Disappointed

Old 12-04-2013, 02:24 PM
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Disappointed

I'd like to begin by apologizing for the length of this post, but I have no one to discuss this with.

I was here nearly a year ago because I was pretty much at the end of my rope - and my marriage. I got a lot of advice to attend Al-Anon meetings, which made me very nervous for several reasons. In the end, I did not go.

I did issue an ultimatum to my AH to quit drinking or get a divorce lawyer. He did not quit, but he moderated it to a degree where life was semi-bearable again, while I waited to see if he really could "take care of it himself."

The answer, of course, was "no." Over the last 3 or 4 months, it's slowly gotten very bad again, to the point that he was unbelievably intoxicated every day that he didn't work (he may drink before work and after work, but not while at work...yet, anyway. And which brings on a whole new set of resentments on my part). The five days we took off for the holiday were a nightmare; he was completely in the bag each day by noon. It was more than a little embarrassing on Thanksgiving, which we hosted - his family arrived at 1 pm and he was already slurring his words. By the time they left, around 6 pm, he could barely walk. This happened again on Friday and Saturday. Sunday night we had another huge fight where I, again, told him to get sober or be prepared to be single, and that he MUST seek outside help, since he so obviously could not quit on his own.

I also told him I was going to Al-Anon on Tuesday night, which I did.

To say that I was disappointed in the meeting is an understatement. The "newcomer meeting" was fine; the gentleman I spoke with was lovely, and very understanding about my concerns (I'm an atheist). He did a great deal to put me at my ease, but the meeting itself was NOT what I expected.

Don't get me wrong - everyone was welcoming and kind. Because it was the first meeting of the month, they began the meeting with reading the 12 Steps and the 12 Traditions (I don't know if this is common of all Al-Anon meetings, or just this particular one), which I was fine with. Then the discussion became about how to apply one of the Steps and one of the Traditions to our lives (Ten, in this case). Okay, I'm fine with that, too.

Afterwards, I was approached by two very nice people who encouraged me to return for the six recommended meetings so I could be sure the program was right for me. I assured them I would, even though my AH was not happy about my attendance. The one lady smiled at me and said,

"Yes, they think we sit around and complain about them, when we never talk about them at all. We focus on ourselves here - if you find a meeting where they actually talk about addiction, you're at a bad meeting."

A little taken aback, I asked, "What about practical advice on how to deal with it?"

To which she replied, "You just take one day at a a time."

If that's it, I don't know how much use it will be. While I certainly understand the need for such a diverse group of people to avoid discussing outside issues, such as politics (I wouldn't anyway - that's not what I'm there for), and understand the value of taking a "personal inventory" and admitting when I'm wrong, I was under the impression the others would speak about their situations and how they deal with them. Instead, I found out that no one expected me to talk about my situation at all, and that the topic would, in fact, be quite unwelcome.

Is this common? If it is, I seriously doubt if I'll return.
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Old 12-04-2013, 02:46 PM
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Hi -- and I hesitate to say "welcome back" because I'm really sorry you have reason to come back. But I'm glad you're here because here is a good place to be.

So you're disappointed in your first Al-Anon meeting.
Let me tell you, so was I.
I walked in expecting to be handed a tool kit that would explain to me how I would get my husband to stop drinking. Instead I sat around and listened to a bunch of people talk about themselves. About how they handled their emotions and reactions to someone's drinking. Or how they were trying to change their attitudes and thinking about something. I thought it was pretty darn useless.

But here's the thing -- and it took me a good while to understand this -- that I NEEDED those meetings. I didn't think I did. My husband was an alcoholic who refused to go to AA because he wasn't like those people and I was a wife of an alcoholic who didn't want to go to Al-Anon because I wasn't like those people

Truth is -- those people got me. They understood me like nobody else. I'm no longer married to an alcoholic but I still go to meetings just for that feeling, the feeling that nothing I say or do or feel can shock anyone there. I'm at home there. Safe there.

So the ladies are right. Al-Anon isn't for HIM. It's for YOU.
It's for you to figure out that you can't control him.
His choices.
His drinking.
To figure out that he's an adult who will do what he will do.
And your choices are to accept him as he is, drunken stupors and all, or to choose a different life for yourself.

Al-Anon made that a much lighter decision for me.
Because I came to understand that it wasn't about abandoning my husband -- it was about saving myself. It wasn't about leaving him -- it was about letting him be to lead his life as he saw fit so that I could do the same.

