Take a Seat

Posted on April 25, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Today I attended my regular home Al-Anon meeting, and was reminded of why I keep going back. I find such comfort, support, fellowship, and hope in that room.  Hearing other people’s comments/stories never fails to put my own life in to perspective.  And I always learn something new about either myself, or my situation.

If you have never attended an Al-Anon meeting, I encourage you to give it a try. There is most likely an Al-Anon meeting every day (or evening) of the week in your own community.  I suggest you try at least 5 different meetings to find one that feels right.  Different groups have different styles and personalities. My group is a parent focus group, although anyone can attend.  I originally started attending Al-Anon back in 2002, when my daughter, Hayley, was diagnosed with a serious eating disorder.  She was 23 years old, had graduated from college, and was living/working in California. Al-Anon is truly for any one whose life has been affected by any kind of addiction. The most important principle of Al-Anon is anonymity.  First names only are used, and you can be assured that what is said in the room, stays there. Feeling free to truly say what is in your heart and mind, with out fear of judgment, is incredibly comforting, helpful, and freeing.  AND – every single person in the room is there for the same reason you are – to learn how to cope with the devastation of addiction in the family.  And in the process, you  learn how to take care of yourself and be happy, and to acquire tools for strengthening and gaining balance in all relationships, in spite of what your “qualifier” is doing or not doing.

Taking life one day at a time has proven essential in both AA and in Al-Anon’s program of recovery for family members whose life has been adversely affected by addiction.  The Serenity Prayer is timeless and applicable to  all aspects of life:

For me, coming to realize and believe the three “Cs” is a constant work in process:  I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it.  And, learning how to love and support without enabling is, again, something that I need a lot of help with.

Today’s reminder in my daily Al-Anon meditation reading was this (paraphrased):

When something isn’t working the way I think it should, I need to slow down and reassess the situation. The answer I seek may be staring me in the face, but sometimes I have to let go of what I’m doing before I can see it. Forced solutions usually don’t work.  “Easy Does It” is an Al-Anon slogan that reminds us that we may not have all the answers today. This is not a failure, only a reality. It is not always our job to solve every problem. Or, maybe we are trying to take on something that is not our responsibility. Sometimes even doing nothing can be far more productive than taking a random action or forcing a solution. If we adopt a kinder, more relaxed attitude, we may be able to see the situation more clearly and act more appropriately.

I have often felt soooo anxious, that I  have to do something in regards to my daughter.  But through AlAnon, I have started to practice just letting things unfold – to pause before I act – to step back and take my time before jumping in.

Professional interventionist and star of the new TLC show, Addicted, Kristina Wandzilak, wrote a post on her blog, The Kristina Chronicles, called Take a Seat. The premise of this post applies not only to suffering addicts, but to their family members, as well.  AA, NA, and Al-Anon are all free, accessible any day of the week, and are a safe place to find help, comfort, and hope.

There are some things about Al-Anon that I can’t quite align myself with – but in general, I have learned to “ . . . take what I want and leave the rest”.  It works for me.  And so, I encourage you to take a seat at an Al-Anon meeting, and see what you think.

(You also might want to pick up the book How Al-Anon Works, an easy to read book that is full of wisdom and one that you can read over and over again – a manual for life, really) 

P.S. I also highly recommend Kristina Wandzilak’s compelling memoir, The Lost Years.    


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6 Responses to “Take a Seat”

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I was resistant to meetings but now I find just being in the room helps me. Great post.

Alanon has been so helpful. I am always learning new things. The statement “forced solutions rarely work” was a good reminder today.


It is so true about how important it is to keep coming back. I don’t know where I would be today without my Al-anon and Nar-anon meetings. Loved the book The Lost Years too.

I was going to say about “doing nothing” and then you did 🙂 I have the lost years book, just haven’t read it yet. I also have Tweak and Beautiful Boy… I just am guarding my “peace” the best I can and am not positive I can handle reading any of the 3 just yet… but I have them… and plan to… everyone who has mentioned them have given all three books great reviews 🙂
LOVE the book How Al-Anon Works! What an awesome book!
I too “take what I want and leave the rest”. I go to several “different” meetings, different times/days/places… but I have my 2 favorites – where I feel I get “fed” the most… but, I have never been to any meeting where I haven’t taken away SOMETHING.
This was really a great post.
God bless.

I think you have done a fantastic job of describing what Al-anon has to offer, Peg. The wisdom, hope, strength and “toolbox” provided by Al-anon have changed my life (and perhaps, my daughter’s too). Tonight (Sunday) the Hallmark Hall of Fame on CBS will present a dramatization of the story of Al-Anon’s “birth” – the story of Lois Wilson (Bill’s wife). Bill was the founder of AA. The show is on at 8:00 Central time, 9:00 Pacific (as they say, “consult your directory”). Winona Ryder plays the role of Lois Wilson. The show is called “When Love is Not Enough” (ain’t that the truth!).
Thanks for this great post, Peg.

Hi, Peg-
I’m glad you went to your meeting. As I’ve said, when I go to meetings, I always hear something of value to bring home with me. Even reading your post today, I am reminded that I cannot solve, control or change things other than myself. Heck, I found myself trying to figure out how to save Hayley. (Who do I think I am!) At times, I probably do you more harm than good by pushing my co-dependence issues on you…so please take everything I say with a grain of salt. Like everyone, I’m a work in progress.
I also wanted to thank you for the links to Kristina’s blog. I found it inspiring and sensible. I sent a link to my daughter (who I hope and pray remains clean) thinking that she might find Kristina’s words of value at this time in her life. Take care, Peg. You and Hayley remain in my prayers.

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