125: Al-Anon – Everything You Wanted to Know (Sort Of)

We welcome Idalia, the public outreach coordinator for Al-Anon in the Maryland and DC area, to help us explore the world of Al-Anon. We talk about what Al-Anon is, who might find it useful, what types of struggles Al-Anon helps people address, what you might find when you go to an Al-Anon meeting, and who might not find benefit from Al-Anon. Idalia shares parts of her story, what Al-Anon has helped her with, and some of the specifics of how the Al-Anon program works. And check out How Al-Anon Works on Audible. When you use our link to sign up for a free 30-day trial, we earn a small commission! Listen in to learn more about Al-Anon, if it might be beneficial for you, and where to start. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

Al-Anon Newcomers Packet

Maryland and DC Al-Anon

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason a guy who has been to al-anon once or twice and i’m here with i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery and today we are wonderfully joined by the public outreach coordinator for al-anon in the maryland and district of columbia area and that is adalia hi adalia hi guys i’m really excited to be here today oh we’re we’re excited to have you we want to learn so much about al-anon and and hopefully spread the message of what al-anon is and does and and how it can help people that are in the recovery community um and just a quick version of my introduction to al anon i had i want to say nine or ten years clean at the time and i had started going to therapy for some other things and my therapist said hey you know you might benefit from this al-anon program and i was like i don’t have alcoholics in my family like that’s not really a thing i don’t and i but i went you know i was open to suggestions and uh oh my god was she right there is so much good information in al-anon and and i learned that like i don’t want to say people who don’t have alcoholics in their family might want to go but there was just so much information about how to deal with other people in society that i was not good at dealing with um so i found it to be pretty incredible for my own limited experience and exposure to it but a dahlia i’d i’d love for you to take over and just tell us kind of some of your story about how you found al-anon and what you’ve gotten out of it oh jason boy you know i celebrated 35 years on february 4th uh this week wow congratulations program since 1987 and i’m one of these people that you know i didn’t graduate and have never graduated you know you graduate and you’re gone and moved on um i never thought that i would graduate from this program and i really really i when i talk about how i got into these rooms i literally tripped into the rooms of al-anon because i was in so much pain i was angry i was bitter and i was suicidal you know when i got into these rooms but i didn’t know why i was having all these feelings and and and i got here because i actually went to meet a girlfriend of a friend of mine he wanted me to meet her and we went out and had dinner i was living in new york city at the time and um we were sitting there talking and i mentioned a couple of things to her and she said to me well there’s this particular book um and i would like to buy it for you after we have dinner so we went around the corner after dinner and to the bookstore the coliseum on 57th and 7th avenue new york city walked in she went to the back got the book handed it to me and said read this and you’re going to um something’s going to happen something new is going to happen for you you’re going to realize um that there’s more to the life that you’re living and i don’t know if i can mention the book but we normally don’t mention it in the rooms um the book is women who love too much and i know i was a number one bestseller for a long time years and years ago as i said 35 years ago and um when i i finished reading that book that same night and at the last page has said call the allen on family groups if you think you’ve been affected by the disease of alcoholism because the book talked a lot about codependency and all of that um and i called the number the next day and i went to a meeting near where i worked i worked on madison and 57th avenue so i went to a meeting at the u.n on first avenue and um it didn’t really call to me because there was a lot of angry people there could you imagine i was angry and bitter and i thought there was a lot of angry people there so

so i left that meeting and on the way home i sort of was like very disappointed but a little voice inside me said call the number again so i called the number again and there was a meeting near where i lived and i lived i was living at that time in weehawken new jersey was just a little pack that i used to take the path train into a hoboken and then get to my apartment in weehawken new jersey and um there it was you know the following wednesday i went to that meeting and that was my home group for uh seven seven years before i moved to maryland and i’m so so grateful because when i got there there was these women in the meeting there were no men and i don’t know if that happened to you jason but there were no men

