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.  


  1. your words really help me. keep writing.

  2. Love love love this! I discovered your blog on Friday and have been reading it throughout the weekend. You are so encouraging, and this was just what I needed to remind me that I'm not losing my mind (although I may act in crazy ways). My heart aches for your situation, but I thank you for your honesty. I keep visualizing that little bird "Hope" and smiling.
    Referring to your old ISMs post, do you have more details about that "Addictive Thinking" book? I would really like to read it. Thanks.

  3. I just now found your blog while i was in a desperate search for help. My "functional alcoholic" husband and i have been married for 8 years this September cominv up and have 2boys. Im 29 yrs old and hes 9yrs older than me.Be has always had a drinking problem,even before we met,but within the last 3 to 4 yrs (since our first son was born)he seems to have been spending much more time drinking than with us,his family;including the 3days of hangover. Im so glad to have your blog to read and relate to.It was a breath of fresh air! Im not sure who needs mors help,me or him!..? I wish i could express how frustrated i am and fed up with this whole situation.I love him too much to leave him to "fend for himself" with thos illness,but i do hate the fact that our little boys are growing up fast and beginning to notice Poppa's mood swings and buzzed eyelids..i dont know what's best..grow up with a father who drinks excessively and lies aviut stopping,or grow up with a father who onr only sees when hes at his best.?..

  4. My worst ones:
    Don't wallow in self-pity
    Don't be a doormat

    And today I am especially struggling with the self-pity. It is hard not to be affected when he's being passive aggressive and nasty. But I try to remind myself that I am not to blame, nor am I a horrible or unlovable person just because he's treating me like an enemy due to his own issues.

  5. I fall for the don't argue with an alcoholic, all the time. I get sucked into his nasty comments and I let it get to me. I am getting better at walking away though. What does everyone else do to keep themselves busy when the husband is drunk and mean?

    1. It's understandable...we're human beings with emotions, and we love our alcoholic partners. I have a couple posts I'm working on about this that should be up very soon, but in the meantime, just try to focus on anything related to self-care - whether it's reading a book you like, working on a craft, going for a walk, or calling a friend.

  6. I am on this blog for the first time and I share so many of your posts. Yes, holidays...always a special time for the alcoholics to ruin yet another precious memorable event. We have been married almost 20 years, we have no children together and my kids are now out of the house. Time has not been my friend...I always thought things would get better...I know better now. I guess my comment/question would I need to go ahead and accept that our marriage is over? He wont admit to having a problem...he continues to do things to sabatoge our marriage...I feel in hopes that I will use that as an excuse for leaving and omitting the alcohol as the cause.

    1. First, thank you for sharing your story...I think for each of us, no one can know what is best for us except us. I do know that in my experience and from that of those I know, it is challenging to be married to a partner who is in the throes of active addiction. The disease is selfish by nature and the main focus and concern of the addict is their drug of choice. For my situation, that explains so much of our other "issues." Al Anon, my program friends and my sponsor have definitely helped me get through what's come my way, and I do think that it has helped me realize what I do and do not want in relationships in general.