When I broke up with my first boyfriend after five years together, my mother arrived to move me back home. On our 12-hour drive, we would go hours at a time not speaking as I silently cried. Once, when she punctured the silence to ask if I’d remembered to pack a towel in my travel bag, I realized I felt more alone and invisible in the car with her than I had at any point in my breakup.
As soon as we got back to my hometown, I looked up my first Al‑Anon meeting. I knew my mother had been an alcoholic, but A.A. had “fixed” her, and she’d stopped going to meetings before I was even born, so I worried I wouldn’t qualify to attend Al‑Anon. However, I was welcomed by everyone as soon as I arrived. After a lifetime with a mother who tried to show her support by “doing” things for me, it was an amazing relief to find a fellowship who didn’t do anything for me, but instead sat back calmly as they listened, acknowledged, and accepted my feelings.
At that same meeting, two weeks later, a member began talking about hiding alcohol from a partner. This triggered the memory of how, during my relationship, I could only keep a miniature bottle of cooking wine in the refrigerator—a quantity too small for my partner to get drunk on. When I bought the tiny bottles of cooking wine, I would hide all but one in my underwear drawer so that my partner would not find and drink them. All of a sudden, a thousand miles away and a month after the breakup, I realized I had spent the past five years of my life with an alcoholic!
This revelation gave immediate credence to the sharings and readings about alcoholic family patterns and inspired me to find a Sponsor right away, work the Steps, and develop an understanding of how my dry-but-still-dysfunctional family had shaped my ideas about relationships and my perception of my own emotional needs.
Several years later, I still struggle to communicate and connect emotionally with my mother, but I’m working my program alongside my fiancé, who has ten years of sobriety under his belt and a commitment to growth that supports and inspires mine. Al‑Anon has removed the rose-tinted glasses of denial and helped me to see myself, my life, and my loved ones for who we are instead of who I think we should be.
By Audrey G., Oregon
The Forum, June 2022
Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.