Went to a meeting


Crazy Cat Lady
Well, I went to the Al-anon meeting for families, as opposed to parents, this afternoon.

There were only 6 of us, including me.

I'm not sure what to think of the whole thing. It was very chatty, and there was a lot of flat out religious discussion that made it obvious that I was the only person in the room who was not Christian, the language used was not limited to the "HIgher Power" that I'd come to expect from reading about these sorts of programs here on the board.

The one piece of advice I came away from the meeting with was to "let go of my sister and place her in "God's" hands, which wasn't exactly what I was looking for. I was looking for productive ways to handle how angry I am about this whole thing, especially the effect it is having on my mother.

One thing I did note was that the other families' addicts seemed to be in much worse shape than my sister, who is very functional when it comes to work, etc. She has financial issues, but has never been in legal trouble as a result of her addiction issues.

I don't approve of the moral code by which she lives her life at all, but she's not doing anything illegal.

There's a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for adults up here that also holds meetings, and I'm gonna check into their public meeting schedule and see what they have before writing Al-anon up in this town off completely. I can't hack the religious aspect of the group I went to today.


Well-Known Member
You'd probably do best privately and with a cognitive behavioral therapist. This is logic based. I utilized this resource as well as Al-Anon. My Al-Anon group did talk about a Higher Power or God, but no specific one and we were also told that if we were atheists, we could use ANYTHING that soothes us as our higher power, such as the ocean or nature or music. I'm not an atheist by any means, but I'm not a Christian either. We were a large group with quite a mix of people. Maybe a larger group would be better for you or, as I stated earlier, private therapy. There is no reason to be angry at your sister. It won't change anything for her or for your mother. And your mother is the only person who can set boundaries and not allow your sister to treat her that way. And any therapist, religious or atheist, is going to tell you to let go of your sister and mom's problems because you can not do anything to change them. Your mom has a role is letting your sister treat her badly. She is allowing that. And until she puts her foot down and creates boundaries, it will continue. We can not change or fix anybody except ourselves. Getting upset and angry over what other people do to each other, even if we love them, is not helpful to them or to ourselves.

This advice, which you can take or leave, came from thirty years of Al-Anon and private psychologists and therapists of all stripes, religions, lack of religions, and ethnicities. I have never had one therapist tell me being angry, resentful or trying to fix other people works and I've talk to quite a wide variety of different professionals and self-help groups.

I have also learned I can find wisdom in beliefs I don't share. I never rule out that somebody could help me.



Crazy Cat Lady
My therapist will be out of the office until Wednesday. I am going to call her office on Wednesday and schedule an appointment for a butt-kicking.

I KNOW the anger I'm feeling is ridiculous and I need to let go of it. It's not really any of my concern and believe me, my mother can set her own boundaries if she feels the need.

I need someone to vent to who will let me get it out of my system and then tell me what I should be thinking, basically.

My problem is that I almost never really get angry, so I'm not real good at dealing with it, and a lot of this is frustration because it's the same old story playing itself out AGAIN to the same old conclusion.

I can do nothing to change my sister. I know that. All I can do is change how I react to her, and for the most part I've done that. I was way off my game at 2:30AM and should've hung up on her as soon as I realized that A: it wasn't an emergency, and B: she was drunk.


Well-Known Member
GoingNorth, it's a pity that you have to wait and that the group you tried was so religious. I am a Christian...but I have to admit, the religious aspect of the self-help groups always kind of threw me. I haven't been to own, but the whole, "turn it over to a higher power" thing seems a little...I don't know...lazy. It's one thing to have faith, but I've always subscribed to the "God helps those who help themselves" school of thought.

Did the residential treatment facility not have any groups? Feel free to vent here. We may not be much help...but we can listen. :)


Crazy Cat Lady
I haven't heard back from the Residential Treatment Center (RTC). They used to have public groups a couple of times a week in the after noons, but they are a private facility and the bulk of groups are for clients and their families,which makes sense.

They are also a faith-based organization, so I don't know if their groups would be any better.

