I am a double winner, which means I am alcoholic/addict as well as an Al-anon. I have been in relationships with other Alcoholics where I was the Al-anon and they were my qualifier. I was on the other side of the disease, my life had been affected by someone else’s drinking and I found myself struggling with anger, detachment, control, fixing, managing and frustrated with the alcoholics/addicts behavior.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous addresses the alcoholic’s physical allergy to alcohol and drugs. How does this translate into the life of an Al-anon? In Al-anon, I relished the idea that my physical allergy was to the alcoholic/addict! When initially learning about Al-anon, I recommend Al-anon literature and Blueprint for Progress, but thereafter I recommend the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Lois Wilson and Bill Wilson resemble the mother and father of the 12-step program. They stressed the gravity of living a spiritual life and having a spiritual awakening as the result of working the 12 steps. By experiencing the work in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous in Al-anon, we recognize the physical allergy to be internal, opposed to the alcoholic who has external influences such as alcohol and drugs. In my experience, the physical allergy stemmed from the adrenaline emerging in my anger, fixing, controlling, managing and yelling. Adrenaline had the power to kill.
Adrenaline fueled my self-will; I pursued chaos with the objective to help. However pure my intentions were, they resulted in attempts to change, manage and control others. Asserting my self-will on other’s behavior, takes away the opportunity for a higher power to enter my life and theirs. I resolutely needed to examine the adrenaline that fuels my powerlessness and unmanageability. When this adrenaline released in my brain, it raised my blood pressure. In addition, hypertension caused another drug called Cortisol to release from my adrenal glands. Cortisol, otherwise known as “the stress hormone” affected my immune system, cholesterol, brain function, weight gain, weight loss, severe anxiety attacks and ulcers. Cortisol has many repercussions; in my opinion, the scariest facts of Cortisol are it’s profound effects on the heart. Witnessing the results of Adrenaline in my life is imperative to my health.
Alcohol kills people without rooms like Alcoholics Anonymous, and stress kills people without the support of Al-anon. Drug counseling can help you get to where you need to be and tackle all the isms creating unmanageability.
In any 12-step program the foundation must be built. In A.A. and Al-anon part of building this foundation comes from the first step. The indispensable part of this first step is to understand the physical allergy that comes with being an Al-anon. The physical allergy is neglected since the speculated problem lay in the Alcoholic’s/Addict’s behavior. I recall innumerable times in which I used anger, fixing, controlling, managing and yelling to the extremes. The extremes of the adrenaline allergy appeared in my exertion of self-will on other people’s behavior. With Alcoholics/Addicts the Big Book articulates how Alcoholics/ Addicts try to control and manage their allergies by switching from “scotch to brandy”. In Al-anon we switch from “Scott to Randy”. Emotional, physical and spiritual sobriety has nothing to do with “the brand “and in Al-anon “the person”. The real transformation is required within oneself.
The difference in Alcoholics/Addicts, is an allergy to a chemical outside of themselves. Whereas the Al-anon may possess an allergy to the hormone released in their brain. The notion of an allergy spring difficulties with Al-anons, since we believe “if they recover… we recover”. Be that as it may, after a couple years of an Alcoholic’s/Addict’s recovery, the Al-anon may still suffer from the same trepidation of needing to fix, manage, and control. In working a thorough first step, we consider the problem may be a physical allergy as well. This consideration can spark a desperation to seek God, if we plateau in our Al-anon programs.
The allergy to Adrenaline in my behavior is demonstrated in my everyday life. When someone cuts me off in traffic I get mad, and then I hold onto it and brew the resentment. Then I speed, and cut other people off. In this illustration the allergy is seen in the behaviors following being cut off. I fed this Adrenaline by holding onto it, feeding more Adrenaline into speeding, and feeding more Adrenaline into cutting other people off. This process continues until I cease fighting and recognize the need for change.
Lack of power was my dilemma. The spiritual malady I suffered from was trying to get God to live my will instead of me trying to live God’s. I didn’t cause their alcoholism and despite great effort, I cannot cure them. The antidote was a spiritual experience found in the steps. Even when I feel the Alcoholic/Addict is getting better, I must have a spiritual experience from the 12 steps. The reason behind my problems, go deeper than the Alcoholic/Addict in my life. I do not want to suffer from a spiritual malady in the other areas of my life, nor the physical repercussion of re-engaging in stress and Adrenaline. In order for growth it is vital to gain a new perspective and distance oneself from hurtful relationships that we can neither control nor change. If I desire equanimity, than fully conceding the first step is imperative. Surrender is the first step and nirvana may be found midway through the 10th step.