyelashes were falling out--that stopped and my hair came in shiny and my eyelashes thicker. I used to break out every day in hives when I was with the alkie. That stopped. The last time it happened was last Xmas when I was in Target and the lady in front of me starting yelling at the cashier--wham, instant hives from stress and conflict, and it didn't even involve me!

I used to be so quiet at work, now I'm warm and funny and engaging. I was like that when XAH met me. I'm more so now. I've gotten two promotions at work. As I mentioned in another thread, last June I started seeing someone. We went on the Epic cruise ship and HE didn't mind sitting with me unlike Alkie X who wouldn't sit with me on our honeymoon because he was scared it would upset his mommy. (And btw the ice bar is mega cool, literally). Trust an alkie to make a cruise miserable.

You don't just want to get rid of the alkie and his toxicity--you want to get rid of every trace of him in your life and from your brain. There's a book by a man named Amen, The Brain in Love, and it discusses about how your significant other becomes imprinted in the synapses of your brain (the inability to leave is not always codependency, altho don't be too quick to dismiss codependency. Even for non codies, a significant other, no matter how happy or unhappy they've made you become inbedded in parts of your brain and can sabotage your efforts to move on or move out).

Therapy and pushing yourself into other activities (I did a book club, line dancing and Lock and Key parties--and had a BLAST), reprograms your brain and really can erase the toxicity of the alkie and the relationship from your mind.

I encourage you enthusiastically to keep on. Find a therapist to guide you who is helpful; find an alanon group. Find non-alkie fun activities, clean out the gunk and move in the new stuff.

For all of you who have struggled so long in despair and confusion because someone you loved and entwined your life with betrayed you with alcohol and turned on you, making your life scary and miserable and bringing chaos and irrationality and unfairness into it, I hope all of you find a path out to what is BOUND almost GUARANTEED to be a better life.

Invest in yourself instead of the alkie (you'll be able to make better use of the investment than s/he'll ever be able to). And the best most cost effective way to invest in yourself is through things like AlAnon, therapy, meetup.com, classes at the Y or community college.

This is YOU!!!!


:day6
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Old 12-10-2010, 05:47 PM
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Good for you for going back WITH AN OPEN MIND!I see lots of posts from people have been put off by this or that at alanon.There are many differnt meetings, each with their own energy and mix of people..if you don't like one, try another.We also say in my group try it six times and we'll gladly refund your misery if you choose.
By the time people get to alanon, usually they are in pretty bad shape, generally no one goes on thier happiest day. It can be overwhelming, the God thing gets alot of people, lucky for me I was so desperate and the sight of all these happy people saying I didn't cause it, couldn't cure or control it was like ice water in hell to me.I wanted some serenity as I had NONE.
Much like the addict, I had to hit my bottom and SURRENDER..it's been over a year for me and I go 2-3 times a week..people see a big differnce in me..it's truly been a gift. Glad to see you opening up and helping yourself!
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Old 12-10-2010, 06:16 PM
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keepinon:
Much like the addict, I had to hit my bottom and SURRENDER..

So true!
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