The problem with the group I went to was this it was a very long-standing group were the few attendees had been attending for years and it had devolved into a social gathering of sorts.

Turns out they had met for lunch before hand and had plans to go to the custard shop for coffee and dessert afterwards. I was not invited. I just sort of sat there and listened to them vent about their adult Difficult Child family members when I was hoping for some information DEALING with adult Difficult Child family members.

Hopefully my counsellor will be able to whip my butt back into shape once I get an appointment with her. I think venting all over her and being told how I should be thinking about all of this might be the best solution.


Well-Known Member
Don't give up. They don't mean to un include you, just listen for now and participate. Let them know you as you will know them. Give it a chance for both of you to connect. It'll take a few weeks.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
I'm sorry you did not have a better response at the Al-Anon meeting. Have you checked to see if there are any other meetings in your area?
As for the anger you are experiencing, it can take time to work through those emotions. One thing I do know about holding onto anger is it only hurts you. I have had some anger issues with family members, mostly my Difficult Child but also with one of my sisters. I found that in order for me to let go of the anger I needed to forgive them and this by no means meant I forgot what they did, I just simply was not going to allow them to hold my emotions hostage any longer. Of course it's always easier said than done.
As for needing to vent, we are all here for you, vent away!!!
Hang in there!!!


Well-Known Member
Sorry about the group. I'd find another one. There are lots and lots. You'll get a good fit, eventually. Unfortunately, you have to deal with-your anger NOW.
I like cognitive therapy.
Not sure about how to process all of this. Wish I had some advice on processing anger. I'm kind of in the same place. :(


Well-Known Member
Staff member
I went to an Alanon meeting once and they all joined hands at the end and said the Lord's prayer. I was really surprised. It seemed like it would be very off-putting to anyone that was not a Christian. I never went back.

I have found private therapy very helpful.


Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I KNOW the anger I'm feeling is ridiculous and I need to let go of it. It's not really any of my concern and believe me, my mother can set her own boundaries if she feels the need.

I think this is the crux of what is happening, Going. The anger you feel is not ridiculous. It is composed of shame at and for your sister, of rage at her putting your mother in this situation instead of taking responsibility for herself, and of great, bottomless sorrow at what all of this means for each of you, for your whole family.

You are correct, in your anger.

Beneath it is sorrow.

Here is something that helps me. (And we all know how well-adjusted I am.)


"And you must be able to bear your sorrow; even if it seems to crush you, you will be able to stand up again, for human beings are so strong and your sorrow must become an integral part of yourself, part of your body and your soul, you mustn't run away from it, but bear it like an adult. Do not relieve your feelings through hatred, do not seek to be avenged....

Give your sorrow all the space and shelter that it is due, for if everyone bears his grief honestly and courageously, the sorrow that now fills the world will abate. But if you do not create a decent place for your sorrow, and instead reserve most of the space inside you for hatred and thoughts of revenge ~ from which new sorrows will be born for others ~ then sorrow will never cease in this world and multiply. And if you have given sorrow the space its gentle origins demand, then you may truly say: life is beautiful, and so rich. So beautiful and so rich that it makes you want to believe in God."

The Diaries of Etty Hilesum

Etty Hilesum was a young Jewish woman. The diaries chronicle the changes in her outlook and perceptions as she was targeted during the Holocaust.

Her diaries were found and published, posthumously.


Crazy Cat Lady
I don't know that reading the diary of a someone who went through the Holocaust would be that helpful to me. The last of my relatives who survived the camps died last month at the age of 101.

I grew up hearing the stories from those who lived through the Sho'ah. I toured the camps in Germany and the former Eastern Bloc countries. Most of my family died in the Holocaust.

Part of the reason I am having trouble dealing with my anger is that it's such an alien and non-productive emotion for me. There is no logic to anger. It's corrosive and no healing comes of it unless it is channelled, forged, and by that forging, turned into something useful.

Where I need help is in turning the bitter acid of anger into something productive.