but there was all these elderly women there and i i was what 36 years old and um i was like okay i’m gonna give this a chance but they opened up their arms to me and they said come in honey we’re gonna love you until you learn how to love yourself and man that was exactly what i needed to hear i needed to hear those words because i was not loving myself so that was my first first experience in the rooms and i have been in the rooms since they since then one meeting at a time one day at a time you know one service position at a time it’s just been such and such a blessing it really has um but i want to share with you because you mentioned you know you didn’t know what al anon uh was your friend sent you there right jensen it says al-anon is the only worldwide organization that offers a self-help recovery program for families and friends of alcoholics whether or not the alcoholic seeks help or even recognizes the existence of a drinking problem and today we’ve we’ve added other things to that drinking problem situation because i know a lot of families suffer with addicts you know and living with with addiction in their homes and you know addiction is addiction um and then it says members give and receive comfort and understanding through a mutual exchange of experience strength and hope sharing of similar problems binds individuals and groups together in a bond that is protected by a policy of anonymity and i mean oh you know that’s like poetry right yeah you want to go into a place and and when you’re hurting and and and you feel like you you need something it’s like a a sav it’s like putting this smooth aloe on your you know your heart and your emotions and um and just feelings for the first time in such a long time feeling better and that that’s what happened to me when i got when i first got into the rooms i just felt felt better and i landed in the arms of those women that just loved me until i learned how to love myself one day at a time that is beautiful i i don’t know that uh any piece of literature could have said it as well as the combination of the literature and you sharing your experience along with it i just you put it so eloquently and i i really love that i’m curious and i i was gonna i think ask this later but you kind of already made a mention so i’ll ask it now have you seen a shift in al-anon since you’ve been there with maybe so like if you talk about a 12-step fellowship like alcoholics anonymous i know for a long time there was a hard-line stance of like we don’t talk about drugs here it’s not what our purpose is and you know i i think the aaa community has shifted a little to not be so hardcore about that but i i don’t know that the program itself necessarily has but you kind of mentioned that that alanon sort of maybe has embraced these other you know modes of substances that family members might be using is that is that like an official stance or is that just the community that has welcomed in parents of people who use things other than alcohol well jason i am a past delegate i didn’t tell you that and what that means that i was representing all of um maryland and district of columb colombia at the worldwide conference of balinon so i did that for three years and these discussions are being had at that level we are continually talking about that because what we have found out throughout the years and especially i would say within the last 10 years more so a little bit of time it seems to be getting to that place and because of all this opioids and all these things that have been sort of spread into the communities that we all live in right um we have gotten to a place where it’s about embracing that person that comes into the rooms that is being affected by somebody else’s addiction by somebody else that is going through and has is experiencing something because the effects of whether it’s an alcoholic or an addict the effects on the family are still the same you know we we make them gods in our lives we get obsessed with them we try to control whatever it is that they’re doing you know all of these things happen in alcoholic homes and they also happen in in in addiction homes so what we’ve done is we continue having those discussions we are not and the discussions continue to be more open and mo more open to the fact that we have to embrace these situations in the rooms of al-anon that we would never ever throw anyone away and out of the rooms of alinon because they’re dealing with an addiction versus an alcoholic situation our purpose is to if there’s a friend or a relative of someone who is going through these type of experiences of addiction that we are here we’re open and receptive and you know the once you get into the rooms of alano again it’s keeping the focus on ourselves right and what we do and what we bring and how we participate and how we contribute to these type of addictions in our home because a lot of times all of us don’t don’t even understand how we’re contributing to this situation you know we call it the the the four c’s you know we didn’t cause it we can’t cure it we can’t control it but we do contribute to it and and the way that we act our behaviors and our attitudes you know if somebody’s in the home and we’re trying to we’re yelling and screaming at the addict or the alcoholic these are our behaviors and we have to take responsibility for them so coming into the rooms of al-anon i know for me taught me to um once i started to focus on myself and knew i started to understand what powerlessness was all about you know that i couldn’t change these people in my life i am the daughter of an alcoholic i am the younger sister of an alcoholic who has passed away i am the um older sister of an alcoholic and a drug addict who has passed away from this disease okay i am the aunt of a niece who took her life through this um addictions you know so it doesn’t i could tell you that it’s all for me been a part of the same thing and so my voice at these conferences that i attended and continue to be a part of the voice of al-anon is to help them in those rooms understand how important it is for us to be inclusive instead of exclusives you know and i continue to speak on that and that is so very beautifully open-minded if for no other reason uh one of the challenges i’ve seen and this is a little outside the scope of al-anon but like the 12-step community you know has this great debate going on about medicated assisted treatment and if people are clean and this that and the other and what i’ve seen some people say is well there’s there’s a 12-step program for people who are on these maintenance programs which is great unless that’s not located in your area and from my experience you know we there is a companion program to narcotics anonymous called naranon which you would say oh well let’s just push the people there but it’s nowhere near as widely available as an al-anon meeting is and so it’s like you know why i guess yeah if we want to get technical and fundamentals sure they belong in narang but like you said why can’t we just help people that are hurting like and that seems like what i hear in in your message and i just i think that’s what we all kind of need more of is more of this please come in and be a part of this and heal instead of like this is where you belong and that’s where you need to go and

