1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
As I reached for a familiar door this morning I took a moment to realize how I felt at that moment. I did not have any sense of panic or reserve. I was calm. An echo in the back of my mind “Use what you want and leave the rest.” I held onto that thought throughout the length of the meeting and still as I sit back to read, learn and share. I did not put a timeline on myself for working the steps. I feel that would’ve just been injustice to myself and there was no way of knowing what it would take each step of the way. Here begins my journey.
When I first discovered my boyfriends problem with alcohol I didn’t truly know how deep and severe it was. I had merely compared it to my past, or use, with alcohol. As an adult when I was going through something I did not know how to handle, or just did not want to handle, I would drink. I knew it wasn’t the fix and that I would still have to face it the following day, but I knew if I drank enough I wouldn’t care right in that moment. For me, though, when the morning came I didn’t need to pick up the bottle and refill my glass. (That is if I had even bothered with a glass the night before) With him it was different. For him it was because he had to go to work, because all the traffic lights were red, it was just a drink with lunch, a drink to celebrate, a hard day at work, a fight with the ex-wife, etc…
It became clear to me that there was no reason at all. These were just the excuses he gave me or told himself to justify each drink. At first I would get annoyed and tell him to take it easy, not to drink so much. I would reject his “excuses” and tell him to just handle his shit. As the volume of drinking increased, or rather my realization of it, I found myself questioning his love for me and my worth.
“If he loved me he wouldn’t keep drinking like this. I don’t make him happy so he has to keep getting drunk. If only I was prettier, if only I was skinnier, if only I was more attentive to his needs…”
Everyday the same. He would drink until the other version of him took over. It didn’t take much. He would get sloppy drunk, we would argue and then he would black out. He would wake up with no memory of all the horrible things he said to me. With no recollection at all of the hurt he had wrecked me with and no understanding as to why my eyes were swollen. He hadn’t seen the flood gates he tore down with his words and actions causing a rivers worth of tears to come screaming from my eyes.
My chest tightens as my all too vivid memories haunt me. I remember as I struggled to get the door open of the downstairs bathroom. I had just gotten home from work and we were supposed to be celebrating our anniversary. I shoved and shoved the door using all my weight with my shoulder as a battering ram. Steam surrounded me as it escaped the narrowly open door. I had only managed to open it enough to get my head in. He was blacked out on the floor, again. The hot shower had been running long enough that the steam had soaked every inch of the bathroom and even the fixtures outside the shower were dripping water. He lay, contorted, with his pants around his ankles. One boot on, one boot off and his truck keys dangling from his open hand. I let the door slam back into place as I fell to the floor, buried my face in my hands and sobbed. There will be no celebration today.
I became angry. I can look back and see myself standing over him yelling at him. His half-dressed or naked body on the floor of the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen floor or wherever he had passed out that day. I would scream until my throat burned and my voice was hoarse.
“This is not what I signed up for! What is wrong with you? You promised! Who is she?! You liar! You are not the man I fell in love with! Am I that horrible to have a life with that you have to drink it away?!”
When he would finally sober up, on those very short moments of the day, he would tell me he was sorry. He would tell me it wasn’t me and that he loved me. I stopped believing him when he was trashed just an hour later each time. I gave up. I gave up on taking care of myself. I gave up on being happy or having any hope. I thought “what was the point.”
Now as I sit here I can honestly say I know it was not me. It was him. I know this now largely in part due to a very few, one in particular, that have reached out and taken the time to really help me understand alcoholism and those who suffer from it. My approach at helping him in the past (no, not the yelling part) may not have been correct but it came from a place of love. I did not, and could not, control his drinking.
He is taking the steps to get better himself. Yes I may have basically shoved him through the doors of his first AA meeting with an ultimatum but he chose to continue. He is taking care of himself and now I must better myself. I must pick up the pieces to find myself again and to lower the wall I have built around myself. So, YES I admit (and understand) that I am powerless over alcohol….. but I have the power to realize it and to do something about it.
“Many of us have confused love with interference. We don’t know how to show affection or support without giving advice… We confuse caring with controlling …. to survive in an alcoholic environment”
“When we let go of the illusion of power over alcohol and over other people…we move toward hope.”
How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics. Pg. 46 and 47