I can live for two months on a good compliment.
-- Mark Twain
At a meeting I shared about a loss I've gone through, and the response was amazing. People expressed sympathy and understanding, and a number of them shared experiences of their own that were similar to mine. It surprised me. I'd told the same story at a different meeting, and people there didn't say a thing to me. I had left feeling like there was something wrong with me. I can't figure out what I did differently this time, maybe there was something about the way I shared.
My hunch is that the difference in response to your sharing from different groups of people had to do with things over which you had no control. There are many possible explanations for people's responses to us; we needn't assume we're responsible for what they do or don't do.
There's an Al-Anon slogan (nicknamed "The Three C's") that says, "I didn't cause it, I can't control it, and I can't cure it." For me, it's a helpful one to remember, especially when people in my life are active in an addiction or are on a "dry drunk." It's useful in situations with non-addicts, too. Most human beings behave as they do for reasons that have little to do with us.
We're entitled to support and response from other human beings. When I find myself in a group where I experience a warm, engaged response from others, I make a point of returning. Support and validation from others quenches one of my deepest thirsts. But we can't rely on others to give us a sense of self-esteem. That comes from within, it grows as we do the work of recovery.
Today, I go where I find food for my spirit.
I Don't Want To Hide From Life Anymore
Isolation is a term often associated with prisoners or individuals with infectious diseases. However, when connected with the disease of alcoholism, it took on an entirely new meaning for me. I had recently retired from a position that, over many years, gave me lots of friends and a second family. I was always outgoing and enjoyed contact with others. Despite the rewarding assets of the job, though, I was ready to retire and not be restricted by a set schedule. I never could have imagined the upheaval that would occur in our lives shortly after I retired. My husband and I discovered that our daughter was an alcoholic and well on the path to life-threatening consequences by then.
Once she entered rehab for the first time, I stopped communication with almost everyone except for the people there. I was embarrassed to say anything to my family or friends, and I knew our daughter did not want them to find out about her problems, either. My husband and I quit going anywhere except to rehab to see her. In time, she seemed to be getting better, but I was still afraid to leave home just in case there might be a phone call from her or from someone else telling us she had been in an accident or something worse. All this time, I was truly losing my sanity and driving my husband crazy. I was trying to control everything that our daughter did. I told myself that I could get her to stop drinking if she would just listen to me, her father and her husband.
When she went into rehab for the second time, I felt sure it was my fault. I thought if I had pushed harder, she would not have needed to return. However, it proved to be the first step on the road to recovery for me, and I have my daughter to thank for that. She suggested that Al-Anon might be a good program for me, and she suggested that a book titled How Al-Anon Works for Family & Friends of Alcoholics (B-22) might explain more about it. I bought a copy and became engrossed in all that it had to say about Al-Anon and the disease of alcoholism. I started going to an Al-Anon Family Group and found loving people who understood what I was going through. They listened to me without judgment when I shared my fears and tears, and I listened and learned from their experiences, as well.
I learned in Al-Anon that I am here for my own recovery and a new understanding of myself. Our daughter is doing well these days with the help of A.A., and our relationship is better than ever. I have learned not to isolate anymore, and I let myself enjoy my life, family and friends.
By Anonymous November,2018
Reprinted with permission of The Forum
Al-Anon Family Groups Incorporated, Virginia Beach, VA
Today's Hope is a Recovery themed site with a focus on Friends and Families of Alcoholics and problem drinkers. We are not affiliated with any 12 Step program. The daily sharings contain a reading from
Al-Anon's Conference Approved publication The Forum, an inspirational quote/saying and a recovery based reading/meditation. The intent of Today's Hope is to share experience, strength and hope. Please take what you like and leave the rest.