right and and and i know it’s an education thing you know for for all of us um i’ve i’ve attended aaa meetings for many years so that i could learn about it i um found myself um actually when i sponsor women in al anon i use the big book and i use i mean it’s not conference approved for alano i can’t read from it or use it in in the allen on rooms and i respect that because i love al-anon and i want to keep it as pure as possible right for those that really need it but at the same time i have educated myself because you know for me one of the things that i find out i have found out throughout the years is that and i and when i sponsor women i tell them you have to really educate yourself in what it is that you’re dealing with because if you don’t educate yourself then what happens is we fill ourselves our minds up you know it’s our thinking right that makes it so so um we fill our our minds up with all these these things of what could be the [ __ ] of word of things that what it you know could be so if you educate yourself you’ll be able to be more open and receptive to what it is that you could bring to the party at any given at a given point um i have never been to an uh naran meeting um i’ve only heard you know stories about it um and yes there’s not a whole lot in terms of how the those meanings are sort of organized and i think a lot of it happens because wait in al-anon we just keep things strict to allen on literature and the al-anon program and we don’t allow outside you know readings or anything like that to come into the program so i think the disadvantages for neuron is that there’s not that same type of organizational value to those type of meetings you know um but you know again you know i’ve also heard that you know people’s sort of benefit from going to narang meetings i don’t want to downgrade them because i know there’s some moms that go to narang meetings and they attend alan on meetings too so having the information and getting all the facts and doing the research i think really helps people a lot to understand how all of these things affect you know the individual absolutely so if you go to an al-anon meeting if i go to an al-anon meeting uh you know and alcoholics anonymous they say that that alcohol is the problem or or this individual spiritual condition that leads them to use alcohol the way they do what does al-anon say is the the like underlying cause of people needing al-anon like what are they treating i guess well you know i use the word control right we can’t cure we didn’t cause it we can’t control it well moi is a type a so i think i have the power to um you know with my sister’s situation you know i lost my older sister a couple of years ago at the age of 70 to this disease she never got into the rooms you know my younger sister at the age of 52 um for many many years i tried to help them understand what it was that they were doing how they were doing and then what was happening to me what happened to me i got so obsessed with them you know i have a friend of mine who’s also been passed away in the program of something else um she used to say um how empty am i if i’m so full of you and um that’s what happens to us you know we get so full of of these individuals and think that we can um you know change their behavior and change their consciousness and help them get clean and sober i mean i uh when we get into the rooms of al-anon what the advantages of being into the rooms of balance and everything about it is spiritual lois wilson said that at the beginning because when bill wilson handed these steps and and traditions and the concepts which came later to al-anon you know he made an agreement with lois to you know talk about the fact that everything about these programs are spiritual and that means to me spirituality to me is that how i live my life and how i speak align them i long align with each other right and so when people come into the rooms about elena and what i would say come into the rooms of allen on so basically you can learn how to take care of yourself and do things for yourself and keep the focus on yourself so that then you can let go and you know have some type of spiritual program in your life for me it was letting go and letting god and knowing and understanding that i didn’t have the power to change anyone or anything even though i thought i did and the other part of that i thought that i was god and that i had all the answers for um all of the addicts and alcoholics in my life and i didn’t and all that i was doing and taking on their situation was getting myself sicker i was more like i said i was angry i was bitter i was depressed i was suicidal and you know i was all of these things and i kept trying to take care of them you know so the bottom line is when people come into the rooms of al-anon we help them step back and start to look at themselves start to do more self-care because self-care is very important and when we keep the focus on ourselves and we start feeding ourselves mentally emotionally spiritually and physically that things believe it or not they not only start changing with us because we can’t give something away that we don’t have right and we’re trying to give something to somebody else that we’re really void of ourselves so once we start making those changes in our lives sometimes and i’m not saying all the times we can see how those changes start affecting other people around us too outside of us and it’s really incredible

and sometimes it doesn’t work sometimes the situation gets worse and sometimes the attic or the alcoholic passes away you know and we don’t have any control over that either you know but the bottom line is that we put the focus on where it needs to be and put the control on where it needs to be on ourselves and in feeding ourselves we’ll be better able to deal with the situations as they arise because they do arise and life happens you know life happens whether it’s through the addicts or the alcoholics life is always happening you know it’s a very uh therapeutic uh type of view when when a therapist operates from a systems perspective you know they they talk about the idea that you know it’s kind of like if you had an assembly line and you put all these ingredients in and you get your product at the end and when you switch one of the ingredients it changes the final product right and that’s you know very much what you’re talking about when we change one of the inputs in our system which could be us changes happen to the whole system and that doesn’t always necessarily reflect what we hope changes right we hope we change and then our struggling partner changes for the the better so to speak it’s also possible that sometimes we change and then that relationship or system ends and breaks apart but usually if you change a piece of a system the system itself will change in some direction or another it’s not going to carry on in the same you know routine or spiral that it is um so there is a a list of questions for people that they can ask themselves about their life on the al-anon website and i’m gonna post a link to that in these show notes so that people can easily access it but to kind of go along with that list what would you say are some like maybe their personal experiences for you or just things you’ve seen time and time again that would be good indicators for somebody who’s sitting at home and thinking i wonder if allen would be good for me what kind of behaviors would you see in their life that maybe would say yes please run to a meeting wow great question jason

