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Torn about Alanon

Old 02-03-2011, 09:46 AM
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Torn about Alanon

I'm considering going to alanon but one thing is holding me back. It seems the only effective way to live with an alcoholic is to detach. Isn't going to alanon part of rehashing your issues with the alcoholic and therefore focusing more on them instead of you?

It seems like it would be easier just to live in denial/ignorance. Live for yourself and not focus on the alcoholic (kind of like lalalala I can't hear you). It seems to me that going to a meeting about how to deal with alcoholics is allowing yourself to be obsessed with their problems. Admittedly I am obsessed without alanon, but am trying my darndest not to be and to focus on me.

Does Alanon help you to live with the alcoholic or break away from them. I feel like I break away pretty well, I was dealing with a pending divorce fine, it's the living with one that is very hard for me.
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:15 AM
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try it and see?

I found my experience of al-anon quite mixed, although it has helped many on here tremendously. I went to al-anon to a) do something for myself and b) show my AH how serious this was for me. I also had hidden motives of wanting to find validation and support to leave him. I was at a point where I thought the only 2 options I had were to put up with him as he was or kick him to the kerb. when I got to Alanon I found a wonderful group of non-judgemental people, and a lot of support, but what I heard from them was there was a third way (note this is what I heard from there sharing not necessarily what they meant) that I could detach and learn to be happy living with him, and that my change in attitude would possibly (clutch at those straws!) bring about a change in him: aha I thought - a third way, entirely dependent on me shifting my attitude, and I tried that third way for years (I didn't stay in alanon for very long though, perhaps that was my mistake?).

My experience of al-anon, limited though it was, was that there was no focussing on the alcoholic at all, in fact people rarely mentioned partners or alcohol unless there was a newcomer, it was about trying to be a better person myself.

To be honest at the point I was at then, I really couldn't work with being told I had any more "defects of character" that needed attention, I was getting plenty of that at home (except they didn't tell me that, they were all working through their own problems, but because I was so anxious and frightened of people I applied all their personal insights about themselves to me). It was the wrong time for me, and counselling worked better for me. But the groups are all different and you won't know unless you try (they don't brain-wash you and hold you prisoner!) what have you got to lose?
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Old 02-03-2011, 11:20 AM
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My experience with alanon is mixed too, for the very reasons that you find hesitated to attend.
But, if you go with the plan that you do not simply vent, that you don't focus on the alcoholic, that you focus on yourself and healing, then you will get out of it what you put into it, more than likely.
Interestingly enough, it's not what I say that changes me by going when I do. (and do try several groups because the makeup of people is different and very much affects the whole atmosphere). It's not what I say--it's listening to what others say that helps me, very similar to reading on here.
Besides, you just might make a friend or two that understands.
And...we don't always realize just how traumatized we are. We think we are so strong and don't need the support of others. I have made this error. No man is an island.
Pushing ahead in life with the la la la might just be a form of denial. Maybe you can pull it off--but then, you wouldn't be on here either. So listening to others is helping you, isn't it?
Attending with zero victim mentality--what I think you seek--is difficult, but you can attend with this as your approach and find out what it does for you. Nothing to lose if you still feel it isn't working, and you can always chuck it and attend a writing workshop instead, or whatever your passions are. Maybe do both. One new night out that has nothing to do with alcoholism relationships, and one that does.
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Old 02-03-2011, 11:29 AM
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I think it is important to find a meeting you like. I go once a week to a meeting that is about 20 minutes from home. It is well worth the short commute because it has a mix of people that works. Many relatively young (30's) like me and some older who have lived with and handled their situations in different ways.

The important thing is to focus on yourself. A good meeting will sort of make that happen. It reminds me of this forum - you are not really allowed to be a victim. If there is a problem in your life, you need to figure out the best way to handle that problem. I know I am simplifying, but sometimes we get in our own way and overthink things (at least I do). Many codependents worry too much about our effect on our drinker. Alanon, for me, helps me to not be so overly considerate! It helps me to stop being super nice, and start acting in my own (and my kids) best interests.

