11 May Al Anon and a Family Disease
New Life House, is a light shining in the darkness for men in need of recovery from drugs or alcohol addiction. It has been my experience (through my son), that the New Life House recovery homes are a place of love, peace and support through a long term program that is 12 step based. It has been said, that “the road of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, and from what I can see New Life House is able to navigate the long journey of recovery very well. When my son went into New Life House, he was at an incredibly low point in his life, and needed direction and guidance. He found the support he needed to get and to stay sober in a group of brothers that all shared a similar story and he was able to change his life one day at a time.
I can not directly talk about his actual journey, as that is his to tell, but I can talk about mine. New Life House encourages family members of the guys in the home to seek their own recovery, either through AA or Al Anon, (as the case may be). I played a part in this disease of addiction. “Alcoholism and addiction is a family disease”, this is a saying that I heard a few years ago when I first entered into Al Anon, but I didn’t truly understand what it meant. It took time for the wisdom of the Al Anon program to marinate in me. Now, I understand that alcoholism really is a disease, where the person’s drinking creates a problem in some portion of their lives and where each member in the family may play a part (including me). I most certainly did play a part in this disease and in my family dynamic. I am not an alcoholic (or at least I don’t believe I am). I am a co-dependent, and an adult child of an alcoholic. In addition to that, my father was an untreated Al Anon, and I married a woman who is also an adult child of an alcoholic; moreover, I am the father of an alcoholic. In (Al Anon conference approved literature) the writing; Understanding the Alcoholic it says: “…We react to an alcoholic’s behavior. We see that the drinking is out of hand and try to control it. We are ashamed of the public scenes but in private we try to handle it. It isn’t long before we feel we are to blame and take on the hurts, the fears, the guilt of an alcoholic…”. I had to learn what it meant to be, “co-dependent” or “enabling”. I thought I was being loving and helpful, but my traits of co-dependency became clear for me in Al Anon when I did a 4th step personal inventory: I have a need for being liked, a need for approval, my peace and serenity is based on my alcoholic’s struggles. I focused my energy on solving my loved one’s problems. I thrive on control and order to feel calm. I try to manipulate other people and I become obsessed with taking care of others, and the list goes on. It has been said that the alcoholic is, “Selfish, self-seeking, dishonest and in fear”, but that is me as well. My understanding now is that alcoholism and addiction is a family disease, and that alcoholism and co-dependency both manifest physically and psychologically, and they both have environmental factors. They are really the same disease on opposite sides of the same coin.
My son is in a new emotional place today because of the hard work that he has done, but also because of the love and support he has received from the house. He works his program, and I try to work mine. He continues to travel on a healthy and productive road that is sober and moves forward bravely with honesty and courage.
Today, I have more peace and serenity and I encourage all those who struggle with these diseases to come to know the blessing of a 12 step programs and the gifts that the New Life House homes offer to men and to their families.
-John T., New Life House father