well i did a little bit i have all my stuff here i mean i literally have tons of books but um you know one of the first things that i always try to um to bring to to mind is you know and and i’m just just going to drop the word and there’s denial right um being in denial tends to put us in a place of um oh i’m just gonna look the other way and all this is gonna go away well that’s not how it happens right and i have this this thing that when i sponsor women i i i um walk them through is because we first have to recognize that something needs to change right and then we have to become aware of what needs to change and then once we become aware of that then we have to accept accept that something needs to be changed and i’m using the word denial very loosely here but how do i accept denial in my life and the only way that i can be able is to accept denial in my life is to be able to see how i have always lived a life of looking the other way even though the questions were would pop up in my mind and then i looked the other way and go like um yeah this is who’s going to pass like everything else and then once i accept then i can surrender whatever that situation is and then we can let go of whatever it is but you know and the understanding of questions that you were talking about in there there are a lot of wonderful wonderful absolutely incredible questions we have a by the way we have a welcome newcomers packet too i don’t know if you can uh put that on your website which has a lot of things in it like the first one it says what do you do about the alcoholics drinking that has uh some pathways it’s in here is um so the questions um that you know we would ask ourselves um are more like statements okay so what do we ask ourselves do we make excuses for the alcoholics drinking you know and that goes again with the denial thing am i making excuses for the alcoholic um do i try to keep up appearances making sure the alcoholic or the dry guy looks presentable you know again that’s me taking control and wanting to making sure that the neighbors don’t see what’s going on they know what’s going on but you know they don’t see it yeah um am i waking them up in time for work school or the commitments and or do i call here’s a good one do i ultimately get excuses when they couldn’t make it you know do i cover up for them to the neighbors and relatives and friends

um do i am i always making an effort to make sure they eat or get them food because they’re not eating and am i making them stay home to keep out of the sight of other people again trying to hide the secrets you know um am i the one taking care of all the chores around the house you know instead of and and paying the bills and doing everything instead of giving them the dignity and the responsibility to do what they need to do for themselves you know oh here’s another good one have i tried drinking with them so that they wouldn’t get so intoxicated oh my god could you imagine i oh i gotta raise my hand i you know i and i don’t like alcohol i mean i’m the one that had a wine spritzer when i used to go hang out with my friends when i was younger i was the the designated driver i would order a wine spritzer because everybody had something to drink right and it would be on the table all night for three hours while we were at the club dance you know um i i abused alcohol really that’s how my friends

until i encourage them to try controlled drinking and then monitor their efforts could you imagine oh my god so i encourage them to drink at home so they wouldn’t get into trouble you know drink at home don’t go to the bars you know um and here’s a good one so i clean up when they’ve thrown up or worse um and cleaned up so that they wouldn’t see it you know again and again when they wake up you know and these are the types of things that i have to um continually you know when i sponsor women um make sure that you know with repetition repetition right i mean reminder reminder because we have a memory and forgettery so i have to just keep reminding them you know what are you doing how are you how are these are they these things changing for you doing things differently because if we continue to do the same thing over and over again we’re going to get the same results so you know we have to make changes because if nothing changes nothing changes now all these little things that throughout the years i not only use them for myself believe me after 35 years i am still still using these phrases for myself and living my life with these things because you know i’m human and you know i tend to forget i tend to want to get in there with you know still have nieces and nephews and thank god i don’t live with active alcoholism or drug addiction today so i’m going to flip that coin and say in al-anon we learn not to suffer because of the actions or reactions of other people not to suffer and that’s one of the the key word here is suffer right because we come in here thinking of that we’re the victims we are the victims of these alcoholics and drug addicts we’re not victims you know but we’re suffering and we’re going through the pain of it all so we learn not to suffer we learn not to allow ourselves to be used or abused in the interest of another’s recovery this happens a lot a lot where the other person is angry at themselves or frustrated at themselves and they’re taking it out on us you know so and we allow it we allow it to happen so we learn not to allow ourselves to be used or abused we learn not to do for others what they should do for themselves how important is that it’s important for us and for them as i said you know we take away their dignity i know i did that for a long time take other people’s dignity away and you know who wants to do that so giving them giving them the opportunity to do what they can for themselves um and and i know it’s hard it’s hard it’s not easy i’m not talking from place of you know these things happen overnight they don’t it’s not easy we learn not to manipulate situations so others will eat go to bed get up pay bills you know oh manipulation mothering we call them 3ms i can’t remember the other one mothering manipulation and i’ll think of the other one there’s so much in this head but we do that we do that so we say because it’s naturally right for us alinons we’re here to take care of other people you know to help others and um we use the word selfish in in our program but selfish is not a bad thing being selfish with ourselves um i i always thought that being selfish meant you know was a bad word because i was you know brought into the world to take care of other people but learning in the recovery rooms that i can be selfish and i can say no and i can at the same time be loving you know say what i mean mean what i say you know those types of things and you know again it’s not it’s not a bad thing it’s just me learning how to do things differently changing things i learned not to cover up for another’s mistakes or misdeeds i learned not to create a crisis oh my god i don’t know i mean there’s a line in the big book this is one of my favorite lines from the big book it says here after in the drama of life he is our director he is the father and we are his children and my favorite was here after in the drama of life oh my god i don’t know if you can tell but i am a little drama queen and um oh god so much drama you know crisis after crisis after crisis and i didn’t know that i was in many cases creating more crises on top of the crisis that was there and that was oh god take a deep breath thinking about that and again not to prevent the crisis if it is in the natural course of the events you know and i i wanted to put that cushion underneath everything and take care of all my loved ones um but you know i i again you know all these people are gone and i i i could not have changed their trajectory in their lives they made choices for themselves as i too made choices in my life um and um you know it still saddens me a lot but um you know it turned out the way that it turned out

