Last week, I went to my local Al-Anon meeting for the first time since before Christmas. I have explained before that the Al-Anon philosophy is taking its time to have an effect on me (if any) and I am rather stuck on Step 3 which is handing my life over to a Higher Power. I have no idea what or who my Higher Power is and whilst stuck on Step 3, I have no real hope in hell of progressing through to the next stages and beyond. Maybe somewhere along the way, I have missed a vital link or important piece of information. I find writing my blog does me more good, to be honest,as I can get all the anger,frustration and despair off my chest. Writing it down just seems to be the help I need. Yet some people have been going to the group for over ten years and swear by its usefulness. I just go because I like to meet people who have been in a similar situation to me and who can empathise with me. Until you have lived with alcoholism, you really have no idea how horrific and life-changing it can be. The group members come from all walks of life, are all ages and have different faiths, but we all have one thing in common....we have lived with an alcoholic parent, partner or offspring. I enjoy the chat after the meeting rather than the meeting itself.
At last week's meeting, someone new turned up. A young girl in her late twenties together with her mother. Her brother is the alcoholic and is causing so much grief in the family. Like many people who first come to Al-Anon, they were at their wits' end and were looking for that magic wand to solve their problem. Sadly the only person who can wave that magic wand is the alcoholic themself. It is the alcoholic who must first recognise that they are an alcoholic and make the first move to stop drinking. Only they can agree to try detox (i.e. come off the alcohol under a medically-assisted programme) and then rehab (i.e.six-month long stay in a centre where the reason for drinking is analysed and coping mechanisms are learned.) Only the alcoholic can fight the demons and stay firm against temptation, for that is truly the hardest part. Relatives and friends can advise, support, cajole, beg, nag, plead, but it needs co-operation on the part of the alcoholic to bring about the change to sobriety. If the alcoholic won't see that they are addicted or refuse to do anything about it, that is unfortunately where you hit the brick wall.
I felt sorry for the newcomers at the meeting. They were clearly so desperate, like I had once been. The young girl sobbed uncontrollably as she unfolded her story. Her mother kept walking away from the group in tears as it was too much for her to hear, even though she lives with it every day. It made me so angry to hear of yet another victim of alcohol and their damage to those around them. It is often said that alcoholism is a contagious disease. Only one person is the alcoholic, but it affects everyone else in the family. All the people in my group are such lovely people. That is why I like to talk to them afterwards.They really do not deserve all this and certainly did not ask for it.