Member Stories

I struggled with detachment until I learned to keep the focus on me

Learning to detach from my spouse’s alcoholic behavior was difficult for me. As a new Al-Anon member, I listened eagerly as other members described what detachment meant to them.

I was sitting in my living room reading a book, feeling calm and content, when my husband came home drunk and angry. He burst into the house and immediately tried to start an argument with me.

I had a eureka moment! I felt like my Al-Anon brain took over and looked down upon the situation from an observer’s point of view. I said to myself, “I didn’t cause the drinking; I can’t control it; and I can’t cure it.”

Instead of getting angry, upset, and defeated, I stayed calm. I put my book down, stood up, and said, “I’m not arguing with you. I love you. I’m going to run errands.” I walked away and refused to engage.

I left the house and spent the next half hour reminding myself to keep the focus on me. I couldn’t wait to share my epiphany with my group. I hope my experience helped other members learn detachment.

By Anonymous, Canada
The Forum
, April 2010

© Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Why Al-Anon? The answer is kindness

Every once in a while I’m asked, “What brought you to Al-Anon?” The question always makes me smile. The answer, for me, is kindness.

I was desperate and alone. My coping skills were not working anymore. I had always done what I was told, to avoid derision and scorn. I had chosen to be invisible, so I could avoid the abuse in my household. But at 20 and pregnant, neither of these skills was working. 

Everyone I knew had an opinion. Everyone happily shared it. Everyone demanded that I take the action they were purporting. It did not matter that the actions were diametrically opposed to each other; people demanded that I do as they said.

I was living in a horror of mental and emotional abuse. I had no idea how to use my own voice, or to make a choice based solely on what I wanted or how I viewed a situation. All I had ever heard was that I was inept, stupid, and incompetent. Hadn’t I proven it by getting pregnant?

In the midst of the chaos, one of my mother’s friends asked me what I thought about the situation. Never before in my lifetime had I been asked my opinion. I had grown up with, “When I want your opinion, I’ll tell you what it is!”  I started to cry. I sobbed out all of my fear and confusion. Today, I know what a miracle that was.

Another coping mechanism I’d learned: never tell what was really going on lest it be used against me. She patted my hand and said, “It doesn’t matter. Come with me to an Al-Anon meeting.” I had no idea what Al-Anon was, but she was gentle, calm, and kind. I found myself climbing into her car and we drove to a meeting. That was more than 30 years ago. Her kindness got me here. The kindness of those who attend keeps me here.

By Viki M., Washington
The Forum, march 2015

© Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Download Previous member stories

PDF   Finding the right Al-Anon meeting
PDF   Suicidal because my attempts to control failed
PDF   Conquering the spiritual disease of fear
PDF   Honesty begins with staying true to myself
PDF   Forgiving myself was the only path to serenity
PDF   Overcoming my inner emptiness
PDF   One Alateen conference changed my life
PDF   Celebrating anniversaries, making amends
PDF   I was ‘crazy’ in love - and couldn’t blame the drinker
PDF   I came to understand and accept my feelings
PDF   As an outsider, I couldn’t figure out Al-Anon members
PDF   Al-Anon - after everything else failed
PDF   At mid-life I found self-knowledge
PDF   How I’ve changed since my first meeting
PDF   From anger to serenity

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