i love my sisters but they made choices for themselves and i miss them every day um because we did have a lot of wonderful times together but you know the alcoholism and the drug addiction took them and but that’s for their choices

this is probably a a difficult question to answer but based on your experience of people you’ve seen around your your the rooms or the program do people who lose their their qualifying partner or or member do they tend to stay in the allen program afterwards or is there a tendency that they don’t need it anymore okay so here’s another part of my story so how i got to maryland i moved to maryland because i met a man um at a church retreat and we found out that we had a lot of stuff in common and um so we got married he was in a.a and i was in al-anon and we met at a church retreat in pennsylvania in allentown pennsylvania so i commuted back and forth for six years eventually i moved down here to maryland he was very active in aaa um he was short of he he died in february and in july february 2004 and july 2004 he would have been in the program 20 years and um when he passed away and like i said we were both very active i was very active in now known he was very active in aaa and when he passed away um you know this program and i made one phone call from the hospital and before within minutes i could tell you between 10 and 15 minutes the emergency room at howard county was filled with eight people and island on people i was in the middle of the night

and um it was unexpected he dies 12 days after a knee replacement from a blood clot bursting in his brain he was clean and you know he was going to meetings and doing a lot of like i said service work so what do i do after this right for two weeks these people carried me and held me and loved me all my house was a revolving door allen on people a people food i mean it was just i can’t begin to tell you what i was being carried because i was numb right and um so the question oh is always asked of me you know why do you keep coming back to meetings you don’t live with active alcoholism and well i’m an adult child of an alcoholic and as i mentioned i have had all this alcohol in my life so i’m going to keep coming back i’m a liked her um i have a little tattoo in my hand with the island on symbol on it um so i’m a lifer you know in the rooms but getting back to your question that was my story and i will continue to because i i could never give to alan on what it’s given to me right so in the rooms i do see situations where people have lost their qualifiers and they stop coming to the meetings for a small period of time because then what happens is i’ll go to a meeting and that person walks in and then they have realized after some period of time that what’s in these rooms is a way of life it’s a way of life for them no matter what experience they’ve had with the qualifier that they found out that their jobs and with other relatives in their lives and just family situations that they need these rooms so yes they might leave but eventually they do come back and come full circle back into the rooms of al-anon and realizing and that happens more often than not when they realize that they really should have stayed you know and it could be a year it could be two years it could be three years because we still have our hands open you know when they trip in and we welcome them back in and let them know they were going to love them and no matter what you know but i believe that this program has so many elements to it where people can come from you know different walks of life where they’re suffering from depression from grieving oh going back to that situation about grieving you know um we don’t we not only just grieve our qualifiers we grieve so many things in life and learning how to walk through grief and having the tools of al-anon is so helpful for so many people

this episode has been brought to you in part by voices of hope inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopemaryland.org

