Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another day in paradise

I am taking one of my sponsees to an open AA meeting today.  He is a new sponsee, and we are just getting to know each other.  He really didn't understand about going to an open AA meeting and what that was about. 

It wasn't until coming to Al-Anon and going to open AA meetings that I learned the difference between hating the disease and not the alcoholic. Both programs taught me about having respect for others. I learned that everyone has the right to be their own person – no matter what their problems are or how they decide to manage their lives.

I think that the Al-Anon pamphlet "3 Views of Alcoholism" really provides insight into what the alcoholic goes through.  Here is what it says:

"I am an alcoholic. I need your help.
Don't lecture, blame or scold me. You wouldn't be angry at me for having TB or diabetes. Alcoholism is a disease, too.
Don't pour out my liquor; it's just a waste because I can always find ways of getting more.
Don't let me provoke your anger. If you attack me verbally or physically, you will only confirm my bad opinion of myself. I hate myself enough already.
Don't let your love and anxiety for me lead you into doing what I ought to do for myself. If you assume my responsibilities, you make my failure to assume them permanent. My sense of guilt will be increased, and you will feel resentful.
Don't accept my promises. I'll promise anything to get off the hook. But the nature of my illness prevents me from keeping my promises, even though I mean them every time.
Don't make empty threats. Once you have made a decision, stick to it.
Don't believe everything I tell you; it may be a lie. Denial of reality is a symptom of my illness. Moreover, I'm likely to lose respect for those I can fool too easily.
Don't let me take advantage of you or exploit you in any way. Love cannot exist for long without dimension of justice.
Don't cover up for me or try in anyway to spare me the consequences of my drinking. Don't lie for me, pay my bills or meet my obligations. It may avert or reduce the very crisis that would prompt me to seek help. I can continue to deny that I have a drinking problem as long as you provide an automatic escape for the consequences of my drinking.
Above all, do learn all you can about alcoholism and your role in relation to me. Go to open AA meetings when you can. Attend Al-Anon meetings regularly, read literature and keep in touch with Al-Anon members. They're the people who can help you see the whole situation clearly.
I love you,
Your alcoholic"

Some where out there in this place that looks like paradise to me are miserable people who are affected by alcoholism.  It isn't a pretty day with lots of sunshine for them.  I know what I used to feel like and how I simply struggled to put on the best face possible, go to work, deal with what awaited me at home and then start the whole thing over again the next day.  Sure, there were moments when I felt good, but always there was the nagging anxiety. 

Today I am reasonably sane and happy.  I have much to be grateful for.  I am glad to be passing the message on to others and to let them know that misery is optional.  What an opportunity to appreciate the one life that we are given and not waste it away with worry and sadness.  I am so glad that alcoholism did not defeat me, but rather awakened something in me to get me to finally see just how precious each day really is. 


  1. Fortunately, there is a solution.

  2. Thanks,Syd, for pointing our the Pamphlet, "Three Views of Al-Anon" (from the alcoholic) - #P-15 - - - I keep this in my purse. It is my personal favorite, even though, I still cry when I read the letter you quoted - - - that was when I realized that compassion was a better avenue than criticism!

    Anonymous #1

  3. smiles...and arent we glad it did as well...and so cool that you keep giving back helping others...

  4. I am just starting to sponsor an alcoholic in my AA program. It's wonderful to have Al-Anon in the background as I know how to love but not take care of someone else's program. I learn so much for my own recovery by helping others.

  5. I always enjoy the view from your boat, Syd, and I mean that in more ways than one. Thanks for being here. --G

  6. Thanks for this post. I have been thinking about returning to Al-Anon, and that letter from the alcoholic plus what you said, makes me think it is a really good idea.

  7. It was good to read parts of the pamphlet that mentions "don't believe everything I tell you; it may be a lie". I have been to a few open AA meetings over the years. It will be interesting to hear how your sponsee is when he leaves the open meeting.

  8. Love the comment "misery is optional". A new way for today is learning I have choices even in the most dire situations. I can still enjoy the day even if my qualifier is angry I am not responsible for his behavior.
    New Freedom

  9. Pouring out someone's medicine is a really stupid idea even when that medicine is as noxious as alcohol. I once threw all my methadone down the toilet because I was fed up of being hooked on it. My main drug then was heroin and I had none with me so I did the cold turkey and nearly lost my mind!

    Syd what do you mean heroin could be my "higher power"!!!!

    My actual higher power inner high is FAR stronger than heroin ever could be and about 1000 times higher. Heroin is a very weak feeling high. Nice, but terribly weak. The only thing strong about heroin is its addictive property. It never ever feels "strong" even when I'd ODd myself it STILL feels weak. It's a truly pathetic drug and I only took it from sheer desperation. I don't know how I'm going to cope without it if I feel as bad as I did today. By no means the worst ever but when I felt bad before I just used and I'm not used to feeling that bad and not using. Just not used to it.

  10. Thanks, Perfect timing, all of the things I needed this week in a couple of lines--


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