A former husband was my “qualifier” for 12 Step recovery. When he first attempted sobriety, I was very excited to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with him, but soon learned that there was a program for friends and families of alcoholics.
“The dynamics of alcohol addiction were all over my childhood…. I absorbed fears and addiction-driven behaviors, even though I never became a drinker.”
In fact I was told, unceremoniously, “You need to go to Al-Anon!”
I still attend meetings weekly, even though that marriage ended long ago. So why would anyone want to continue when there is no longer an active drinker in their life? I now understand that alcoholism is a generational, family “illness” and that it affected me from the moment I was born (and maybe even before!). My father, his older brother and sister were active drinkers. When I was ten years old, my uncle died of cirrhosis of the liver.
The dynamics of alcohol addiction were all over my childhood. I often felt like I was from another planet when with friends and families that did not have alcohol-related problems. I absorbed fears and addiction-driven behaviors, even though I never became a drinker.
I once heard that 50% of children of alcoholics become alcoholics themselves, 25% choose alcoholics as partners and friends, and the other 25% just go through life all f-d up! This is obviously not a real statistic, but it does capture the long-term effects on families with problem drinking.
Today, I keep coming back to strengthen mentally and spiritually. The 12 Steps, Al-Anon literature and program service are some ways I stay healthy. I have released painful memories and practice loving self-care one day at a time.
by A.L., Berkeley CA