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and now let’s talk a little bit about what’s been going on the last over two years right where we have been secluded and isolated in the room in our homes you know getting into onto an allen on meeting opens up new doors and possibilities for us to not only explore more about ourselves because i know i’ve been broken open in a different way but for people to start doing things for themselves even to log on to an allen on meeting and um and listen sacredly listen um to what’s there and it might work you know for we ask people to come to at least six meetings and you know if it’s not for them it’s not for them but at the same time we might hear something that will help us with our grief with our isolation um with whatever it is and so again i will go back and and and reiterate to the fact that there is so many things that are bubbling up for so many people right now and if they need some type of support um of love of just someone listening and of course it’s not i’m not asking people to just come and verbally start throwing verbal stuff into the meetings because we do have some restrictions at the meetings where we ask people to strictly stay to recovery right or speak on recovery and what’s going on there um that’s important but i think the sacred listening aspects of it helps a lot too a question along the same lines a little bit i would imagine most people that walk into their al-anon meeting for the first time are probably currently struggling with an active uh alcohol user in their life how many people or or maybe i should even ask are people welcome because i know there is you know you refer to an adult child of an alcoholic there’s a whole separate program now for that but are people welcome who maybe don’t have a current qualifier in their life but are feeling like the lasting effects of being raised in a home with an alcoholic of course and you know what that’s a really good question and i’ll tell you why because i found out in the rooms too what happens is a lot of people um will come to into the rooms and because of like you jason a therapist sent them into the rooms and and here’s the the marriage codependency and right living with addiction and alcoholism i remember going to coda years ago right and uh because i had codependency issues where i always felt like the other person was more important than me so i was taking care of them more than i was taking care of myself so what happens in the rooms and when people get sent to the rooms for whatever they’re going through uh issues that might come from them growing up in an alcoholic home or not growing up in an alcoholic home um that the therapist said why don’t you go to a couple of alano meetings and check it out when once they’re in there they realize that maybe they did not have alcoholic parents but maybe the parents grew up with an alcohol maybe they did have a great grandmother or grandfather who had alcoholism in their lives or something you know the the lineage of the the line goes so deep right sometime that um that we don’t know exactly when we’re in the rooms uh why we’re there but as we keep coming back and we’re sitting there we start to linking thing we start to link things together and see how somehow we have been affected because one of the other things that i found out in the rooms is that while somebody might have not grown up in an alcoholic home they grew up with a parent or a sibling that had mental illness when you start lining those things up you start seeing all the things that correlate you know with growing up in those type of homes and how those situations made us crazy we talk about the elephant in the room right there’s an elephant in the room and nobody wants to talk about it the denial you know going around the elephant walking around the elephant is happening because the same thing happens when you’re talking about mental illness is that big elephant in the room and i believe this is my belief again somebody might miss in alan on my listen to this podcast and go like what is she you know i believe that you know mental illness plays a big role in alcoholism and you know people being in al-anon and having issues because you know my father my father was a world war ii veteran you know and he had ptsd he was very abusive with my mom and he was very abusive to us when he drank um but i believe that his situation had a lot to do with that mental illness for him and his his siblings his siblings all died of this well a bulk of them died of this disease not all of them but you know um learning about the whatever you need to learn about in the rooms at least is the start for people to begin feeling out what it is that they need to do um and again you know coming to the rooms listening and seeing what works for you and then maybe one day there’s it you start sharing and start seeing um how and what has affected you in the way that it’s affected you and you could see the correlation and why you really belong in the rooms of al-anon and i’m so glad you said that because that really speaks a lot to my experience i was sent there i was like i don’t get it who’s who do i talk about as being the person for why i’m here and you know my father there wasn’t a ton of alcohol in my home my father drank very occasionally it wasn’t a thing for him but he struggled deeply with depression and you know as i learned later in my life like his behaviors were very much what we would call the the dry drunks behaviors right he was angry he was miserable and these mental health challenges like you’re talking about really make people struggle to connect and so they’re very detached and you know there’s some aspect of that relationship that left me wanting and thinking i wasn’t enough to to connect to and all these factors and like learning in that allen on process of like wow i feel the same exact way affected as all these other people in this room and i can relate so much when they share um so it was a little struggle to get past that i don’t have an alcoholic part and that feeling right because i wanted to be a part of but man yeah if you feel that way please go to a meeting and give yourself a chance because there’s such beautiful information in this program and if you stay open-minded you know if you stay open because if you if you don’t walk and then go like ah this is this is not for me these people are you know crazy they’re just like you know i don’t you know the other thing is i i always laugh about this because in in aaa they always think that in al-anon where where they’re talking about them you know it’s a little ego trip right but uh no we’re not in there talking about any any of them you know we’re we’re in the rooms really trying to work on ourselves and doing the best we can to um bring some type of reality to what it is that’s going on in our lives and and and what we can do to make the situation better for ourselves and all