Family Matters VI
By Vicki M. - N.
I am a grateful recovering alcoholic, as well as a grateful recovering
survivor of a couple of dysfunctional family systems.
I have been on every side of this disease, beginning as the daughter
of an alcoholic, the wife of an alcoholic (big surprise), my
own alcoholism, and the mother of an alcoholic. Yes, this is
indeed a disastrous family disease that destroys wonderful, loving
people in the process.
I understand, well, the pain ALL feel as they stumble through
the abyss otherwise known as addiction. I also know, first hand,
the pain of the family member is always equal to the pain of the
addicted loved one, and, in some cases, maybe even greater.
We, as family members,
are sometimes unaware of the harmful
consequences we have also experienced in our major life
areas, just as the alcoholic has. When we begin to focus on
ourselves, making lists of the examples in each of our life areas,
we are on our way to a new freedom with accepting the First
Step of Al-Anon, and our journey towards taking back our lives.
I began attending Al-Anon
when my son had his 22nd birthday
as a patient at the Cushing Valley Hope Rehab Center.
That was 16 years ago, and thank God I humbled myself and went. I was already
working as a drug and rehab center
counselor and working my own AA program, as well, and had absolutely no idea how much the
Al-Anon program would mean to me and my recovery! I found
out Al-Anon is NOT a “side-car” to AA, rather as critical to
those who love alcoholics as is AA to the addicted one. At
once, I realized that working with families and helping them
understand the help available was a major part of my life’s
As a family therapist, I
have found exactly how difficult
it is for family members
to begin to focus on
themselves, rather than
their alcoholic, and also to
accept that recovery takes a while sometimes feeling worse.
It is exactly the same courage that family members must
muster up, that our rehab center patients display by coming to treatment--
no difference at all. In some cases, maybe even a little bit more
denial! We begin to share with our families how important
they are, and valuable and capable, and it astounds them that
someone recognizes those assets in them. They begin to let
down those walls, and slowly begin the search for self by taking
their own personal inventory, then sharing it with a chaplain, if
possible. They are on their way! How gratifying it is to see
families begin to heal, both individually and together, and then
look forward to living the best lives they possibly can, because
they understand how much they deserve that. I am so grateful
to be part of these families’ process, and share what I have
learned..I thank God for the gifts I receive every single day !
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