The family of alcoholics is not something I usually talk about as my sympathies always lie with the alcoholic or addict. Part of staying sober is understanding the people we have hurt and attempt to right those wrongs.
I have seen both sides of alcoholism as my father was an alcoholic and I am too. Growing up with an alcoholic really plays havoc with our security never knowing what kind of mood our parent would be in. Usually my father would start the evening happy and by the end of the night my parents would be fighting and that was really hard to listen to. The next day it wasn’t spoken about and certainly there were no apologies coming from either parent. Often there were promises made about the fun things we would do in the future which never happened. When my children were little during my drinking one thing I always tried to do was live up to promises I had made no matter how bad I felt the next day. There were still many times I let them down and I try to remain open to hearing about those times even now that my children are adults.
The spouse of the alcoholic or addict suffer immensely. In my case money was a problem as I was a doctor shopper to get pain medication. I went to so many doctors to get prescriptions that it was necessary to declare bankruptcy. I never set out to have doctor bills, I figured that it would be okay because I had health insurance. I found out after the fact that insurance only paid eighty percent of the bill. We all have many stories about the things we did but the bottom line is we caused our spouse pain and suffering due to our disease.
Certainly getting clean and sober is one way to make amends for what we have done. It is important to understand that the spouse has anger and we have to try and be patient by allowing them to talk about it when they feel the need. It is tough stuff to hear and often I would get impatient and I believe I once suggested that the people in Al-Anon were nothing but a bunch of whiners. Al-Anon is a group that the spouses of alcoholics can go to as a way to get their feelings out. I realize that my reaction was a way to cover up how bad I felt for all the ways I caused suffering. It seemed as though I was being attacked when it really was just that he needed me to understand how bad my disease had gotten.
Alcoholism is a disease that we didn’t ask for and yet we still need to be accountable for our actions in order to stay sober.