those around us for suffering and i think back to my sort of i’ll say introduction to al-anon was from my mom when i was in my addiction she went to some al-anon meetings you know to try to get support and her what she had came back and said was well i don’t think that’s for me because you’re an adult and you don’t even live at home with me and i think her expectation was that they were gonna somehow teach her how to deal with me and that from my understanding and and what you’ve kind of explained that’s not the process the process is that you come in and use these 12 steps and get a sponsor and work on yourself and the addict or the alcoholic needs to be their own person but that you come in and make the changes in yourself to become a healthier version of you as you describe it as a self-help program um billy that’s wonderful thank you for sharing that i really appreciate that because um a couple of things happen too for people that come especially uh women you know and i’m not saying we have a we got a lot of men in recovery right now and they are amazing being there in the rooms um with the with men i i love it i love you know to be in those meetings um and and meetings with dual members you know um that helps a lot too because we get different perspectives but you know i had a friend of mine who was um in recovery and she stopped coming to meetings and who i loved dearly and she um said to me i stopped coming to meetings because i felt like the women in there were telling me to leave my husband and i’m not ready to leave my husband and i was like who said that to you and um she said well i can’t pinpoint anybody saying and i said well only because i i would wanted to approach that person um you know in this area a lot of people and i would not have done it in a bad way i mean in this area uh because of the service work that i do a lot of people know me and you know um they’ll call me to ask me you know things but so i do the same thing i’ll call them and ask them how they’re doing and you know talk about different things and just like well i just got the feeling you know that people were telling me that and i said no no no we would never ever do that you know tell somebody to leave their spouse you know one of the things and i always get asked that question when women when i women that i sponsor they’ll say should i leave him and i was like honey i cannot tell you to leave your husband or your you know throw your qualifier out in the street you will know every fiber cell and tissue of your being will know exactly when you need to do and take a step to handle that situation i’m here to sponsor you through these 12 steps you know um help you learn more about al-anon and how you can contribute and be more of service i’m not here to tell you you know how to leave your spouse i’m not here to tell you how to make your alcoholic better okay because that is really to your point a lot of people and they admit to that you know after a couple of meetings and say like hey you know what i’ve been to three meetings already and you guys are not really helping me i’m here to get you know like the answer to how do i go home and get this situation cleared up you know um and we’re like uh keep coming back that’s all we say keep coming back because um until that shift that mental shift happens for that person when they start realizing no we we you know we can’t tell you how to do you know take care of this alcoholic or drug addict you know we just can’t do that um and we don’t have the answers and believe me after all these years i still don’t have the answers the only thing that i could do is speak for my own experience strength and hope and how this program has helped me you know being a place that i am today you know i’m in a place of having peace and serenity in my life um i i still need this program and i’ll tell you really quickly why um i have i had hip surgery on january 17th so i thought this is this is me that as soon as i woke up from recovery i was going to jump off the table start dancing and singing and going like oh i got a hip i got a hip i got a new hip yeah yeah yeah well that’s not how this happens you know it’s a recovery process it’s a one day at a time process it’s you know your body healing and showing you how to slowly take care of yourself you know because but what i did do here’s what i did i got home they keep you overnight so on the the next day when i got home i had my husband now who i’m married to who is uh he’s an island on two and he’s the salt of the earth and i love my guy he is amazing um but he’s got his own program and i got my own program he doesn’t take care of me and i don’t take care we we we do this individually so he came home i said honey can you bring all my allen on books laid them out next to me i got my meeting list because now we’re on zoom right so i got right away i got on a meeting and that was what has gotten me now to tomorrow it’ll be three weeks go to a meeting every day read my allen on literature because that’s helping me get to a place where i want to be where i can dance with my hip you know a little bit and um and enjoy life enjoy life because um there is no and i’ll you know say that there’s no good or bad only my thinking makes it so right and there’s what i need to do is stay on that path where i know that my higher power the higher power that i have today the higher power that working me that i work through these steps um because i know i don’t know if you guys remember i said i thought i was god when i walked into these rooms but the higher power that i have today in my life and we’re not a religious program we’re not a religious program i want to say that but i do have a higher power in my life that knows exactly what i need and when i need it not what i want what i need and he knows exactly what everybody else needs and all i need to do is to mine my own business and stay out of other people’s um lives you know but love them love them we talk about detachment with love right and stay detached and support and do whatever i can in a loving way um but not engaged in a way where i have to take care of everyone and everything and you know it opens up life it opens up life in a new way and i’m sorry your mom didn’t stay billy because you know um i’m sure that would have helped a lot you know uh back in the day right you know when you were probably going through stuff but you know the bottom line is that we all get what we need when we need it and we arrive in these rooms when we arrive um you know there’s no trajectory that says you got to do this you got to do it that way you got to do it this way and there’s a lot of you know 12-step things out there right now that are helping people um we are in this area we have uh i think it’s 264 meetings um allen on meetings because of the pandemic um you would have to go onto our um al-anon website and i’m gonna you know i’m gonna jump on there jason billy it’s

