first al-anon meeting...what to expect?

Old 10-13-2011, 07:46 AM
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first al-anon meeting...what to expect?

Morning, folks...

so, just for background I'm coming off of a BAD weekend with the A-monster -- we threw a party for newlywed friends of ours that turned into quite possibly the most epic college party ever... except we're 30 and live in a quiet neighborhood, and I went to bed 7 hours before the party broke up, which ultimately invovled throwing beer bottles into a fire pit, sawing up wood from a project I had been working on just to keep the fire going, and a bumpy trip down a flight of stairs...

Needless to say I expressed my sadness, fear, disgust as nicely as possible... and without me even suggesting, the AW has abstained from drinking since Monday (which, scarily, is the longest I've seen her go in several years).

However, she has gone from pleasant (Monday) to quiet/withdrawn (Tuesday) to angry/hypersensitive (Wednesday)… all without really speaking to me much. Its like she's silently resenting me for making her feel badly about drinking when all I did was tell her how her behavior upset and hurt me that night… probably trying to passive agressivly prove to ME that she can go a few days without it (as if it weren't SO obvious how much of a struggle it is).

Anyway, it's painfully obvious that if she's fighting me this hard when I didn't even actively put pressure/threaten/issue an ultimatum… HP only knows what it would be like if I actually did. It's clear that nothing I could do or try would actually help her… and the little doubts in the back of my mind that wonder "am I making too big a deal out of everything?" "she's in her 20's, this is what lots of people do" "is it really a problem" "she'll grow out of it like she says she will"… they're getting smaller and smaller as I feel her body desperately defend its right to drink.

So, I "made plans with a friend" for the evening, and am going to try my first al-anon meeting… but I have to admit, I'm a little nervous and not at all sure what to expect from it. Anyone willing to share their experiences about that first meeting?

Also, I'm inherently uncomfortable lying to my spouse about my whereabouts… anyone have any experiences with whether or not it's better to be upfront about seeking help when your AW/AH/ABF/AGF is in complete denial about the extent of their problem?? Anyone else have trouble with guilt about lying to attend meetings?
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:56 AM
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I'm going to my first meeting next Thursday. Sometimes I think we need to say enough is enough and look for some help for us.

I haven't told my AM that I'm going, it's not really her business, she has kept enough secrets from me!! If you feel comfortable telling her do, but if not dont. I know if I told my Mum she'd be furious. For me it isn't worth the row.

Good luck, let me know how you get on!!
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Old 10-13-2011, 08:39 AM
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Others will jump in here and share their own experiences with that first meeting, and I know a lot of ours will sound similar. I went to a meeting angry. Like you, I had a spouse who would not admit this was becoming a major problem, and I was on my way out the door when my Mom suggested Al-Anon. I was so angry that day! I marched in and sat down and asked this group when it was my turn to speak said something to the effect of "what the heck am I suppossed to do to get this guy to quit drinking so damn much?" I got a lot of smiles and sympathetic looks, and afterwards a group of ladies sat me down and told me the purpose of Al-Anon. I didn't go back for another month. I thought I was going to get good suggestions on how to fix him! ; )

I read all the literature plus more books, and went back that second month with a different attitude. I tried a variety of meetings and met a lot of really cool people who just seemed calm and peaceful...and I realized I wasn't and wanted what they have, living in the midst of some major stuff, to be so calm and peaceful. So I kept going back. Some days were better than others. But I can honestly say I learn something at every meeting.

When my stbx-RAH found out he BLEW sky high. I didn't tell him at first and didn't feel the need to, as this was my business and as an autonomous person even being married, I have a right to make my own choices. Anyway - it was ugly, but because of what I was learning it didn't last long. But he was very threatened by it, and heck, probably still is.

You do this for you, because your life has become unmanageable living with an active alcoholic, not because you think it will prove anything to her or force her to look at her own stuff. Do ti for you, and you will get good things out of it. And try meetings until you find a good fit. You'll know it when you find it.

