Attending Al-Anon Family Group meetings has saved many alcoholic marriages. Often times, when alcoholic spouses come to Al-Anon and start working on the program, they can develop coping skills that will enable them to find contentment and even happiness, whether or not the alcoholic is still drinking.
However, it doesn’t always work that way because sometimes they find the courage to change and leave. This is Donna’s story.
I divorced two alcoholics.
It was only after I was married to the second alcoholic, became active in Al-Anon, and also benefited from private family treatment programs, that I learned the symptoms of alcoholism and found that the previous husband had also been an alcoholic.
During my years of intense involvement with Al-Anon, the message I heard – accurately or inaccurately – and what I read in the original ODAT (One Day At A Time) suggested the possibility of my marriage breaking down very likely was reversible if I would change.
Understand conflicting messages
The December 30th page quoted in the content under “Divorce” states in particular: “If I want to make a major change that also affects other lives, I would first like to consider the possible outcome. Have I really tried to examine my own and correct? ” Error? Is there any way I can improve my mindset? I’ll keep the big decision waiting until I try this! “This was followed by this quote:” The really smart solution might be to improve myself. ”
Since I had already accepted Al-Anon’s first step: “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable,” I tried to make sense of seemingly contradicting messages.
Deal with reality
I worked hard on my own recovery after becoming codependent. I kept my sponsor and spoke to her almost every day, but switched to a different Al-Anon group. My reading of the Al-Anon Conference-approved literature and articles and books on alcoholism continued.
Finally, I came to terms with these beliefs:
- I was powerless over alcohol.
- I stopped activating.
- I could stand on my head and spit nickel and not influence the alcoholic’s behavior.
- The alcoholic showed no desire to change.
- The alcoholic seemed to be someone who was unable to be honest, least of all with himself.
- I had stopped feeling and acting like I was a victim.
- I had the emotional strength to leave what had become the travesty of marriage.
I went away from marriage
I also recognized the profound meaning of this statement: “Whatever I do is right for me is automatically right for those around me.” This belief is wrong when there is selfishness in a motive.
I filed for divorce and walked away from an alcoholic who volunteered that he wasn’t good marriage material. I also said goodbye to years of emotional and psychological abuse. I was walking away from something that could have been a success.
Marriage itself was powerless over alcohol; Its many positive ingredients couldn’t withstand prolonged doses of alcohol poisoning.
Note: Donna Thompson is the editor of Challengesin which she writes her column, Get a life, a publication for people in recovery and their families.