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How Would You (Or Have you) Handled telling your family you're in AlAnon?

Old 01-24-2011, 12:31 PM
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How Would You (Or Have you) Handled telling your family you're in AlAnon?

I've been in AlAnon for over a yr. And I am so grateful for the program and this site.

My qualifier is my son in law - who I believe to be a dry alcoholic. I haven't told my daughter (or my SIL) that I go to meetings. The times I've attended when she's been in town, I said I was attending a Women's Group. (which it sort of is - an all women AlAnon meeting.) It just feels really weird lying to her. She is coming back in town -by herself - in Feb and I know I'll be going to meetings so that's the reason I'm looking for some insight.

I've felt guilty not sharing this with my daughter. But I'm also afraid of the reaction sharing would cause. I think she'll be stunned and upset. But my SIL, who can have really inappropriate reactions to the slightest incident - will bring more trouble to their home. His history is to sulk and say nothing to us, but then make it difficult for my daughter by being angry with her parents and putting her in the middle.

My sponsor suggested I keep my motivation in mind. And when I think of that I feel:
(1) I don't like lying to my daughter. We've always been very close & honest with each other.
(2) I would like her to know there are healthy options to his behavior. But then that places me in a judgmental position about her husband, I know.

If I don't tell her . . . I know I will continue to get healthy and pray that they do too.

Any insight y'all have I would really appreciate. Thank you!
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by coldmtn View Post
I've felt guilty not sharing this with my daughter. But I'm also afraid of the reaction sharing would cause. I think she'll be stunned and upset.
Your daughter's reaction isn't under your control.

You don't need to make a grand statement of it.

"Where are you going mom?"
"To an Al-Anon meeting."
"Why?"
"Because it helps me. See you later!"

Al-Anon is about you...point final (end of statement).
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Old 01-24-2011, 01:15 PM
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Not to disagree with NoDay, because I believe her point to be very valid, but here is the flipside, in my opinion:

As an anonymous program, you do not have to tell anybody, no matter how close they are to you, that you are in Al-Anon.

Anonymity is there to protect us, however we want to use it, so that we can get better, as you said.

Your participating in the program is benefitting your daughter, even though she does not know it. You may choose to tell her at a later date, when she may be more receptive, or if and when you feel that letting her know could be of value to her.

I do not believe that you have anything to feel guilty about.
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Old 01-24-2011, 01:19 PM
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I never told anyone -- other than my boss -- that I went to Al-Anon meetings. My thinking was that life was stressful enough without feeling like I had to explain to anyone else what and why when I really didn't know up from down myself...
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Old 01-24-2011, 01:31 PM
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My mother knew I went to Al-Anon because she saw me the night I knew I needed to go, collapsed on the floor, crying because I just did not know what to do with ABF. At first she asked why I was going but once she saw how much reaching out to others in Al-Anon helped me, she began to see that it was my lifeline.

HAH! Then, there was ABF who to this day, feels I don't need Al-Anon. As I have told him in the past and will continue to tell him-it's MY program for me, not him and in looking at Step 1, I can't control his drinking nor can he control my participation in Al-Anon.

Other than my mom and ABF and a very close friend who is married to an alcoholic (but has yet to attend a meeting) no one else knows. The program has given me the tools to live my life with a lot more serenity and no one has to know where I get these tools.....
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Old 01-24-2011, 02:04 PM
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FWIW it took me 0.2 seconds on a google search to find out that al anon was out there. If your motivation is helping your daughter I would wait until she raises something with you about her thoughts on her H (IF I've got the relationships right!) you don't say whether she has or openly shares with you any concerns she has on her relationship.

you're not lying to her, she's your daughter not your parole officer, she isn't entitled to know your whereabouts and movements.
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Old 01-24-2011, 02:13 PM
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As I almost always do...

...I agree with Noday. Let me add, however, this: I decided when I finally committed to Al-Anon in 2003, that I was going to experiment with something I was really bad at doing-- telling the truth. Not a verbal spew, but exactly as Noday said it-- Where are you going? An Al-Anon meeting; I go two or three times a week. Why? Because it helps me be a happier and better person. But you aren't an alcoholic. I know, but Al-Anon is for the friends and families of alcoholics, AA is for alcoholics. Do you want to go with me to an Al-Anon meeting? No? OK, see you later. OR Yes, OK, let's go.

