I was at my Monday meeting last night (it’s a book study) and we were reading ‘To Wives’ in the Big Book. I have ALWAYS hated this chapter. To me, it sounds like an old man who wants to cheat on his wife and have this nefarious behavior totally overlooked. The language is alienating to me. After posing a series of questions the wife of an alcoholic might ask, these questions are answered with such comments as:
“Try not to condemn your alcoholic husband no matter what he says or does.”
“Treat him, when you can, as though he had pneumonia.”
“Remember that he is very ill.”
Then we get a description of various types of alcoholic husbands. Meh! PLEASE…
So I shared this in the meeting, that there would be some stuff going down in my house if my husband was actively drinking, but I added that I think that the real value in this chapter is encouraging us towards our sister program, Al-anon, when dealing with loved ones who are alcoholic. I have found Al-anon to be particularly useful in my sobriety (even though I identify as an alcoholic/addict.) I was driven there when my ass was on fire (read: my marriage was falling apart) and I got some tools that really bulked up my spiritual toolkit. What can I say? LOVE A LITTLE AL-ANON IN MY LIFE!
Many of the meetings I go to have al-anons who attend. The one last night was no exception. This very old woman, who had undoubtedly been going to Al-anon since before I was born, politely reminded me after I shared that many of the women of this time period stayed because they had to. For them, leaving their husbands was frowned upon. Most would have had to return to their parent’s homes, disgraced and alone. For some, that wasn’t an option since parents were dead already. In other words (this lovely Al-anon reminded me) things were different then.
She schooled me! And I love it when an oldtimer puts me in my place. I am always interested in learning and growing my perspective on things. And I realize that it can be very narrow-minded sometimes. She brought a completely new perspective to my understanding of women in (and around) A.A. at this time. I am so grateful!
I thought in the name of the holidays (and all that can go tragically wrong with our self-love and care during this time) I’d share one of the single most valuable tools I have learned in any 12-step room: The 5 Gs. And I learned them in Alanon!
1) Get off his back.
2) Get our of his way.
3)Give him to God.
4)Go to a meeting.
5)Get on with your life.
SInce the day I learned these, there has been virtually no situation with any person that has seemed unmanageable to me. Male of female, spouse, partner, friend, boss–these 5 steps are sure to put me in right relation with any other human being. They remind me that there is important work to do…and it’s on myself. It has nothing do with any other person on the planet.