Al-Anon meetings are not question-and-answer sessions with people handing you ready-made solutions for how to fix drunks. They're a support group for you, and you may not feel you need it, but trust me, you do. I hate group ANYTHINGS -- whether it's team projects at work or exercise classes; I'm a loner, and independent, and most of the time I can't stand other people. But Al-Anon saved my life. And my sanity. Or what's left of it.

You're a fixer. We all are. We don't need any pats on the back, we just need the stinking TOOLBOX for crying out loud. Those Alanannies can sit there and cry while we go home and fix our drunks. At least that's how I felt in the beginning. Like "what's the use if they don't have the key to making him stop drinking?"

Give it time. Trust me. Don't expect. Just go, and let the meeting happen. I know. That, too, goes completely against everything you want. What a waste of time, right? You don't have time for BS like that. Except you do. And all of a sudden one day you'll walk out of one of those meetings and feel like you put down a fifty-pound bag of flour on the floor in there and walked away.

At least that's my experience.
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Old 12-04-2013, 02:54 PM
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I understand your frustration. I felt the same way when I first went to Alanon - it confused me because I wanted to get him help - I felt like I didnt have a problem and so I quit going. After a couple more years of crazytown, I decided to give Alanon another try, so I went back and kept going for the 6 meetings - I went to two different ones, which had a lot of the same people in them (which surprised me as well!). Anyway, long story short - I am glad that I kept going back because I learned that keeping my focus on me and not my AH started making a difference in how I reacted to things, which in turn made a difference in how my AH did things. My AH doesn't say if it bothers him or not (he hides his drinking so he is tolerable for me to deal with for right now), but I go for me and it doesn't matter what his opinion is on the subject of me going. (This is not how I used to think - I was all about him!) It does help, and some meetings will have a meeting (usually lunch or dinner) after/before the alanon meeting and you can speak more freely and openly. Also, you can get telephone numbers or email addresses to talk and reason things out with others that are going through the same pain that you are.
I hope you give it a try - all meetings that I have been to will open with the 12 steps and traditions - everyone takes a turn reading a step/tradition.
Also this site has helped me tremendously!!!
I had some serious co-dependent issues to deal with - and I really don't know how I would have my sanity if it wasn't for Alanon and this site!
Keep reading and posting. It really helps get things in prospective!
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Old 12-04-2013, 02:54 PM
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You misunderstand - I did not expect anyone to tell me how to fix my alcoholic. I can't; no one can make him stop drinking but him. I understand that after all these years and, I think, can accept that.

Instead I sat around and listened to a bunch of people talk about themselves. About how they handled their emotions and reactions to someone's drinking.
If I understood the woman correctly (yes, it's quite possible that I did not) that's NOT what they do at this meeting. They don't talk about how they handled their emotions or their reactions to someone else's drinking AT ALL. That, I would welcome.
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Old 12-04-2013, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by JansSushiBar View Post
If I understood the woman correctly (yes, it's quite possible that I did not) that's NOT what they do at this meeting. They don't talk about how they handled their emotions or their reactions to someone else's drinking AT ALL. That, I would welcome.
I'm new to al-anon, too, and do not have 6 meetings in yet. The meetings are all a little different. I'd suggest trying a different meeting. There are 5-6 different meetings in my city that work with my schedule. I don't plan to "choose" one until I've tried all of those at least once. This week has conspired against me and I haven't been to any. If we don't get the @#$* snow storm, I plan to try the one on Friday and Sunday.
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Old 12-04-2013, 03:10 PM
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Each meeting will have a different feel - try several different ones if possible. I think you will learn in time that you will love the acceptance you get and there will be someone different bringing the topic for the meetings each time. You never really know what will be the topic of the day...Speaker meetings are great to attend because you will hear the speaker tell their story of what they have been through and what lead them to Alanon and how they apply alanon to their lives and the difference that it makes once you start focusing on yourself - it really is amazing. I have learned that once I started changing - things got better, and I never would have known to do that had it not been for Alanon.
And if you decide that Alanon isnt for you - there is a world of wisdom in this forum!
I am sorry for what brought you here, but I'm glad that you are here now!
(((hugs)))
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Old 12-04-2013, 03:14 PM
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At first, AlAnon was very confusing to me. I wasn't comfortable in the meetings, and wasn't getting what I wanted. But for some reason, I just kept putting my butt in that seat twice a week every week. I surrendered. I listened, and didn't make judgements. It took a couple of months, and I started to look forward to meetings. I started to get it. And....I started to get better.

