Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Lessons of Al Anon –Dealing with Consequences of One’s Actions

The Lessons of Al Anon –Dealing with Consequences of One’s Actions

I’ve been a grateful member of Al Anon since October 15, 1993. Desperation took me to my first meeting while I was living in Hong Kong. It is easy to remember the date because it is my mother’s birthday.

Al Anon is for friends and relatives of alcoholic and addicts who share their experience, strength and hope in learning how to live a life filled with peace, serenity and even happiness despite the chaos that often surrounds we humans.
My former husband’s disease of alcoholism led me to Al Anon. My desire to live a positive focused relatively serene life has kept me returning to meetings year after year.

While I haven’t lived with active alcoholism for several years, I’ve acquired the tools through the program to deal with the everyday ups and downs of life. Today those tools came in mighty handy.

I received a call about 9:30 this morning advising me that my 19-year-old niece had been arrested for drunk driving over the weekend. Apparently her BAC was more than twice the legal limit; she is underage. She struck a parked vehicle. I easily found her booking photo and information via Google. It is not her first unfortunate encounter with alcohol.  And in the last 18 months two of her friends have been killed and two others seriously injured in alcohol related motor vehicle accidents.  She needs a wake up call.

It is difficult to refrain from offering advice and I’m struggling to avoid trying to interject my opinions into the situation. I have concerns that my loved ones will wrongly try to save my niece from the consequences of her actions – thinking they are protecting her and saving her from the loss of license, a misdemeanor record, a weekend in jail, the inability to purchase insurance, or extended counseling and community service.  I’ve seen the results of protecting one from experiencing the consequences of one’s actions. It usually results in a repeat of the same mistake or multiple repeats of the same mistakes. It also robs a person of the opportunity to learn and grow. I don’t want to see her deprived of the opportunity to learn from her mistake and the chance to grow into the amazing woman that I know she can be. She is smart, beautiful, funny, talented, charming and creative. She has the potential to take the world by storm. And it is better to learn there are limits and consequences for actions and for failure to think now than at the age of 35 or 40 or later. 

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in Al Anon is that we owe our loved ones the dignity of making his or her decisions. I have my higher power and my niece has hers. I can’t save her; neither can her parents or grandparents. I just hope she is allowed to sink or swim on her own. I think she’ll learn to swim. 

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