It was so nice not be be lying about my life anymore, or hiding it. Now, most of my friends and family, the vast majority of whom are not in recovery and do not do any kind of 12-Step program as far as I know, all know that I am a grateful member of Al-Anon. It is, and has been for years, a non-issue. It's just a part of me.

People's responses have been fascinating, and are all about them, not me.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Cyranoak

Originally Posted by nodaybut2day View Post
Your daughter's reaction isn't under your control.

You don't need to make a grand statement of it.

"Where are you going mom?"
"To an Al-Anon meeting."
"Why?"
"Because it helps me. See you later!"

Al-Anon is about you...point final (end of statement).
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Old 01-24-2011, 07:18 PM
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Thanks so much for all this wonderful insight.

On their last visit, (2 weeks ago) they fought for 2 days. When they weren't fighting, he was sulking. And she was putting on a brave face. But at one point she broke down on my bed & started crying - saying how hard it was to live with his negativity, etc. and saying she knew it wasn't him. And I was thinking, "yeah you're right, it's the addiction" but I knew it wasn't the time to say it. But that's when I started thinking "maybe I should tell her I'm going to AlAnon."

I so appreciate your support with this. I especially resonated with the anonymity point which felt very strong when I read it. I always think of that as protection of the privacy of others but you're right, it's there for me too. But also getting into AlAnon to tell our own truth is something I wanted to learn too. Not to ignore or make excuses for The Big Fat Elephant in the room, ya know?

I welcome all your insight and support. Much Love.
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Old 01-24-2011, 07:48 PM
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About anonimity...

I believe you are obligated to honor the anonimity of anybody you see and hear at a meeting, but in my opinion it does not mean you can't tell people you are in Al-Anon. That's your decision, and you can tell anybody you want you are in Al-Anon, or not.

Guilt has no place in this.

While I don't volunteer it, the reason I freely acknowledge I go to Al-Anon is that I don't feel like lying, or as you put it, failing to acknowledge the elephant in the room. I'm tired of lying, obfuscating, and deflecting. Honesty is so much easier, and I don't have to keep track of it (plus, it pisses off my alcoholic and I LOVE THAT).

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Cyranoak



Originally Posted by johnnymau View Post
Not to disagree with NoDay, because I believe her point to be very valid, but here is the flipside, in my opinion:

As an anonymous program, you do not have to tell anybody, no matter how close they are to you, that you are in Al-Anon.

Anonymity is there to protect us, however we want to use it, so that we can get better, as you said.

Your participating in the program is benefitting your daughter, even though she does not know it. You may choose to tell her at a later date, when she may be more receptive, or if and when you feel that letting her know could be of value to her.

I do not believe that you have anything to feel guilty about.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:31 PM
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I was speaking with someone from AA today, and he brought up the "anonymity" subject.

It's up to each person whether or not they want to say they're in Al-Anon or AA - so yes, don't go talking about who else is in the room, or what they said. Anonymity is also to be applied towards TV, radio, movies, and any other "public" forum.

But his AA group is of the opinion that if you remain anonymous to the people around you, you're not continuing forward with the intent of the program, which is to reach out to help others. He feels if you don't put it out there, people won't know to reach out to you when they don't know where else to go. Al-Anon is not as well known a program as AA, either.


That said, there's no need to advertise until you're ready, and no need to shout it to the rooftops or anything. It's different with AlAnon, versus AA, as the alcoholics are a bit more obvious. (His example? When he informed his neighbor he stropped drinking and was going to AA, the reply he got was "I know. You stopped parking your car in my flowerbeds and peeing off your roof, and today you're mowing your lawn for the first time since I've known you. I figured something was different.")

I figure it's up to each individual who they want to tell, and when. There's no need to advertise, especially if you're still at the beginning of the program, but at some point you won't be afraid of what others think, and will start telling a little bit at a time.

I just figure I'll know when I'm ready.
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Old 01-25-2011, 07:18 AM
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Starcat, your A's conversation with the neighbor!! OMG!
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