Congrats on an important first step of taking back your life.
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Old 10-13-2011, 09:15 AM
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I have to agree with Tuffgirl, you go to al-anon to start your own recovery. As for your A, you didn't cause it, you can't control it and you can't cure it. So you might as well work on yourself.

I had been reading and posting here for a couple of months before I decided to go so I had an idea of what to expect. I went to 5 or 6 meetings until I found the 2 that I now attend. I too wanted the peace and serenity that I saw there in some of the people there.

What you will find is a bunch of people who know what you are going through and who understand in a way that no one else will.

I can't say that I have achieved serenity but I am centered and happy and enjoying life again.

Your friend,
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:19 AM
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I would gently suggest not lying to cover your whereabouts.
I'm not suggesting how to handle it other than to refrain from actually lying.

Lying compromises yourself.
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:30 AM
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I went to my first meeting this week...

And my second. Today will be my third. But my husband is out of town so he doesn't know yet. I think in your situation since she is already trying to not drink (at least temporarily) you might as well be honest with her, at least after you return from the meeting. Just let her know that you are attending for your own sanity, and that you have no plans to try to change or control her behavior.

The meetings so far have been great. The first was very small and a book study. The second was larger and a regular meeting where people shared. When I went to the first one I was terrified, I had just realized my husband was relapsing (after years in recovery) and I was devastated. I definitely heard what I needed to hear that day. I am so excited about healing myself now and moving forward (hopefully with my husband) and becoming emotionally healthy. I hope you wind up on the same path!
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:35 AM
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I think it was GettingBy who expressed how many of us felt going into our first Al-Anon meeting "Just give me the tools I need so I can go fix him/her!".

Just does not work that way....for me, I had to learn why I let someone treat me poorly, why I did not set appropriate boundaries for my own comfort and safety. I learned and life is much more peaceful now. (My current "qualifier" is my A stepson.)

I hope that you will consider attending different meetings, too, if this first group is not to your liking.

Good luck! Hugs, HG
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:56 AM
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Thank you all, I really appreciate your insights and experiences. I'm not sure I can ge around the lying part, particularly for this first meeting.... But since I really dont like lying to her, id probably talk about it before the next one.....
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:05 AM
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I am a grown up and I have the right to go wherever I please without getting permission or notifying anyone of my whereabouts.

Sometimes I just have to be somewhere by a certain time and I can say when I'll be back. I don't owe anybody any further explanation.
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:12 AM
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I hid going to Al Anon for several months. Finally I realized that doing that was all part of the alcoholic disease, the walking on eggshells, the manipulation, the lying, the mind games. Now I just say the truth, "I going to an Al Anon meeting tonight." It feels so much cleaner that way.
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:34 AM
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The first meeting is the hardest. My first meeting was a women only step meeting, which I did not like. I only went to that one since it was for newcomers..

Stick with it!
Remember you can't get her stop drinking and she has to want to stop. Focus on yourself and remember who comes first.
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:37 AM
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You can expect a warm welcome from people who will know exactly what you are going through, and won't be judgemental in any way-and you will enjoy it!
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Old 10-13-2011, 02:18 PM
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I went to my first Al-Anon meeting last night. I found a Beginners group which they recommend you attend for the first six meetings. Several of us were first timers and I found myself in good company. What I realized right away is that I was not the only one going through this experience, which is comforting in a way. You might feel sorry for your own A, but for the ones who have family and friends attending Al-Anon, it is obvious that they are loved. After all, why else would the rest of us be sitting in these meetings if not to cope with and better understand the alcoholics in our lives?
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:06 PM
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I don't really have anything to add. I did like the meetings right away and I've liked all the different ones I've attended. Some a bit more than others but I have liked them all. I didn't ever lie to AH about attending but I did attend ones that were held during lunchtime so that he didn't really have to know. I'd just go during lunch at work. He knows I'm going now.

