I’ve been a member of Al-Anon, a 12-Step program for those affected by the aftershocks of alcohol, for 12 years.
I stopped attending meetings due to my hearing loss, but two weeks ago, went back.
It was the best decision I’ve made in a while.
Growing up in an alcoholic home is no picnic. You develop, as an adult, strangely, since you spend most of your youth just trying to survive, which is what I did.
The results of a childhood conducted through your parent’s drinking, are anything but gentle, distorting what you see and hear.
I’ve heard it described as life through a funhouse mirror, just minus the fun.
We tend to suffer heavily in the self-esteem department meaning, we haven’t much, since, no one, as kids, instilled it in us. It was more the opposite…you’re a big failure with little value to the world.
The alcoholic’s misery spills like the contents of their glass into your young consciousness taking hold, destroying much in it’s midst, the sad nature of the addicted beast.
Through the grace of the Al-Anon program, you can improve how you think of yourself, but the scars remain. Takes very little to incite a bad case of the…I hate myselfs, causing an emotional fever that can halt you in your tracks.
When you attend a meeting, you get to listen to others who have suffered as well. The great news is, you’re not alone, therefore, not the unique freak you always thought you were.
I learned to go easy on myself in Al-Anon…to not judge my wounds as if they were self-inflicted.
But alas, my recent lapse into unworthiness was due to many things pinching those wounds.
Had to let some old-time friendships go that were too painful to keep.
Had to accept that my hearing loss keeps people at bay, but it doesn’t make me less of who I am.
It hurts to be so blatantly rejected, not asked to the party, if you will, but it’s a grace to remember their discomfort is not because of you. You’re just the unfortunate recipient of their ignorance and absence of humility.
But the doors on a Sunday in a church basement, on the Upper Eastside of New York, where you’ll find 30 or so people, who don’t judge you by anything but your overall goodness, will welcome you no matter what.
Imagine an oasis with smiles and folding chairs.
A safe place where you can share your experience, strength and hope emerging at your full height knowing, this too shall pass.
I’m not standing at my full height as yet, but I’m getting there.