The Family Afterward
As I approach the occasion of my 32nd AA birthday, I have chosen relationships with the family as the topic of this week’s meeting. A lot has changed for me since May 1984, when I left a drug and alcohol rehab shaky and scared, still experiencing withdrawals, but incredibly hopeful about starting a new life.
Because of my disease, I had lost custody of all 4 of my children; my 3 boys all went to be with their father one by one; and I was forced to choose adoption for my daughter.
Without drugs to numb the pain, I felt the debilitating losses for the first time, but I was reeling from detox and unable to face these tough issues for some time.
During my drinking/using years, I had traveled 50 miles to Simi Valley to visit the boys where they lived in that community with their Dad. I would take them, and we would stay at the Motel 6 overnight; they all were polite but did not enjoy that much. I was heartbroken I had given birth to them, yet we were many miles apart.
My new sobriety hardly affected them. They were all in college by that time: two of them far away and one was fairly close at Cal State Northridge. Eventually he started visiting me, and we built a relationship which we still have. After 32 years and life changes for me, we are loving, kind, and tolerant toward each other.
Another son started a relationship with me, but it ended due to other circumstances, and I haven’t seen him for eight years. A third son has two boys. I DO have a long-distance relationship with his teenage son, who is unaware of my alcohol and drug abuse. It is with great joy that I anticipate a visit from son and grandson in early 2017.
The BB of Alcoholics Anonymous in Chapter 9 (p. 122-135 4th ed.) reminds us: “living with an alcoholic would make anyone neurotic. The entire family is to some extent ill.” I must keep this in mind if I balk at the way family members behave, both early in my sobriety right up to the present.
Like the alcoholic, family members can, if they desire, remember the bad times and use them as lessons to change their own behavior or help other people.
The BB quoted Henry Ford, who once said experience is the thing of supreme value in life, explaining that is true only if one is willing to turn the past to good account.
“We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors and convert them into assets.” This has been true, not just for me, but for all of my family.
The chapter tells us, “We are not a glum lot; we absolutely insist on having fun,” and we are sure that God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free. For me and my adult children, we all make our own misery and a background in AA helps us to avoid such pitfalls but to use spiritual principles to restore peace of mind.
With a birthday in sight and a useful life with opportunities for me to help others in AA, a relationship with my dear brother, and a step-son as well, with a natal birthday in June when I will be 77, I AM GOOD.
Please share with us your experiences with family before and after sobriety and where you are today.