This past weekend I traveled with my mom to an Al-Anon conference dedicated to people who have been affected by a friend or family member who has an addiction. The purpose is to heal and have a happy future. It was an eye-opener.
Do You Think You Haven’t Been Affected By Addiction
If you’re anything like me, you may believe that your family’s problems with addiction don’t affect you. In fact, you might think you are the exception to the rule, that you’re okay without help or some kind of intervention. Though others in my family struggle with the disease and my father died because of it, I do not have a problem with substance abuse myself. But I would be in deep denial, and ignorant as well, to think I’m totally okay. My first steps in recovery were to be aware and to accept the reality that I am not really okay inside. Yet.
I know that I have to recover from the trauma of a dad who perished from addiction. I also know that to live a healthy life and have healthy relationships, I have to both heal from the past and take precautionary measures for the future.
What The Conference Teaches
At this conference I learned a lot of important lessons about my self worth, hope and most importantly not to pretend it’s all right. Because ignoring the realities about the addiction dynamic can led to trouble down the road. I listened to countless, heartbreaking stories. Many people don’t talk to their children, or spouses because of the disease of alcoholism. I don’t want that to be me.
Children of Alcoholics Often Marry Alcoholics
It’s a sad fact that people tend to repeat family patterns when they don’t understand how people interact. They keep secrets and manipulate each other when they’re stuck in the addiction patterns. You think it is the only way to live, and you are attracted to people who can harm you. If you’re a child of an alcoholic, you’ve never known anything else. That means I could wake up in 20 years and find myself married to a raging alcoholic. Doesn’t that sound like every girl’s dream?
What Is An Al-Anon Conference
It wasn’t stuffy or stiff or scary. Al-Anon conferences are definitely more fun than they sound. This one was located at a beautiful resort where there were plenty of outdoor things to do when we weren’t in one-hour workshops. The workshops and lunches are kind of like serious playtime to help you work through how addiction in your family has changed your worldview and personality. It’s heartbreaking, but great to know you’re not alone.
My Takeaway From The Weekend
Yes, my life will always somewhat be affected by alcoholism and the hurt it left behind. But I won’t allow it to hurt my future, too. It can’t have that. I refuse. By listening to so many people’s stories filled with regret about not acting sooner, I can’t help but tell myself, “that won’t be you.”
We Have Choices
The truth is, we have no control over our future success or the illnesses we might have, but we do have the choice to control what we can, ourselves. We are young and that means we have a responsibility to ourselves not to wallow in self-pity. Instead, we can rise up, understand our screwed up pasts and trauma, heal and have the amazing lives that we dream of. I definitely heard this weekend it’s possible.
If you’re young like me, or you’re a mom with a spouse or child struggling with addiction, get help. Don’t be embarrassed or think you have escaped the repercussions. You deserve a future that makes you the person you were made to be. I’m glad I went.