Thursday, January 31, 2013

How I Found Al Anon

How I Found Al Anon

Al Anon is a fellowship of friends and relative of alcoholics seeking to find peace and serenity in a swirling vortex of pain, insanity, fear, lack of hope, desperation and anger.

It never occurred to me that Al Anon could help me. I’d actually never thought of it at all until I was in the depths of despair October 15th 1993. I knew AA was a place where alcoholics could go to try to find sobriety. But I had no knowledge of Al Anon.

At the time I was living what some might believe was the life of Riley as an expatriate wife in a large flat in the Mid-Levels of Hong Kong.  I played Bridge and Mah Jong.  I served on the Board of the American Women’s Association and on committees at the American Club. I shopped, explored, had lunch with friends and lounged by the pool at the American Club when the weather was amenable.

But I had an embarrassing secret. My husband was an alcoholic. Some thought he was also a drug addict. I was, of course, the last to realize the extent of the problem. I thought I had it all together. I didn’t realize I’d reached a level if insanity that was causing me to lose myself. I was in denial. I didn’t want to believe that my hopes and dreams had crashed. Additionally, I was living in a foreign country, hadn’t worked in more than 5 years, had no source of income, and no home in the USA.

The tipping point came on the humid October afternoon. I’d gotten a feeling something wasn’t right. For the two weeks prior to this day, I’d been unable to reach my spouse at his office. I was always told he wasn’t there. This was before the pervasiveness of cell phones. I called a friend who came over and used subterfuge to find out the real story. She called the office using a ruse and found out that my husband had been fired two weeks previously for cause. He’d been pretending to go to work and hanging out in bars during the day.  Anger seethed through every cell in my body. When my spouse came home thoroughly drunk, I screamed and pushed him. He fell. The capacity for rage within me frightened me. (not to mention the fear of spending the rest of my life in a foreign prison).

The friend who’d helped me solve the mystery recommended Al Anon. I found a meeting that day a 20 -minute walk from my flat. The meeting was in English. I saw people I knew. When I explained why I was there, the group welcomed me and helped me to feel and know I wasn’t alone. It was the first step on a very long road to recovery.

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