I didn’t take it seriously at first. I was too busy for Al-Anon, and I wasn’t the one with the problem anyway. Needless to say, I was totally wrong! It’s been 5 years since the first day I walked into an Al-Anon meeting, and 5 years since my husband walked into AA.
I have learned so much and continue to learn by attending meetings and working with my sponsor. In my years in the program, I never learned how to support a recovering alcoholic spouse. What I did learn was how to detach with love. Huh? I know! But it is possible. I never got the bullet-pointed list I wanted, but I got something much more valuable than that.
I learned I didn’t cause the disease of alcoholism, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it. It was in these meetings that I discovered who I am, how to let go of things that are out of my control, and how to believe in a power greater than myself. I felt free!
We get a lot of newcomers in my Al-Anon home group. Many are looking for the same ‘how to support a recovering alcoholic spouse’ list. After I break the news that there is no such list, I tell them that they need to keep coming back to meetings and read the literature. I usually get a disappointed-no-list-face, but I always tell them it will get better.
The best way I know how to support a recovering alcoholic spouse is by putting yourself first.
And that’s hard for those of us who love alcoholics. We’re caring, loving, and helpful people! The problem is when we are immersed in our loved one’s drinking or recovery, most of us tend to be controlling, and we often lose ourselves. Your job in supporting a recovering spouse is to stay to your own business and your own life, whether the alcoholic seeks treatment or not. The recovering alcoholic has his/her own agenda in order to stay sober.
There are many other ways to support a recovering alcoholic spouse, but it all starts with you and your recovery. Keep coming back to Al-Anon meetings, and don’t leave before the miracles happen. Because they do!