M(3), 11/30/15: Alcoholism is a Family Disease
For those reading on the day this is published, a sincere thank you for taking time out of your Cyber Monday online shopping to read 😉
Today is one of the infrequent five-Mondays-in-a-month situations that leave me scrambling for a new type of literature to read in my Monday morning meeting. I had something ready to go that was okay, if not a bit irrelevant to the time of year. Then, a few minutes before the meeting started, a new opportunity presented itself: I was able to obtain a copy of a new book that is conference approved for 12-step meetings. Entitled Forming True Partnerships: How AA members use the program to improve relationships, it is a collection of stories from the AA Grapevine, the magazine put out by the Fellowship. The stories are divided into 7 categories; we started at the beginning, and read the first story under the category “Family.”
I forgot to take a headcount, but it was a decently sized meeting; most of the usual suspects, plus 3 additional new faces. The story was compelling, telling of a family with more than a half dozen family members who got sober through our 12-step program. If someone doubts the concept of the genetic component of the disease of alcoholism, the story provides some powerful proof!
A few parts of the story stood out to me. First, it was uplifting to read of a family who was able to role model for one another what it takes to get and stay sober. Often the reverse is true: it is easier to stay stuck in alcoholic thinking and behavior because that is the family norm.
Next, the author of the story used the word “surrender” quite a bit, and suggested that surrendering was the key to sobriety for his family. For all of his family success stories, there were two that resisted the need to surrender, and both died from the disease as a result. For some reason, the notion of surrender was calming to me this morning; as long as I cease to resist that I have this disease, and then I can do what it takes to stay sober today.
Simple, but of course not easy, especially if you are still in active addiction. One of the newcomers is just a little over 24 hours sober. She had time in the program previously, but stopped attending, and eventually picked up again. She is back, but it is clear from her sharing that she is struggling with the idea of surrendering to the disease. She wants to be sober, she says, but she doesn’t want anyone to tell her what to do. She knows she has made mistakes, but so have all the people around her. She knows she has some work ahead of her, so for now she is just going to keep coming back to the meetings.
A few people shared their family trees as it relates to alcoholism. Not surprisingly, everyone has multiple people, spanning multiple generations, that are or were alcoholics.
Another one of the new faces this morning revealed that he is 9 months sober, and so all of these holidays are sober firsts for him. He really appreciated the recently celebrated Thanksgiving holiday. He used to dread holidays, because they were free passes to overconsume, which for him inevitably led to disagreements and family chaos. He appreciated not being the center of family drama this holiday, and he looks forward to an equally peaceful Christmas.
Another woman spoke at length of her family tree as it relates to alcoholism. She is one of 11, her Mom is one of 14, and her Mom’s mom had 14 children. I suppose with those kinds of numbers an alcoholic or two is bound to come out of the mix! She has 25 years sober, several of her brothers and sisters have sober time, and they are currently dealing with an actively alcoholic brother. She says her mantra is the phrase “cunning, baffling and powerful.” Each time she observes a new iteration of the disease, she is reminded of her mantra.
As soon as she said this, two long-timers held up their hands: “you forgot to add patient!” they exclaimed simultaneously.
Cunning, baffling, powerful, and patient. Words to remember as I navigate the holiday season!
Taking time out of my online Cyber Monday shopping to attend a meeting, and then write about it 😉
Posted on November 30, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Family disease, Holidays, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Recovery, Relationships, Sobriety, Substance Abuse, Support group, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.