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...

Monday, November 30, 2009

NOT the Monday Blues

I discovered more about myself yesterday, that by putting up walls with my parents to protect myself, I had also prevented any kind of love or affection to get through. As I replaced those walls with boundaries during the time they were here, I let some "good" through and was still able to keep out the "bad".

As in most things "Al-Anon", it had to do with my attitude and my choices. I have to say this worked really well for me, but only after once again suffering through the extreme emotions I didn't let myself feel as a child. Maybe, maybe, I've finally learned. Just for today, I can accept my imperfections in my progress on this road of recovery.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I usually sleep until 7 a.m. but I heard a thump this morning at 5:30 and it was my mother falling down the stairs. Well, she just missed the last step. She's okay with her feelings bruised more than anything. But you'd have thought the world had come to an end. So I'm TIRED and now ANGRY after trying to have a quiet time and listening to about the 100th complaint in the last two days about my coffee being too strong and bitter. So I went into the kitchen and got out a different brand of coffee and handed it to my mother and said "Here, you can use this to make your own coffee in the pot I put in your room." Then I left the kitchen.

I wanted to go on and say that at least I make a pot of coffee for my guests (not to mention that I put coffee and a small pot in your room so you could make your own) when you don't make coffee for us. My parents each have their own single-cup pot and we aren't allowed to touch my mom's because she has it set up for her first cup. But there's been no thank you for anything, only complaints, or at least that's what I've heard. It's all I heard yesterday when we went to Whole Foods for coffee, how bad the coffee was because it was too strong. I used up my water bottle watering down their coffee.

I could go on and on but I won't bore you. Let's just say that I have a long way to go in my recovery process, and THANK GOD I HAVE AN AL-ANON MEETING IN A HALF HOUR!!! My goal in this life is that "unconditional serenity" I've only recently heard about, that I can be serene regardless of what is going on around me, including when my sleep has been interrupted and I am tested beyond my human patience. So GOD, GRANT ME THE SERENITY AND FAST!!! Thanks for listening.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Practicing These Principles...

Step 12 says to "practice these principles in all our affairs." The word "all" would mean holiday visits with family members, even those we don't like. I tried to put my finger on what exactly I didn't like about my mother last night as I watched her behavior at my Thanksgiving table. It wasn't her politics, although I disagree with those. My husband and father were having a lively conversation although they disagreed with one another. It wasn't her religion as I've become tolerant of that, expecting others to be tolerant of my beliefs. It wasn't her many physical ailments, even though she's had them for two decades, at least, and is now almost 80 years old so "deserves" a few aches and pains.

Instead, it was her unnamable disease, some kind of mental illness or personality disorder. Like the kind of arthritis she has that doctors haven't been able to name (strangely enough), her particular behavioral problem is hard to diagnose, especially for a layperson like myself. There might be a name for it should my mother think something was askew and seek help. Even my father, though a doctor, doesn't seem to think she's different and bends over backwards to take care of her. I've always thought this was why she continued in this behavior, because it works for her to get what she wants/needs.

She's not an alcoholic (although she might be addicted to pain pills) but tends to be self-centered like a practicing alcoholic. It's always about her. No matter what the topic of conversation, she always makes sure it comes back to her. The best example of this was at my sister's 50th birthday party where she announced that no one had bothered to throw her a 5oth birthday party. My father, out of character, told her that she had insisted she was 39 and holding, so why would they celebrate her getting older? Last night when everyone was talking about anything other than her, she just stared at her food not eating anything. I asked her if she was okay and she said she's lost her appetite lately. "Hmmm," I said, "you did that once before" (referring to years before when she became annorexic "dying for attention" and didn't get "well" until my father succumbed to cooking for her).

Well, my making that remark didn't work for her as it wasn't the kind of attention she wanted, so she started to pick at her food and took forever, but she ate most of her meal. Apparently, her not being hungry hadn't worked for her because no one fell for it, no one made a big stink about it. Today she's tried a lot of different things for attention, the latest being carsick after a two-mile ride from the grocery store. "You know me," she says after every little incident. I've said a few times, "No, I don't" because frankly they're new and I just don't want to play her game. I have grandchildren to dote on these days.

So the question for me last night and then again this morning in my prayers and meditations was to figure out how I could keep my serenity while having my mother in my home for three more days? I recently was able to forgive my blood father whom I don't have an ongoing relationship with, but that was forgiving someone with whom I have no relationship. In fact, I gave myself permission to make amends to myself by not being in touch with him. How do I forgive someone who is still sick but with whom I have chosen to have a relationship, albeit through few and fairly short visits?

The answer is still the same: I can forgive without getting drawn into their illness. With my father, it's not having any contact. With my mother, it's not falling for her tricks. Been there, done that. It doesn't work for me, and I am the one I need to take care of first and foremost. Mainly because I wasn't nurtured by either of my parents. My best parent is my step-father who adopted me, and he did all of us kids a disservice by catering to my mom's every wish. It really is sad, but it is still his choice. My choice is to care for those who really need it after I've taken care of myself.

This is how, just for today, I'm practicing these principles in all my affairs :-)