The meeting topic last night was alcoholism as a disease. The person who brought up the topic shared that it is both a physical craving and a mental obsession.
I know that accepting the disease description helps me to better understand the individual. I can accept and have compassion for a person who has this "cunning, baffling, and powerful" disease.
I have learned that no matter how hard I try, I will not be able to help the alcoholic. If I were to devote my life to "fixing" the alcoholic, I would only harm her and myself. I would harm through enabling and doing for someone what they have to do for themselves. Instead I have chosen to help myself through the Al-Anon program.
I don't need to go back to asking the question of why the person I love is an alcoholic. I have to accept that is the way it is and that my SO has a disease that can make her sick. I've also accepted that she isn't a bad person.
I have learned that having a compulsion to drink is a terrible thing. I've listened in open AA meetings about how hard it is to not pick up a drink. Have you ever had a compulsion to eat ice cream or pizza, even though you were on a diet? What did that compulsion feel like to you? How much did you struggle with it? What did you feel like when it bested you? What did it feel like when it didn't and you were able to withstand the compulsion? What does it feel like to know that you can never eat another piece of pizza or have any more ice cream...ever? If I think about those things, then I can better understand the territory of the struggling alcoholic and addict.
But I can't do anything about anyone's alcoholism because I don't know how. I don't have that compulsion that would kill me. My alcoholic can only get help with another recovering alcoholic and by practicing a program of honesty and willingness.
Because I need to work on my own issues from living with alcoholism, I focus on my own program. Getting through the affects of alcohol requires a lot from me. It requires detatchment, patience and humility. It requires being teachable and allowing room for great successes and great failures. It requires serenity, courage and wisdom. It requires honesty and the willingness to change.