This week I have asked one of my readers, Jody, to share some thoughts about Alanon. Since I have been the 12 Step Recovery Editor for Bellaonline, Jody writes me often to comment on what I have written and to share her experience, strength, and hope. I believe she works a beautiful, spiritual program in Alanon and I invited her to share some of her thoughts with all of you. Thank you, Jody and namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.
So You Love An Alcoholic – By Jody (Guest Author)
I was thinking about the meeting last night. The beginner’s meeting. We seemed to focus on “so you love an alcoholic”. Basically, I said I love one; I’m in love with one. I’ve always picked alcoholics. “Some are dead, and some are living. In my life, I’ve loved them all.” I said that I don’t believe my “picker” is broken. I pick charming, generous, intelligent, tenacious, very funny, loving men. Alanon is helping me understand that I can be in a relationship with an alcoholic without being consumed by one. That is, if I choose to be.
And last night I was thinking that the program is for “friends and families of alcoholics”. It’s not for enemies of alcoholics. Maybe that meeting is Wednesday, I don’t know. But Tuesday 7 PM is a meeting for “friends and families”.. Tuesday 7PM is not an “I hate an alcoholic” meeting. Tuesday 7PM is not an “I hate the disease” meeting. In four years all I have heard is how to live with an alcoholic in my life; how not to lose my healthy personal boundaries around an alcoholic; how not to lose my mind behind the antics of an alcoholic who is consumed by obsession; how to solve every emotional and physical problem with a spiritual solution.
I heard “take care of yourself”. I also heard “keep the focus on yourself”. I’m in love with an under-earner, over spender alcoholic who is riddled with resentments. I don’t know how to live with that in spite of his positive traits. That is way too distracting for me. I’m not on that step yet. The program tells me that I am entitled to take all the time I need to figure it out. I don’t have to explain my process to anyone.
I wasn’t taking care of myself when I was reacting to the alcoholic. I wasn’t focusing on myself when I was distracted by the alcoholic’s strong feelings. My self-will and self-reliance brought me into an emotional entanglement with the alcoholic. That’s very different than a relationship in which both people have healthy personal boundaries. I believe that even if one person has healthy personal boundaries, there will be a shift in the relationship. I believe that if one person can keep the focus on themselves, there will be a shift.
I don’t know what the shift will be. I’m only in the efforts business. God is in the results business. So I make the effort to trust God (Steps 1-3), clean my own house (Steps 4-11) and help others (Step 12). And I let go of the outcome.