maryland www.maryland

hyphen alanon.org and um you could get all the meanings in the area the ones that are face to face back face to face and the ones that are still zoomed and you know try out what you know sticks meanings i you know i you know we say now try six meetings but i’m gonna tell you when i got into the rooms back in the day um it was like get your butt in here and sit in that chair and stay it was you’re here because you need it but you know it wasn’t like uh try six meetings if it’s for you or not that’s just my own personal pet peeve you know get in here and get as much as you can and stay and do and believe me i the life that i have today like i said is way beyond anything that i would have imagined this little girl that was born into that abusive alcoholic home um having this life that i have today with peace and serenity but i have to work on it and again quoting a friend of mine from the program she says i keep coming back because my life depends on it and that’s why i keep coming back because uh my life um my life depends on it it does you know one day at a time you know i i love some of the inclusivity that you’ve mentioned about you know being able to come there kind of i don’t want to say no matter the problem but you know a lot of different struggles seem very welcome in your idea of al-anon i’m curious though is there any person that you think maybe wouldn’t benefit from coming to al anon or or might not be the the person that al-anon is the right place for is that does anything stick out around that yeah it does um and we’ve had situations where the you know there’s been a really bad case of mental illness um and they will come into the rooms as i have mentioned earlier and they will want to um manipulate the meeting and talk about um you know all the acts of their their situation through mental illness that they’re going through and that disrupts the meanings um it takes you know the the whole onus of the meaning away from what we really need to be there so you know i would not encourage someone if they’re going through you know some schizophrenia situations or you know deep rooted you know i can only think of schizophrenia right now but they’re the mental illnesses that are there um what i would do is i would encourage them to go and get you know the real help that they need through any you know mental um organizations that could better help them than we can you know um because we might say things that would just trigger them even more yeah so yeah so that that i would not and encourage um and of course um we would always work on someone who is in a domestic violence situation um to come and and be with us but we’re not an organization that will you know tell somebody what to do in a domestic violence situation so we would encourage them to also go get the help that they need through whatever domestic violence situations um are out there that they can help i want to give a big push for um is it the 2-1-1 number that has a list of organizations where you can you know reach out to and we’re on there too for the area um and people can call there and get the help that they need and direct it toward the right organization that they might need at any particular time yeah i’m actually it’s interesting you said that i did a little bit of interning at united way and i was amazed that 2-1-1 existed and i was like if i’ve lived in baltimore and don’t know about this how do other people not like yeah two one one it’s a number you can call it puts you right in touch with a social worker and they can get you hooked up to all kinds of resources in baltimore whether you’re struggling with a individual that’s struggling with alcohol you know whether you’re struggling with mental health whether you’re struggling with financial resources like they have access to a ton of material so feel free to use that that’s what they’re there for uh adalia you have an incredible wealth of knowledge which has been amazing to hear some of like the nuances and guidance you’ve had is there anything as we we get short on time here is there anything really important that you wanted to add into this and and i did want to mention i will put that uh the maryland allen on website link up on our site as well um um well i just want to leave you guys with suggestions you know from and they’re right here in our newcomers packet um anyone can have access to this newcomers packet we actually have it online it’s the um they could go on alanon.org slash newcomer and this this packet is is online um so we suggest you attend at least one meeting every week if you decide to go to alan on um talk to eleanor members in between meetings and we do have now even in the zoo meetings after the meetings we have the meeting after the meeting we assume so you can talk to to them um try to if you want to stay in al-anon we encourage people to try to find a sponsor someone that they could talk to um and they might necessarily be a sponsor just get phone numbers and people that they can talk to and again you know i love this program i absolutely love this program and um i i love what you guys are doing it’s amazing to me that um in today’s day and time from 35 years ago when i fought before so now that we can do this right it’s just amazing um and the more that we can get this word out to family and friends of alcoholics that um knowing that you know our common welfare should come first you know personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity and that we’re all in this together we’re all in this together and that no one no one needs to go through whatever they’re going through alone there’s always someone out here that they can reach out to and help them walk through whatever it is they need to walk through because where two or more are gathered there i know is my higher power and their higher power so i’m really grateful to you guys and thank you for for letting me share this is very emotional thank you so much for coming on yeah this was beautiful italia you’ve got a an incredible way with words and uh thank you so much for coming on and we’ll be in touch with you okay thank you namaste have a great day you too

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