I went to 3 different meetings before I found the group that felt better to me. Don't make decisions based on 1 meeting. Try several. Be patient, and be consistent. The issues didn't appear overnight, and you won't recover overnight. It's a process.
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Old 12-04-2013, 03:50 PM
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I got to Celebrate Recovery for codependency which is very similar. The thing is, they are focusing on YOU because that is all YOU can change. If you could change him you would not have to go to Alanon! They are trying to make you see that you need to work on your codependency and boundaries and the realizations that you cannot change him.

Don't be alarmed. If you don't click with that group, try a different time with a different group. Just keep going. My group of people at Celebrate Recovery have changed my life. It is just for that very reason, they taught me I cannot control how he acts...only how I react...and that is changing for me.

Good Luck! Keep posting, you are not alone!
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Old 12-04-2013, 04:20 PM
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Jan, I likes you.

You are funny.

Originally Posted by JansSushiBar View Post
I'd like to begin by apologizing for the length of this post, but I have no one to discuss this with.

I was here nearly a year ago because I was pretty much at the end of my rope - and my marriage. I got a lot of advice to attend Al-Anon meetings, which made me very nervous for several reasons. In the end, I did not go.

I did issue an ultimatum to my AH to quit drinking or get a divorce lawyer.
Hard hitter. You may not need Alanon.


He did not quit
Huh, how about that?

Wait a second. Yes you probably do need Alanon, then.

Funny stuff.

Keep coming back.
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Old 12-04-2013, 04:50 PM
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I'm sorry I misunderstood -- so Al-Anon, do they give you help in how to deal with living with an alcoholic?

Yes.
Most definitely.
But not in the way you may expect.

I've spent a bit of time working with Alaska Natives and Native Americans.
Going to Al-Anon meetings reminds me of that.
I felt the same way when I first came to an Al-Anon meeting like I did the first time I was invited to visit and interview an Alaska Native Elder. I wanted to ask questions and get answers and be done and go home. I found the routines, habits, rituals, to be infuriatingly slow and irritating.

Until I didn't anymore.
The reading of the steps and traditions (which my meetings do at the beginning of every meeting) is a time for me to realize I've left the outside world behind and I am here to focus on me. Kind of like rituals in a church, or at a family dinner, or a holiday.

And then the stories. I was never at an Al-Anon meeting where someone said "When my drunk comes home drunks and pees on the couch, here's how I've learned to deal with that." The wisdom comes out in stories: "My husband came home drunk and peed on the couch last night. In the past, I've always helped him, walked him into the bathroom, washed him off, gotten his jammies on and put him to bed. Last night I didn't. I just left him there. It wasn't really that I thought about letting him suffer the consequences of his actions or anything. I was just tired of dealing with him so I decided to let him deal with himself."

So it can feel slow and frustrating. It did to me. For me, initially, it was a decision to go to a certain number of meetings whether I felt it did anything or not. I lost count and somewhere started getting something out of the meetings. Not in the efficient way I like to do everything. Which, I think, for me, was part of the point.
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Old 12-04-2013, 05:21 PM
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Hammer, I'm so glad I amuse you. I don't know yet if Al-Anon is exactly what I need, but I certainly need something. The fact that I attended a meeting of people whose recovery is dependent on something in which I don't believe is an indication of just how desperate I've become. Funny stuff, indeed.

The wisdom comes out in stories
That's rather what I was hoping for, but the woman I spoke with last night said they don't talk about their alcoholics or addiction at all; if the meeting I attended was any indication, this is true. I don't understand how not talking about it helps you learn how to cope with it, hence my frustration and disappointment.

I have every intention of returning; I'll attend the same meeting next week - it may very well be different. If not, I'll attend different meetings the weeks of Christmas and New Years, since the eve of each falls on a Tuesday.
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Old 12-04-2013, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by JansSushiBar View Post
I don't know yet if Al-Anon is exactly what I need, but I certainly need something. The fact that I attended a meeting of people whose recovery is dependent on something in which I don't believe is an indication of just how desperate I've become.
I can relate. I think many of us can. And you may be surprised by the ways in which different people define the "higher power", which I believe is what you're referring to when you say "something in which you don't believe." Maybe this recent thread will help you w/that: http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...religious.html

I would echo those who say to get your body to the meetings and see if at some point things don't click in your head and heart. I'd also say go to Amazon or your local library and pick up some Alanon literature. That might help you see things more clearly, too. It helped me start to "get it."

