Last night I read some in the book Lois Remembers which tells the story of Lois W., co-founder of Al-Anon. In this book she chronicles her life before and after getting married to Bill W. co-founder of AA. I am only part way through the book but can only wonder at the stamina of this woman and all that she sacrificed in her life. One of the more telling passages for me was her statement on pg. 78, "The problem is not about my life, of course, for probably the suffering is doing me good, but about his--the frightful harm this resolving and breaking down, resolving and breaking down again, must be doing to him......."
"I'm afraid I have always been and still am too foolishly idealistic and sentimental. I had hoped Bill's love for me would cause him to stop drinking. For I know that he loves me --but perhaps that is not enough. "
When I read this, I can only think what the anxiety level must have been in this woman. If ever there was a person who needed to practice Step One, she was it. However, without her terrible sacrifice of herself there wouldn't be an Al-Anon and perhaps things would have turned out much differently for Bill W as well. Reading this book points out over and over that the people who love alcoholics have to take care of themselves. Yet, when you love someone as deeply as Lois W. did , it seems almost that detachment could only occur through physically tearing yourself away from the other person. Lois tried that but Bill W. would return to his bottle after she returned. It was only through his spiritual awakening that he was able to quit the bottle, yet he continued in other behaviors and character defects that seem equally as difficult to accept. It seems that Lois W. was determined to sacrifice herself at any cost.
I think that perhaps her attitude reflected that of the times. She stuck by her man regardless or perhaps she was obsessed with Bill. Maybe that will be revealed as I read further in the book. In these more modern times and through programs like Al-Anon and AA, we are able to learn how not to wear ourselves down to the point that we give up everything for another. We learn to take care of ourselves. Her writing practically screams at me that detachment and self-focus have got to take precedent when dealing with the alcoholic.