I do like to stress to anyone that asks about Al-anon that it is a group for people who have been affected by someone else's drinking (or drug use - we don't have Narc-anon here). I think it's very common for people to be offended because they feel like we are labeling them. My husband may or may not be an addict but I certainly have been affected by his use.
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Old 10-14-2011, 03:36 PM
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I'm with programmatic on this one...

...unless there's physical danger to you or others, I'd encourage you to start telling the truth now so you get used to it. One of the "gifts" alcohol gives those of us who love alcoholics is lying to them, or lying to cover for them.

As for what to expect. Don't expect anything. Just go, keep an open mind, and really, really focus on what people are sharing. Only share yourself if you want to, but please listen to a couple of other folks before you do. Alanon saved my life.

My two cents.


Originally Posted by partysover View Post
Thank you all, I really appreciate your insights and experiences. I'm not sure I can ge around the lying part, particularly for this first meeting.... But since I really dont like lying to her, id probably talk about it before the next one.....
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Old 10-16-2011, 07:17 PM
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So how have your meetings been going?
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Old 10-16-2011, 08:42 PM
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I didn't lie about what I was doing. I have always been open about my plans and my whereabouts. I've never kept my life a secret.

When it was coming up, I said, "A, I have plans Friday night to attend a meeting at 7:00". He said, "What kind of meeting is it?" I said, "Al-anon, and it's right up the street. You're welcome to come if you'd like." He said whatever he had to say about it. I don't think it was positive, but I can't really remember. And that was the end of that conversation.
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Old 10-20-2011, 10:29 AM
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Thanks again to everyone for their insight. I did attend a meeting last week. It was a "step" meeting, and they were somewhere around 5... but everyone was welcoming and patient and I even found I had some relevant contributions to the discussion. I will be attending a different one tomorrow.

I did tell my AW that I was doing reading on al-anon, codependency, and would be attending meetings. I let her know that it was something I needed to do to take care of myself, that her drinking was her own business and I knew nothing I did or said was going to change that, but that I would be working on how I let it affect me. She just listened, dropped a few typical comments about how my disapproving looks or passive agressive attempts to avoid situations where drinking would be encouraged somehow MAKE her want to drink more, which I expected and ignored. I'm working a little more every day on not caring or worrying or thinking about how much she's drinking. Mostly pretending I dont care at this point, but hopefully my mind will follow my body in that course of action eventually. Trying to just do my own thing and tune her out when it gets uncomfortable, not interacting when she gets nasty... i can tell its going to be HARD work, and I'm not sure how long I can just hang around detached before I need to get out of the marriage, but I do know that it's all up to me, and i'm less anxious knowing that the decision, however hard, is in MY control -- and I'm not sitting around hoping and wishing and counting the days and setting fake deadlines for HER to decide she wants to quit drinking. Because if and when that ever happens... is totally out of my control, and that waiting would just make me crazier.

Looking forward to exploring the 12-steps, and taking control of my life and becoming less tormented by the crazy train that runs around my home....

Thanks to everyone for listening...
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Old 10-20-2011, 11:29 AM
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For me my RAH wanted me to go...he still has his moments where I get home and hear "well I couldn't go do...because you were at a meeting"
I just remind him it's MY night. Whether I go to a meeting, go hang w/ friends or whatever it's MINE.

I am very honest about where I'm going though. I'm a big believer in that if you lie and get caught it makes them doubt all the truths you tell too. Not to mention...Alcoholics are a very paranoid bunch and on top of everything else I don't want my A to think i've got a bf somewhere or something equally as sleazy..even though he knows me better than that. Alchohol makes there thinking distorted...even in recovery sometimes.

On that note...I won't accept lies from him either. I ask questions if I'm not sure if he's being honest...usually the truth comes out. Sometimes I just don't want to know.
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Old 10-20-2011, 12:19 PM
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I tell the truth because not doing so compromises my integrity whether anyone ever finds out or not.

What other people think about me is really none of my business. What I think of me is crucial, however.
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