Monday, June 17, 2013

Do's and Don'ts - Part 2

Found meetings in my new town; it's not the same.  It's in an AA club for one thing, so it's not the cushy, quiet, serene place that I am used to working my program.  Phew, was I spoiled.  The place even had landscaping - landscaping!  Maybe I could start a franchise of my old meeting.  "Carpet, soft lighting and comfy chairs for all!"  But I dream.

Fortunately, though the scenery may be vastly different, the core of the program is the same.  And in fact, their posted list of the Do's and Don'ts reminded me of some that I have heard in other meetings outside my "home meeting."  Hung in between the 12 Steps and the 12 Traditions, they're displayed (amongst the same ones that I posted in part 1) on a big, laminated list:

Don't expect immediate, contented sobriety
Don't be discouraged by the mistakes you make
Don't use the "if you loved me" appeal
Don't argue with a drunk alcoholic
Don't hide liquor or pour it out

Do remember that you can't control, cause or cure alcoholism
Do find a group where you feel comfortable
Do be honest with yourself
Do get a sponsor 

Already I have been reminded of several of these - how many times in the past few weeks have I forgotten that I didn't cause my husband to go out and buy alcohol in secret, how many times have I thought about throwing away even empty liquor bottles that we kept (pre-epiphany) for "decoration"; how many times have I thought "Doesn't he love me?  Doesn't he see what this is doing to us?"  

So I stop trying to check up on him, which in our case is snooping and looking for bottles or smelling his breath, or trying to gauge "where he's at" emotionally or mentally.  I have found a group - not one I'm particularly comfortable with - but one that I'm grateful to have as, well, it's really the only place in town.  And so I remain grateful that even despite the hundreds of miles, Al Anon has followed me here to my new town and I am able to keep working my program in a noisy, not-that-clean-place that I'm pretty sure has some kind of health code violation going on.  But yes I'll say it again - I'm grateful.  
I'm grateful okay! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Do's and Don'ts

Here are the Do's and Don'ts of my home meeting (which I dearly miss since our move):


  • Do forgive
  • Do be humble
  • Do take it easy — tension is harmful
  • Do play — find recreation and hobbies
  • Do keep on trying whenever you fail
  • Do learn the facts about alcoholism
  • Do attend Al-Anon meetings often
  • Do pray


  • Don't be self-righteous
  • Don't try to dominate, nag, scold and complain
  • Don't lose your temper
  • Don't try to push anyone but yourself
  • Don't keep bringing up the past
  • Don't keep checking up on the alcoholic
  • Don't wallow in self-pity
  • Don't make threats you don't intend to carry out
  • Don't be over-protective
  • Don't be a doormat

Ah, the Do's and Don'ts.  Hello old friend.  Truly, I have done almost every Don't and don't do the Do's enough as I should.  My sponsor recently gave me a copy of the list to keep on me as a reminder.  I'd tattoo it on the inside of my eyelids if I could.  

The Do's and Don'ts are one of my favorite parts of the program, and were a huge help to me as a newcomer - most of us find ourselves in Al Anon as a last resort (pretty sure it wasn't in any of our childhood fantasies - my Barbie certainly wasn't in meetings for Ken or that little brat Skipper).  Usually we've tried other avenues, exhausted our friends, family and other resources and are left feeling lost, helpless, confused and hurting.  

Even after the relief of finding the program I still didn't know what quite to do or not to do - after all, I knew well enough to understand that there was nothing I could do to control or cure my husband's drinking problem.  But I also didn't want to contribute to it or make my life more difficult than it already was.  In this way, the Do's and Don'ts became the guardrail for my everyday interactions with my husband, and a way for me to like myself in any situation despite disliking the situation itself.  

I struggle with some of these still, especially "Don't be a doormat" (remember Valentine's Day?).  But I remind myself that Al Anon is a gentle program, and that though I am a year into my recovery it is perfectly acceptable that I often have to check my footing.  "Progress not perfection," we're told.  

There are variations of the Do's and Don'ts, and at one meeting I hear "Don't argue with a drunk alcoholic."  My own experience teaches me "Don't argue with an alcoholic" - as in period.  It gets you nowhere, exhausts you of precious energy and in the end is of no utility or positive effect.  

When you are living with or married to an alcoholic these can be an absolute life-saver if practiced faithfully (and advanced Al Anons can see that these are also most helpful in situations with everyone else!).  Each of these in their own right could be a post topic, and I hope to include these as a series in and amongst other subjects.  So stay tuned!  Soon you'll find out just how self-righteous, self-pitying, past-bringing-upping I can be.  Oh, the excitement!  I can barely contain myself.