The Holidays are fast approaching and with them comes stress, both positive and negative, for all of us but especially for those who struggle with an addiction and the people who love them. Emotions and expectations run high and so many social events include drinking.
Those of you who have read one or more of my Malone mysteries know that the subject of alcoholism and The Twelve Steps of recovery run throughout the series. My main character’s husband, David, is an alcoholic and his wife, Ann, is affected by his disease.
If you’re not familiar with Twelve Step programs, here’s the scoop. The programs were created and are designed to help people overcome various addictions. For example, there’s AA for alcoholics, Alanon for the friends and families of alcoholics, OA for over-eaters, NA for those who are addicted to drugs and many others. Today, I'd like to talk about Alanon.
Alanon is an anonymous fellowship. The identities of the people who attend meetings and what's said in those rooms stays there. “Let go and let God” is one of the slogans in Alanon and in every Twelve Step program. It's a reminder that we’re not in control; God is. What does the slogan really mean? It means surrendering our false sense of control over other people and life in general and getting out of God’s way. It means taking a deep breath, knowing that He will do for us what we could never do for ourselves. And it is the biggest stress reliever there is.
I’m proud to say that I’ve attended Alanon meetings for the past twenty years. Going to my first meeting wasn’t easy because, back then, I had a hard time asking for help or even realizing, much less admitting, that I had a problem. The alcoholic in my life was the one with the problem, right? Wrong!
Because, like my main character, Ann, I was affected by the disease of alcoholism and I needed help dealing with it. I was miserable and desperate to find a solution. Going to that meeting was the single most important thing I’ve ever done. As it turned out, I use Alanon every day. Is there still stress in my life? Of course. But when I remember to use the principles I've learned in Alanon, my stress is reduced and my life is so much better.
So, if you’re struggling with another person’s addiction (or your own), I urge you to find a meeting in your neighborhood. Believe me, no one there will judge you; each person is struggling or has struggled with many of the same issues you’re facing. They understand. And, if you try one meeting and don’t feel comfortable, don’t give up. Find a different meeting. I promise you that you’ll be very glad you did.