Sometimes people's stories do not resonate at all. But often at least one person each week will hit a nerve and I will take away a nugget of value. Whatever you choose, I hope you find a way to have days filled with peace.
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Old 02-03-2011, 12:05 PM
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It didn't work for me, but I would certainly urge you to give it a try. It might be just what you need. you don't know until you go.
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Old 02-03-2011, 01:42 PM
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Try several meetings until you find one that works (or decide it won't work for you).

In my experience, the main times it was about the alcoholic was when there was a newcomer, or occasionally one of the older members had a difficult day and just needed to vent and someone to validate they weren't crazy.

Aside from that, the only meetings I had that mentioned the alcoholic much at all were the ones on the first step, because it's hard to talk about admitting you were powerless over alcohol if you don't mention an alcoholic somewhere. That said, it was mostly about feelings and reactions the individual had to the alcoholic's actions, or what was their "breaking point" in the first place.


In short, percentage-wise there's more talk about the alcoholics in this forum than there are at my AlAnon meetings. And this forum doesn't obsess about them, either.
If you find a good group, it helps A LOT.
But AlAnon isn't for everyone - try it out, and decide what's best for YOU.
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Old 02-03-2011, 01:42 PM
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It is definitely worth a try if you have the time. Talking to others and just listening to what other people have to deal with, might make you feel better.

You may also find some useful tools and ideas to get through the day, and if you find at some point that the meetings lose the value -- you can stop going!

I went for 4-5 months after I realized I was married to a full-blown alcoholic and that my life had become unmanageable. I pretty much hung around on Step 1 most of the time, which made for some quality self-evaluation. Am I really powerless over alcohol? Can I control this, or can I not? Does it feel better to turn my will and my life over to a higher power?

Al-anon is for working on yourself and how YOU feel about the situation, how YOU are dealing with it mentally and emotionally.

So it is worthwhile, at least in my experience.

Blessings!


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Old 02-03-2011, 02:47 PM
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I found Al-Anon to be a great start on my journey but it is one of many tools I use to work on myself. Sometimes I go to meetings and leave even more depressed than when I started...sometimes I get really, really mad at God while I am there. Sometimes someone says exactly what I need to hear that day and I walk away feeling elated.

I have tapered off lately because I found myself dwelling too much on my situation while attending Al-Anon. I do work the steps a little on my own, when I need a reminder.
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Old 02-03-2011, 03:21 PM
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I don't relate to many in my home group, but they understand me and guide me. I take what I need and leave the rest.
I prefer the old timers groups because I feel they have more wisdom and less angst.
I was doing step group with some women in their 20's and 30's and they had little hope, but the women over 50 had a lot more hope. I like being around hope, not despair!
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Old 02-04-2011, 12:53 PM
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Run, don't walk to Al-Anon

Originally Posted by Chelle3 View Post
I'm considering going to alanon but one thing is holding me back. It seems the only effective way to live with an alcoholic is to detach. Isn't going to alanon part of rehashing your issues with the alcoholic and therefore focusing more on them instead of you?

It seems like it would be easier just to live in denial/ignorance. Live for yourself and not focus on the alcoholic (kind of like lalalala I can't hear you). It seems to me that going to a meeting about how to deal with alcoholics is allowing yourself to be obsessed with their problems. Admittedly I am obsessed without alanon, but am trying my darndest not to be and to focus on me.

Does Alanon help you to live with the alcoholic or break away from them. I feel like I break away pretty well, I was dealing with a pending divorce fine, it's the living with one that is very hard for me.



You are correct that in Al-Anon, members learn to detach from the alcoholic. However, the full principle is "detach with love." That doesn't mean to "disassociate" or "detach with an axe." "Detach with love" means that I understand that alcoholism is an illness that physically, emotionally and spiritually affects the drinker's behavior and all who are close to the drinker. It took me awhile to full understand just how much the drinking was affecting every aspect of the our lives. Al-Anon helped me to learn to separate the illness from the person. I can love the person but not behavior. It means that I can help the alcoholic be responsible and assume the consequences of his or her actions and behavior. When I stop enabling or covering up for the drinker, I help myself as well as the drinker. It takes a lot of crises to get the attention of the drinker--to shift it from the job, the spouse, the children, or whatever as the cause of his or her problems to "hmmm, I'm drinking too much. Maybe I wouldn't have gotten a DWI or hit a pedestrain walking in the stree if I hadn't drank a quart of whiskey and then driven the car."


