I know what made me do it. The church down the road had a nursery. Community, I needed to create a community for myself and my little boys.
The tiny country church we attended before our sons were born tried to help with nursery care but I needed more. When my husband left for three months for a job, I just could not face managing two baby boys at church alone. I did not realize how lonely my life with my addicted loved one had become.
Living with an addiction is isolating.
Almost without exception, alcoholics (addicts) are tortured by loneliness. Even before our drinking got bad people began to cut us off, nearly all of us suffered the feeling we did not belong. Either we were shy and dared not draw near others, or we were apt to be noisy good fellows craving attention and companionship, but never getting it- at least to our way of thinking. AA 12 by 12 page 57.
Living with an addicted loved one often engenders the same isolation. An example from the “To Wives Chapter” in the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book:
We seldom had friends at our homes, never knowing how or when the men of the house would appear. We could make few social engagements. We came to live almost alone. When we were invited out, our husbands sneaked so many drinks that they spoiled the occasion. p. 105
Create Community, Don’t Isolate
The birth of our two sons brought me enormous joy and responsibility. Adding a brand new house on 20 acres with horses, dogs, and chickens made for a busy day. Busy but lonely. After the three month stint away from home my husband started working for a bar and keeping very late hours.
My days were consumed with the boys, the house and very little adult conversation. Getting to church and an Al-Anon meeting once a week took an enormous effort but I was determined. I came mainly to hear the Al-Anon Welcome read aloud each week.
We urge you to try our program. It has helped many of us find solutions that lead to serenity. So much depends on our own attitudes, and as we learn to place our problem in its true perspective, we find it loses its power to dominate our thoughts and our lives.
Without such spiritual help, living with an alcoholic is too much for most of us. Our thinking becomes distorted by trying to force solutions, and we become irritable and unreasonable without knowing it– (suggested Al-anon Welcome)
Holding on to my sanity during this time in my life drained me daily. Many things isolated me, location, young children, depression, and codependency. Add to that my guilt and shame about marrying an addict and my frustration with the present unmanageability of my life. If my husband would just quit using all would be OK, so I thought.
There, printed on the page, in a little leaflet that hundreds of thousands of people read every week were the words that living with an addicted loved one is too much for most of us.
I may be failing at living with my addicted loved one but I was not alone. Having this in print in a mass-produced flyer meant that others struggled with the isolation, loneliness, and self-recrimination I faced in the mirror every morning.
For an hour and a half each week I spent time with people who understood me. I told my story, they told their stories; we struggled together to maintain our serenity. I could not fix their lives and they could not fix mine but together we could share experience, strength and hope. We could laugh at our lives and situations from an inside perspective.
Weekly, my Al-Anon buddies helped me step back from the edge of the cliff, survey my distorted thinking and realize I did not cause this, I can’t cure it or control it.
I could choose my attitude, choose how I spent my time and how I related to my family.
Living with an Addicted Loved One is Too Much For Most of Us
I did then and I do now attend a church that Celebrates Recovery. Both of these churches are focused on accepting people where they are in life’s journey. Realife for your real life.
When I switched our family to that new church down the road almost 10 years ago I bought the whole devastating desperate mess of our lives with me inside the doors of the church. Too exhausted to put on a mask I sat in my seat and wept through the worship service week after week.
The pastor and a few friends came alongside me. They assured me I was in the right place. This church loved on me and my family right from the start. We brought our messy lives and they brought the love of God.
John 13: 34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this, all people will know that you are My disciples if you have a love for one another.”
One Step You Could Do Today to Create Community
Call your Mom
Call a friend
Go to an exercise class
Join a playgroup if your children are small
Ask a friend to go with you to Al-Anon
Go to church on Sunday
Volunteer at school just for a few hours
Go to library hour for little tikes
Hang out at the preschool a few minutes longer and talk with other parents
Offer to help in the nursery and meet other parents
Join a Bible study or book club. ( In both cases my young children were welcome to come.)
If you just can’t bring yourself to walk through the door of an organization, find an online group:
One small action can lead to other ways to create community. Even just going outside.