On a recent trip home I got to join my family for their weekly breakfast. The waitress took everyone’s order, and then looked to me for mine. I had no idea what my order would be, as I didn’t have a menu. Everyone else knew everything on the menu! So, when I asked her for one, and she brought it back, I jokingly apologized for being the “problem child” this morning. This was immediately met with another family member stating “I hate to tell you, dear, but you always have been.” Of course, I said I already knew this.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8
In 2007 I volunteered for my first tour to Iraq. I had been sober a long time by then, but I was afraid. Would I hold up under fire? Would my men follow my orders? Would I freeze in the face of danger? These and many more thoughts flooded my brain.
Earlier this year the General Service Office (GSO) of Alcoholics Anonymous in New York, NY published guidance on “Safety in A.A.”. The paper was entitled "Safety and A.A.: Our Common Welfare". Printed on January 25, 2017, this paper laid out the A.A. philosophy and helpful suggestions for keeping A.A. groups safe.
So you’ve been asked to bring a meeting into a facility. Congratulations! What an honor and privilege it is to be involved in service. As it states on page 89 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous:
“To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends--this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.”
2. What other people think of me is none of my business. I have a sponsor and significant others to whom I turn for advice and suggestions. If I try to live my life to appease and please those around me, I become a people pleaser. And there’s an app for people pleasing – it’s called Al-Anon.
When I am facilitating Family Program sessions I often ask participants to think of a family affected by addiction like a mobile floating over a child’s crib. When you imagine a mobile, there are a few things that instantly come to mind. You’ll see a bunny, bear, frog, and bird: rotating around and helping the mobile to maintain balance. There’s often quiet music playing in the background.
As a young child, my father was in the depths of his alcoholism. I remember feeling frightened, confused and uncertain on some days, then happy, joyous, and carefree on others. I didn’t realize that my father’s drinking often determined which feelings would be present in me and my family. I did know that I was never going to be like my father!
I made it through another Mother’s Day. As a person who loves to celebrate, I definitely love the aspect of honoring the loving, nurturing women in our lives. And, yet, it can still be a reminder of something that is missing in my own life – something that I dreamed of that didn’t take place because of the disease of alcoholism.
The expectation of the holiday season can be stressful for everyone. For reasons that might be obvious, that stress seems to be even greater in families dealing with recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction.
There is a simple practice that can reduce that stress and offer us the opportunity for a meaningful holiday experience; that is a mindfulness practice. It allows us to stop our racing thoughts, which are usually produced by some form of fear. It allows us to make choices that support our well-being. It allows us to be present.
Family Recovery Series: 6 Things You Can Do to Help an Alcoholic Loved One.
Part 4: Work Together as a Family