July 10, 2011
When I entered the Al-Anon program, I had been waging a war against my alcoholic husband’s disease for well over a decade. And I was exhausted- depleted. However, I was so determined to win and certain there was just some little epiphany around the next corner, I couldn’t give up. (which is what it felt like to me- giving up.) So when I entered these rooms and was told I am powerless over this disease, I was enraged and relieved at the same time. I didn’t want to be powerless, though it had been proven to me over and over again.
I fought with the demon that kept insisting it was my wifely duty to help and protect him when he wouldn’t do it for himself. Sympathy turned to resentment, resentment turned to self-pity and self-righteousness, and before I knew it, I was a mess — a shell of the person I used to be. And, I was so tired; I felt like I was either going to shred myself from frustration and anger or just lay down and let the world come get me. And any given day could have gone either way.
When I accepted the powerlessness, though, when I embraced it and truly accepted it, I felt such a guilty freedom from it. I couldn’t control or cure his disease. I couldn’t help him. How heartbreaking! I had spent so much of my time researching alcoholism, offering advice, strong-arming him, looking at long-term side effects of alcoholism and sobbing over my husband’s cirrhosis 30 years before it ever happened… to say I was consumed is an understatement. But the freedom came from knowing that the responsibility to save him and cure him wasn’t mine. So I could lay down my sword and begin looking at myself and the collateral damage done in my own life. The guilt came from feeling like I was abandoning my partner on the battle field. It took me a long time to recognize that I didn’t belong on that battle field to begin with!
I’ve been in recovery for nearly three years, now. I am so grateful for this program and the twelve steps! I’m grateful that my Higher Power is in control and that each day offers an opportunity for growth.