Originally, I thought I came to Al‑Anon to get help for my son. My son, my baby. I used to call him my “police partner” because he went everywhere with me. But things changed. When he was 14, I put him in intensive therapy, which met almost every day. When he was 15, I sent him to Utah for a wilderness program. At 16, he went to his first in-patient rehab program. In the past eight years, he has been in and out of drug rehab, sober living, and intensive out-patient treatment. He’s been in the psychiatric wing of two hospitals, in countless emergency rooms, and in and out of jail. He’s lived at home, with friends, in motels, and on the streets. He has broken into my house, broken doors, ripped screens off windows, and stolen money and credit cards. I have seen him so drunk that he couldn’t walk or talk, so high that he was talking to imaginary people, so sick that he was puking out my car window, and so sad and scared that he sobbed uncontrollably for hours.
Before I go any further, I want to make it very clear that I adore my son. I hate alcoholism and addiction and what this disease has done to him, but I adore my son! When I went to my first Twelve Step meeting, I was desperately looking for answers, for someone to tell me what to do to fix my son. That may be why many of us started going to Al‑Anon, but it isn’t the reason I stayed.
When I found my home group, I thought, I’ve finally found my people. The members of my group were all parents of alcoholics and addicts, and they understood the special pain, fear, guilt, resentment, and grief that comes from being a parent of a child with this disease.
I don’t come to Al‑Anon meetings now to cure my son; I come to heal myself. Because despite all the sadness and grief I have felt and will continue to feel, I’m tired of living in chaos. As a parent of an alcoholic/addict, sadness and grief are a part of my life. But other things also exist.
So, I am working on acceptance of “things I cannot change.” I cannot change or cure my son’s disease; only he can do that. My acceptance of this comes and goes. Sometimes I feel like a small child having a tantrum: “No! I don’t want this to be true!” But I realize that until I can accept the reality of my son’s addiction, his disease, I won’t be able to take any action or move forward in my own life. Acceptance can lead to surrender, which frees me to work on myself. My recovery is definitely a work in progress. And that’s why I “Keep Coming Back” to these meetings every week.
By Marjorie L., Colorado
The Forum, July 2022
Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.