I went to my first Al-anon meeting last night and the disaster that ensued was fairly predictable.
First, I waited until shortly before I left to tell the husband I was going out. He wanted to know where I was going, so I told him. His response? “But I’m not drinking tonight, so why are you going tonight?” Right there. With that response, I KNEW he was going to wait until I walked out the door and then get raging drunk.
I went to the meeting, which was composed of older men and women, who had all pretty much left their alcoholic. Not that that is a bad thing, not at all. But listening to them talk, it struck me that even in Al-anon, I feel alone. Every person that talked had grown up in an alcoholic home. I didn’t. Every one of them left their alcoholic spouses. I don’t plan to. At the end, the leader said “now, for those who wish it, please join us in the Lord’s Prayer” Each and every person stood up, and those on either side of me grabbed my hands. It was very uncomfortable and not something that I felt I could bow out of. Especially because I would be the only one. I ended up just standing quietly while they said the prayer in unison.
Everyone was very welcoming and friendly. Some of their stories moved me. I was a litte bit uncomfortable with how they passed the list of steps and stuff around expecting each person to read one out loud, only because, at that point I just wanted to be an observer. I didn’t really want to participate right then, I spent the night on the verge of tears and my hands were shaking. They kept telling me that I didn’t have to do anything right then, but then would hand me this paper and tell me to read it. Again, not a horrible thing, not at all. But not something I was really equipped to be able to do at the moment.
So, at the end, I recieve my hugs, my literature and my phone number list. I say good bye and head home. I walk into the house and smell beer. He had decided to punish me for going by getting drunk. As soon as I drove off, he got in the car and went to the store for beer. He doesn’t understand, why, when he is drinking less than he ever has before, I am going to meetings now.
I cannot get through to him that the meetings are not about HIM. Of course, he is the reason I went in the first place, but the meetings are for ME. How I am going to deal with MY feelings. He alternates between telling me to leave, saying he is going to leave and then telling me how much he loves me and how wonderful I am and what an asshole he is. He is very defensive that I went to a meeting in the first place.
I caved and told him that I wasn’t going to another one, because I can’t handle the raging argument afterwards. I can’t handle the fighting the second I walk in the door. But oh, now he wants me to go. Of course. Jump to the opposite side just to keep the argument going. I really attempted to disengage, but I’ve learned if I don’t participate it just gets worse. So I stay calm and answer in monotone one or 2 word sentances. Finally he falls asleep.
I don’t know if I will go to another meeting. Not only because of him. Honestly, my impression was it was a close knit, fairly religious group. And while it works for them, I felt the “outsider” they were very welcoming, very sincere and friendly. But I don’t think it’s a good fit for me. I will try to make it to one more at this location and see what my impressions are.
After that? I don’t know. I may look into another meeting that will work with my schedule. I’ll have to see when the time comes.