Al-Anon Lifer

Anonymous sharings from a long-time member of Al-Anon, which is a safe place to recover from the effects of alcoholism in a friend or relative...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Home Messy Home

I'm usually the type who gets everything in order around me, especially in my home, but circumstances have prevented that this last week. Too much has been going on and things have just piled up... like the Halloween decorations...

When we got home from our trip, most of the neighbors had their Christmas decorations up. Granted, half of them get it done professionally, so they don't count. Our house stood out like the black sheep of the neighborhood with the big scarecrows and ghosts and rotting pumpkins on the front porch. But it was still cold and just not important to bring it all in. My ideal was to pack it downstairs and bring up the Christmas decorations at the same time. However, our daughter was and still is moving out of the basement, so that process just wasn't practical.

I found it almost humorous that it got to my husband first, the shame of having spooks in our yard when the neighbors had their PEACE, HOPE, JOY, and LOVE signs up. No kidding, we have neighbors who have these huge signs they put on their decks every year as if they signed an agreement with each other, even when the owners of the houses change. It is lovely. We can see them from our upstairs window and anyone driving the busy street adjoining our neighborhood can enjoy them...

Anyway, Hubby went outside in the cold and collected the obvious, hanging Halloween decorations. I waited until it got warm again to go out and collect the rest. But I didn't pack them away. Instead, they are piled up in the house. Now we have that pile along with a few turkeys, pumpkins, and fall leaves lurking in the dining room, family room, and kitchen, as well as a bare Christmas tree that Hubby managed to get up between football games on Sunday. I went shopping with our daughter for her new place and got new stockings for the mantel, for Hubby and me. I've decided not to put the kids' stockings up since they're grown and gone.

Needless to say, our house is full of mixed messages with a few Christmas decorations up, a pointsetta that Hubby bought me, and piles of Halloween decorations with other reminders of the fall and Thanksgiving season all over the house. But the outside, at least, looks like Christmas with white, pristine snow still gleaming in the sun and moonlight in our front yard. It reminds me of all the times I made sure that everything looked great on the outside to the rest of the world when inside our house was rotten and messy. Oh, not to anyone who per chance would get inside, because I made sure that looked good, too.

I'm talking about the disease of alcoholism and its effects... you know, the secrets, the screaming, the door slamming, the deafening silence, the crying, the scared children, the absent father... As I look around my house right now, I'm thinking how this represents what it used to be like - the facade on the outside with the mess on the inside. But it isn't what it is really like spiritually. My home may look chaotic right now, but it doesn't feel chaotic. It is not out of control, it is just temporary circumstances keeping me from cleaning it up. That's all.

And the big difference is that I wouldn't be embarrassed if anyone came calling today. I wouldn't apologize for the mess. I'd let them in, offer them a cup of tea, and rummage through the pantry for some store-bought cookies. It would be just fine and they would feel at home. I'm learning to feel at home in whatever my circumstances are, just like I learned to be content whether the alcoholic was drinking or not. I can be at peace inside when all around me is the opposite. It is okay and it is just for today.

Thank you, Higher Power, for my home, my Hubby, my program, my children, my dog, my sponsor, my service sponsor, my grandma, my mother-in-law, my sponsees, my Al-Anon and AA friends, my meetings, my fireplace, the warm winter sun, my TiVO, my chiropractor, my massage therapist, and so much more. I am truly a grateful member of the worldwide fellowship of Al-Anon. I'd rather have a messy home with a serene spirit than a perfectly organized home covering up chaos any time of the year. And that's the truth :-)


At Wednesday, December 06, 2006 12:19:00 PM, Blogger kel said...

What a terrific and accurate analogy!! Not too mention charming and fun! Thanks for sharing.


At Wednesday, December 06, 2006 5:24:00 PM, Anonymous Sober Chick said...

Oh I want what you have!

First of all that story of the Halloween decor being up and how you describe your neighbors is so halrious. I love how you relate it to the disease. I hope to get the perception you have adopted about the circumstances and all. I have OCD and get very involved at times with fixing all inanimate objects around me. I am getting better, and am learning from others that keep a clean house and a pure serenity.

At Wednesday, December 06, 2006 7:25:00 PM, Blogger Mary Christine said...

Thanks so much. What a fabulous post!

I was so proud of the little decorated trees in front of my house, I sent a picture to my sister. So, my sister in New York City had to tell me to ditch the pumpkin that was still on the front porch! I thought it still looked good there.

At Wednesday, December 13, 2006 11:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what an awesome post and I can soooo relate my friend:)
Thanks for sharing.

At Thursday, December 14, 2006 10:41:00 AM, Anonymous tiffanie said...

I came here from Sober Chick's site. Glad I came over. Your story about your father really helped me. I have alot in common with you. Though I am 34, and I am not married, I am divorced.

I did read about what you've written about him and letting go, forgiving. I'll be back I'm sure.

At Saturday, December 16, 2006 9:12:00 PM, Blogger ~MsManna~ said...

you know I can really relate. That is exactly how my home was. I could keep us looking good outside while inside was total chaos! Even now at times, I feel like I am carrying the same appearance and it came time for me to allow someone over who needed my help. I thought it was a horrible mess in here since I hadn't done anything all week. I'd been down, not lazy, just in pain and couldn't do anything! I allowed them to come but still only after sprucing up the place! Not top to bottom, but more so than before. No, before I wouldn't do anything and would not allow anyone over!

At Tuesday, December 19, 2006 6:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I found this blog and wanted to get some feedback about my Christmas dilemma. I have a friend who is extremely codepednent, and I believe she is addicted to another person. She has been a friend for many long years, but for the past couple of years, I can't get her to do anything with me because she always wants to be home in case her neighbor, the man she is addicted to, comes over.

I feel I have lost her as a friend, but she still keeps me in her life, especially when she's on the outs with this man.

This Christmas she is having me, her neighbor, and her neighbor's brother to her house for dinner. I agreed a long time ago to go, but I feel really uncomfortable about going. DOn't get me wrong, I'm not going to back out because to tell the truth, I don't have any other plans for Christmas, and they are, after all, old friends.

My problem is I feel so depressed by her behavior. She is being threatened by extreme rent increases and also her building may be sold; in spite of this and the fact that another friend offered her a huge apartment at $200 a month rent, she refuses to leave the building because her man lives next door. They are not lovers, but they used to be a few years ago.

He just recently quit drinking alochol. He was a very very heavy drinker, and she doesn't drink at all, and is a control freak when it comes to alcohol consumption.

I need some advice about how to stop feeling resentment about her abandoning our friendship. I have tried to help her with the relationship over the years and have given up trying. After Christmas, I am thinking of just quietly exiting the relationship, i.e., I'll stop calling, trying to plan to see her, etc., because there's no use. But I can't stop feeling resentment, and also being around her depresses me. She smokes a lot and I think she is depressed; I don't know if this rubs off on me, but being around her, and especially thinking about being around the two of them, depresses me. I see that this person has given up her life for the better part of three years for a man who has given her virtually nothing in return. Now that he's no longer drinking and using crack (he's not in recovery, however), she is full of hope.

I don't understand what's wrong with me. Why can't I just live and live and let her lead her life as she sees fit? Why am I obsessing about this, and dreading Christmas?

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

At Tuesday, December 19, 2006 7:00:00 PM, Blogger Al-Anon Lifer said...

We don't give advice in Al-Anon except to say if we feel like we ourselves are obsessing about another person's behavior, whatever it is, we ourself may be codependent. Perhaps we need to go to Al-Anon for ourselves. Chances are we've had addicted people in our lives somewhere along the way, even if in past generations...


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