Over the years I’ve shared that I learned valuable lessons regarding reinvention and self-healing in Al-Anon. While I’ve shared my story with various Al-Anon family groups I hesitated to tell part of the tale publicly because of how it would affect others - particularly my mother who was an adult child & niece of alcoholics.
Most of us learn coping mechanisms in childhood that we don’t associate with anything in particular. We accept our loved ones for who they are - even when they cause us pain. I had often wondered why my siblings and I had initially chosen damaged partners. My first husband was an alcoholic. My interim relationship was with an alcoholic that I thought I could change. Fortunately, through recovery programs, some therapy, and personal spiritual development I was able to break the bonds of insanity and embrace a healthy life and marriage based upon mutual respect, love and humor. It was in Al Anon that I realized some of my behaviors were inherited.
It took some years before I completely understood that I had married an addict and was spiraling into total dysfunction, despair, and the inability to trust my own judgment. Addicts are adept at disguising, lying, misrepresentation, and manipulation. At the time I discovered the extent of the deception I was living in a foreign country, had no access to my passport or money, had not been employed for five years, and was completely dependent on my alcoholic spouse. This was not the life I would have chosen for myself. However, I was seduced by the opportunity to experience life in Asia as an American expatriate subsidized by a corporation seeking to expand in a vibrant world market.
The house of cards came crashing down like an avalanche. My then husband, a former international salesman of the year for a multinational company, was terminated. He didn’t tell me he was no longer employed; however, I knew something was wrong. I felt adrift. He pretended to continue to go to the office in Hong Kong. It was only by happenstance that I discovered, through the intelligence gathering of a Canadian friend, what had happened.
My then husband continued to lie to me. I became so enraged that I frightened myself. All of a sudden I knew that I had the potential for violence within me. I sought help. I found an Al Anon meeting at a church on the island. When I was asked what brought me to Al Anon, I confessed that I was afraid I could have strangled my spouse. The only thing preventing me was fear of incarceration in a foreign prison. They others laughed and said that was normal. I was in the right place. I would find help, healing, peace and serenity. It was a long and winding road that took years; but eventually I found recovery.
When I finally started to emerged from my cocoon, I found myself transformed, completely changed. My very being transitioned from negative to positive, from fear to fearless, from dependence to independence, from false bravado to self confidence, from neediness to contentment, from insecurity to empowerment, from judgment to acceptance, and from denial to reality.
The journey has been a rollercoaster. But I am filled with gratitude for every experience that taught me the lessons that have brought me to where I am today. Were it not for the extreme challenges that cause pain, heartache, and discontent, I would not be able to fully appreciate how far I’ve come and how blessed I am today with a wonderful eccentric husband, I job that gives me fulfillment and flexibility, a home with acreage and peacefulness, some true blue supportive and loving friends, and our posse of abandoned cats. Oh, and really tasty red wine. Wine, cheese, olives, garlic…….
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