I've heard it said over and over at meetings that Al-Anon and AA are selfish programs. At first, I wasn't sure that I understood what this meant. Especially since I spent so much time worrying about the alcoholic and little about myself. Finally, it has begun to dawn on me that a selfish program means that I can't let anything get in the way of my recovery. I have to think about myself first and foremost.
What I have literally done is divest myself of those things that cause me a lot of stress. I attend meetings, I do activities and hobbies that I enjoy and if I don't want to do something, then I don't. For many years, I just went along with things, going to parties when I was bored or anxious, or trying to fill my time with work or other duties. I don't do that anymore.
There are repercussions from this. First, I don't share a lot of interests with my alcoholic. My SO does AA meetings every day and sometimes twice a day. We have different hobbies which is okay too. We have always worked together so sometimes a break to do things separately is needed. Unfortunately, over the years of living with an alcoholic I've lost a lot of the "in love" feelings that I used to have and there has been loss of respect as well. It is difficult to have warm and fuzzy thoughts about someone who is depressed, verbally abusive and grumpy.
I've also had changes in friendships since I started recovery. I used to hang out with one buddy quite a bit. I believe though since sharing my being in recovery, the friendship has changed. I no longer really have the time to spend as I once did with my friend. Probably there is resentment about this because of the time spent at meetings and with other people in the program. I understand the resentment but can't fathom the judgemental attitude. I guess that most people don't want to get too close to someone who is dealing with an unpopular subject such as alcoholism. It's much easier to keep the friendship on a superficial level rather than to delve deep into personal territory. So I've chosen to just keep on the path that I'm on. I keep some distance from people not in the program and find that sharing with them and being totally honest about my situatioin isn't a good idea. This is largely because unless you've lived with an alcoholic or been one, you can't understand what is involved in recovery or the pain that alcoholism brings. So I guess the program is a selfish one but it's the reality of successful recovery.