I always want to see the master plan, to see how it's all going to work, to know all the logical details of things too. Absolutely. But I'm learning that sometimes if I let go of that and trust something outside of myself, good things can happen.

I hope you can have that experience also. At most, you'll be spending an hour a week on Alanon; I know I surely spent more than that fretting and stewing before I started to see how to live better and more calmly, and I bet you have too!
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Old 12-04-2013, 07:07 PM
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I understand and agree with your Al Alon summary. I found a family support group and love it. Everyone is free to share, give advice, help, talk out of turn. We laugh, cry, eat dinner, whatever. For me, I liked a more informal setting. Once I found the family group I never returned to Al Anon.
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Old 12-04-2013, 08:03 PM
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hi

i went to an alanon meeting and didn't return for a year and a half, until i was desperately seeking sanity in an insane situation.

alanon is kind of an indirect rather than direct approach in my opinion. it takes a while for you to see the big picture. there are all of these seemingly random or at least separate facets. all of which are about you not the A. there is a caretaking/fixit mindset that many of us have had and it was that mindset that got us into our situations. to regain sanity we have to begin to work on ourselves. that is not a quick fix. we/i had to be ready to see certain aspects of my own behavior in order to help myself. one thing it took me a LONG to realize was how i liked to control things. i never considered myself controlling or saw that as negative, but it was a critical issue that i needed to address for me to be able to see other aspects of myself and the relationship with my exA.
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Old 12-04-2013, 10:53 PM
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I went to Alanon for a little over a year...but it is not what led me in my recovery - therapy is what led my recovery. Alanon for me was just a supplement to therapy. Without therapy I would not be where I am today. I went to therapy to learn how to feel again and accept those feelings - and then I started let them go (it's a process I'm still working on it). I looked deep at everything I had been repressing and how it had led me to make the choices I'd made...that's just the tip of it. In therapy I did the hard work to get to where I am today. Hard to explain but it was the aha for me.

Alanon definitely had value it was jut not the end all be all for me (I definitely do not consider myself an Alannanie) - it was a way to get out of the house when I still lived with my XAH. It was also a way for me to see what I didn't want...and for me what I didn't want was shifting my set of "rules" that had kept me stuck in my marriage for so long (you know "life rules" - you should do this and that) to another set of Alanon "rules". In addition I got triggered by many of the women at the meetings because my mother is a severe controlling NPD....so I needed mixed meetings.

Ironically the best meetings I found were double winner meetings (they accepted me readily even though I wasn't an A only an Alanon)...those for me just were less triggery and I didn't feel all bound by the rules and such. It was in a double winner meeting I learned step 1 and step 1 was what got me started on my journey...so I did use the steps, but I got them in a place I was more comfortable which was a double winner meeting.

Alanon is alanon - it's not *the* one and only recovery solution - it works for some and not for others...for others like me there are options...I just had to go looking for them. And Alanon was a great supplement to my therapy...so I say there is something in it for everyone but what that is is different and for some it is not the end all solution.

BTW - I'm going to a double winner meeting this week so I guess I still sort of go to Alanon. But don't let people make you think it's the only thing or the only way - the whole idea is for you to find your path -maybe that will be Alanon maybe not.
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Old 12-05-2013, 05:27 AM
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Although I don't really know anything about the programs, I believe that S.M.A.R.T. and LifeRing, and S.O.S. have Friends and Family programs. They are likely to be fewer in number, but perhaps they have on-line meetings. If I'm not mistaken, all of these programs have no spiritual component.
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Old 12-05-2013, 07:45 AM
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I go to Celebrate Recovery. While it does incorporate the bible, there are many people that come there that do not have faith. That being said, I think it is the realization that we are not the higher power either! So many of us are controlling people, at least I am. I think you see that alot in codependency. You are forced to take care of everything and everyone and it is easy to become controlling. So it is a relief to realize WE CANNOT CONTROL THIS OTHER PERSON and we don't even have to try!

Now at my small group meetings, we are free to talk about the other person, but the key is to focus on YOURSELF. So I may say, well, my husband drank again and I am really hurting because I feel lied to and betrayed. I am getting to the roots of how I feel and shifting the focus to me and how I can cope. And it does help to just get it all out...in a safe environment where I know everyone there understands. Truly, those small group ladies have become some very very good friends and have gotten me through some terrible times.

So keep trying. Not all groups are the same. Ask around. Don't stop focusing on YOU!

Good Luck and many Blessings to you!
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