This father’s experience with Al Anon began as a way to understand his son’s addiction. Al Anon allows him to detach from the disease and helps their bond.
In the early days of dealing with my son’s drug issues, the quality of my day was dependent on what he did or did not do. Since most of his conduct failed to meet my expectations for him, most of my days were filled with disappointment or anger. My emotional caboose was attached to his drug fueled engine. One thing is for certain, there was very little joy in my life.
Although it took me a while, I finally found the doors of an Al-Anon meeting. One of the first things I heard there was that I needed to detach from my son and start to take care of me. I thought that sounded selfish based on an artificial moral code that I dragged along from childhood. But I soon learned that it was not about being selfish. It was about finding serenity for myself and allowing my son to find his own path through experiencing consequences.
Detaching does not mean I don’t care about or love my son. To the contrary, I love him unconditionally. But I have learned to separate the disease from the person. As a result, I don’t react to his diseased behavior. I leave him to the consequences of his behaviors, and refuse to enable his disease by “rescuing” him. By ceasing to enable his disease, I let him look for his own answers, which he is finding in recovery. Once I stopped being part of the problem, I became part of the solution. By detaching, I simply got out of his way. I let him know that I respected his right to make choices. As a result, we have a much healthier relationship.
Learning how to detach was just one of the gifts of Al Anon. The caring and supportive interchange with other parents and use of the Al Anon tools has allowed me to find joy and serenity in my life. Which is why I continue to be a grateful member of Al Anon.