Family Matters V
By Maryo Strong, LPN
Drug Rehab:

Little did I know when I was hired as an LPN at Cushing Valley Hope Drug Rehab, when it opened in 1974, that not only would I find my most rewarding nursing career, but my self-defeating behavior would be revealed that had a negative influence in my life and I would begin my recovery of co-dependency. This was a condition I didn’t know I had until it was strongly suggested that I go to Al-anon. Shock was my immediate response. Me? Why me? It was everyone else in my family who needs to go to meetings and it wasn’t Al-anon they needed! I was the responsible one. I was praying every night to be perfect and (with all my might) trying to fix each and everyone I came in contact with.

I loved my job and was so comfortable with the patients so…not wanting to tarnish my persona as a perfect employee, I went to Al-anon. I was very confused in the beginning. How in the world was I going to help my family or any of the drug rehab patients if I was supposed to “let go and let God?” My understanding at this point in my life was that it was my job to get perfect and help everyone else, and then when I died, God would let me know how I did and if I passed or failed. The meetings were so mild…and no one was sharing what to do with these wonderful people who were using various chemicals and ruining their health and causing chaos in their lives. It was discouraging and I was not impressed. I was depressed for a long, long time.

The ray of hope for me was the glimpse of light I saw in two women at a meeting who were working an Al-anon program. One of them was living with a practicing alcoholic, yet radiated such peace and yes, serenity…I wanted some of that. If I had not experienced these two women, I shudder to think that I might have missed the boat and never found my program. This encouraged me to keep coming back. It did not happen over night. How sad to now see how cynical and mistrusting I was for so long. I continue to go to meetings today, to insure that a light may shine in me since I have developed a working relationship with a power greater than myself and that it might be an encouragement to someone else.

Untreated codependents and family members will continue to gravitate to relationships with people who have compulsive disorders. I did. If we don’t reach out and get help to cope with the emotional pain we feel, our futures are predictive and bleak. We become alcoholics or addicts, die of stress related diseases, commit suicide or wind up in a psych ward as I did. Today, I share with the newcomers in Cushing Valley Hope’s Family Drug Rehab Program, led by Vicky Nash, MA, LADC, that Al-anon has been my healthy parent. I have now learned how to have healthy relationships with family, friends and co-workers. The most important healthy relationship I have is with myself. Early on I had abandoned myself. I was addicted to people, places and things and anything outside myself to get the focus off me…as I did not feel worthy. Today I value myself…my decisions are based on, “Is this decision good for me?” I have learned and practice acts of humility such as prayer, going to meetings, calling my sponsor, reading Al-anon literature and it’s like squirting my life with WD40. By the grace of God, a solution comes, or a state of acceptance replaces negativity and fear. I claim for myself, today, the promise in the AA Big Book that if I work the 12-Step program, I can be and I am happy, joyous and free!

Al-anon Became My Healthy Parent…

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