Mary Ellen preferred to launch the holiday season with her husband and beagle around a cozy fire. Lights from the fireplace and Christmas tree made her living room sparkle. The scene matched an image Mary Ellen had of her house in a painting. Everything was perfect, until her husband started drinking.
Today, Mary Ellen is an anonymous member of Al-Anon Family Groups. She shares her first name and story to help people who are experiencing the impacts of a loved one’s drinking this year.
Mary Ellen recalls the way the holiday season affected her long ago. All of her cozy feelings dissolved until she felt isolated and abandoned. Her husband’s drinking created a vast distance between them. Eventually, Mary Ellen was completely alone.
“When I found Al-Anon Family Groups, I started to come back to life,” Mary Ellen said. “People in Al-Anon understand because they have lived through similar situations. Our experiences might be different, but our feelings are the same. I don’t know where I would be today, especially during the holidays, if I hadn’t found Al-Anon.”
Mary Ellen has managed to draw insights and even humor from her experiences with other people’s problem drinking. “Even the Christmas tree in our living room died prematurely,” Mary Ellen said, “because our dog kept drinking all of the water out of the tree stand.”
In Al-Anon, Mary Ellen came to understand herself better, realizing how her parents’ drinking problems helped shape her attitudes and expectations about the holidays. While she accepts that drinking problems occur in many families, recovery is readily available. Today, Mary Ellen no longer feels angry or alone. Local Al-Anon Family Groups are available for anyone who has been affected by someone else’s drinking. Nearly 15,000 Al-Anon Family Groups meet every week throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information about Al-Anon Family Groups, go to www.Al-Anon.org or call 1-888-4AL-ANON during business hours, Eastern Time.
In Huron, Al-Anon meets in Huron Towers Room 108 at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and at 7 p.m. Fridays.For the complete article see the 12-22-2012 issue.
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