Detach with Love also means not to deliberately create or avert a crises. "Bless the Mess" is what I used to tell myself. Just when I thought I had seen the bottom of the barrel, something else happened." Alcoholics don't scare easily. The drinker asked his drinking buddies if they thought he was an alcoholic--and guess what they said..."No." So, I became the problem with my nagging, angry confrontations, or superwife/cook/mother behavior.

Run, don't walk to Al-Anon. Call 888-425-2666 for meeting information or go to the Al-Anon Web site, Welcome to Al-Anon and Alateen It was way too late for my marriage by the time I got there. The alcoholic had to detach from me...instead of vice versa.
If you want to hear what an Al-Anon meeting is like, visit the First Steps to Recovery Podcasts on the Al-Anon web site, Welcome to Al-Anon and Alateen.
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Old 02-04-2011, 02:12 PM
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I went to an alanon meeting today and it was wonderful! Everyone was so warm, caring and welcoming. Most were older then me too, which I found to be a big positive like Summer Peach said. It was so nice just to be in a group of people who were walking the same path as you.

I feel stronger and more understanding. I also have step one firmly written on my forehead!
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:17 PM
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Just my experience since it is all I have. When I went to my first al anon meeting (only 7 months ago) I had no hope. That is what I found in those rooms. Not hope for the alcoholic (thats up to them)but hope for ME. That is the one person I had not focused on in years. It was eye-opening and thrilling to not have to hide secrets or problems for the first time ever living with an alcoholic. It was all about me not him.
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:22 PM
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WooHOO, Chelle! Good for YOU. You got me all smiley-n-stuff.
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:47 PM
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I went to Alanon with a lot of misgivings. Being an academic, I thought "What can Alanon possibly offer me that I don't already know from both my professional *and* personal life experiences?" I am learning to be a better human being in general. I find, for me, that it isn't about the addict/alcoholic, but about how I live my life. Granted, my RAH is in recovery so I don't live with an active A anymore. I can not & will not live in active alcoholism/addiction any more. However, it helps me in all aspects of interpersonal relationships. Alanon has taught me to be less judgemental. Like anything, Alanon is what you make it. If it works for you, awesome. If not, there are other paths to recovery as well.
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:38 PM
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I went to a couple of meetings several months before I started going regularly and looking for a group that fit me. I wasn't sure at first that it was for me either. I am so grateful that I went back. I've always been involved in church but al-anon has given me a deeper understanding of my higher power and my fellow human beings. I didn't realize I was so judgmental and that I often took things personally that were not meant that way. I've learned so much about myself because of al-anon. I live with an active alcoholic and these meetings and my sponsor have helped me stay sane for the last 4 years. Our group also has a few double winners (AA and al-anon) in it, and they definitely impart so much wisdom to the group. Please keep going back and work the program before giving up on it. Recovery is not a quick fix but life-long learning.
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:43 PM
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It's my opinion that everything in life is whatever you make it. If you want Al-Anon to be about complaining about an alcoholic, well, feel free.
Does Alanon help you to live with the alcoholic or break away from them.
Yes.

For me, AlAnon is about receiving support and acceptance. About coming to understand who I am and what role I play. About detaching and learning and growing. For me, AlAnon has never been about anyone but me.
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:07 PM
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So glad you went..it's so much more than can really be put into words..
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Old 02-05-2011, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Learn2Live View Post

For me, AlAnon is about receiving support and acceptance. About coming to understand who I am and what role I play. About detaching and learning and growing. For me, AlAnon has never been about anyone but me.
thats how i feel also, for once i have something for ME...
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:20 AM
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A couple of things...

"Isn't going to alanon part of rehashing your issues with the alcoholic and therefore focusing more on them instead of you?"

This is completely backwards. You couldn't be more wrong. The focus is on you, independent of the alcoholic.

"It seems to me that going to a meeting about how to deal with alcoholics is allowing yourself to be obsessed with their problems."

This also could not be more wrong. Going to meetings is about you, to help you, and will work for you-- if you let it.

"Does Alanon help you to live with the alcoholic or break away from them."

Alanon does neither. It helps you, with experience, strength, and hope, to make that decision yourself.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

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