As I sit and think about the approaching holidays I can only be grateful for the people who came into my life at a time when I needed them the most. My children were both suffering from addictions and I was searching for a way to help them. When I first found Al Anon I thought “This will be my answer, I will learn how to fix them”. I went to my first meeting and listened to others share their stories. Surprisingly many of them sounded so much like mine. I kept coming just knowing that one day I would find the magic answer and slowly that answer appeared. However it was not in the form I expected. Instead I learned that the person I needed to change was not my children but me. I began the very slow process of accepting what is and finding a way to manage my own life because that was the only way I could help my children.
I continued to listen and share my thoughts and feelings and read the literature. At first I began to accept the ideas and thoughts in my head but it took a long time before I could believe them in my heart and soul. Even then I would fall back into old ways of thinking and reacting but I learned how to catch myself and not stay in that negative place that stole my happiness.
I say these things because my youngest son died from alcohol addiction 5 years ago and if not for the things I learned in those rooms I would not be the mostly happy and content person that I am today. I will always miss my son and wish he could have lived a longer and happier life. But good can come from pain and sorrow. I believe that my son would not want me to be sad, that he would want me to live a happy life and I try to do that for both of us. As hard as it is to accept, the choices he made were his and all I could do was love him and be there for him. The knowledge that he knew that gives some comfort to me.
These are some of the things I have learned. Happiness is a choice not a reaction to outside circumstance. What others think of me is not my business. It does no good to worry about things beyond my control. It is not my job to fix others.
My hope is that others who are suffering with sorrow and feelings of helplessness will find a path that helps.