What angers me the most is the sheer self-centered-ness of my sister's actions: the number of people she's harming by going off her medications and starting to drink again. She's never truly quit drinking or drugging.

Oh, she goes "dry" for a while here and there, but she's still an addict with an addicts way of thinking, and now that she's gone off her medications, we get to add the damned bipolar to the rest of the mess. And, I have little patience for that as well.

She was stable on her medications for several years. I went through her bipolar with her when she was in her 20s and 30s, before I knew I was bipolar as well.

husband and I were constantly rescuing her from "situations" that her mania got her into. I have no intentions of rescuing her again. Her children, my niece and nephew, are adults with jobs and lives of their own. One has broken away from the enmeshment and is married and lives in Taiwan. The other has a good job and has just ended a long term relationship. She is still enmeshed with my sister, but seems to be pulling free finally.


Well-Known Member
The one piece of advice I came away from the meeting with was to "let go of my sister and place her in "God's" hands,

I tend to think as you do, that people who cast their fate to God's hands do no more or less than casting their fate to the wind. I can understand why this particular advice would be met unenthusiastically.

That being said, the advice is probably spot on. Let go of your sister and place her fate in her own hands. After all, you're not actively participating in her addiction. That's her choice. Love your sister, don't abandon your sister, and be sure to let her make her own decisions about her addiction and let her accept the consequences of those decisions. She's an adult. There is no other role for you in her life.

My sister was the same way with alcohol. I assume she is still the same way with alcohol. The life of the party until she got melancholy. Had a house and a job but was often not at work Friday for some big function and always called in sick on the following Monday. She's on her third marriage, and this time she settled for a much older man with health issues and plenty of family money. She and her addiction are poison and I won't have anything to do with her ever again in my life. If you find some redeeming feature in your sister, you should embrace that if you can without harm to yourself and your family.

Hope you find peace with her.


Well-Known Member
Programs like SMART most likely do not have a local face to face meetings for family in your area, but they do have online meetings for family and friends. Maybe worth checking? http://www.smartrecovery.org/community/calendar.php#.VRBFteEYOK0

We did find SMART a good extra resource concerning our son's addiction issues.

Of course also short term CBT could be helpful. Those 10 sessions methods tend to work well to these kind of issues.

And of course it is very possible that not all al-anon meetings on your area are so overtly religious.


Well-Known Member
I went to an Alanon meeting once and they all joined hands at the end and said the Lord's prayer. I was really surprised. It seemed like it would be very off-putting to anyone that was not a Christian. I never went back.

I have found private therapy very helpful.

See, I find this in conflict with what Al-Anon is supposed to be. I would never have stayed in a meeting that did not welcome everyone. But some areas are so highly Christian that everyone just assumes that's how everyone believes. It's too bad. The Al-Anon message is excellent. At the end of our meetings, we did all hold hands, but we said, "Keep coming back! It works, if you work it!"

In my Codependents Anonymous group in the Chicago area, we had Christians of all shapes, Jews, Buddhists and atheists and it was a great group. Maybe drew eighty people each time.


Crazy Cat Lady
MWM, this is one of those areas. Very white. Very Christian.

I received a call-back from the private Residential Treatment Center (RTC) this morning. They have meetings, but they are not under the Al-anon umbrella. They are run by religious leaders or returning clients, so I don't think they are for me.

The nearest meetings other than what are available to me in town are 40 miles away.

I think I'll do better to go back into therapy for a temporary "tune-up".

Meanwhile, I'll think I'll take my mum's advice on dealing with this, which is to tell my sister that I won't talk to her if she's "under the weather" and to "call back when she's feeling better." or something to that effect. I can't pull of the euphamisms quite as well.

I think it takes a British accent to do so.

Meanwhile, I got a call from a collection agency from a pay-day loan place because she put me down as a "reference" on a loan that she hasn't been paying on.

That was a rather rude awakening as they called at 8AM sharp and I stay up very late and get up late. They weren't very pleasant on the phone, but neither was I.

They can't do anything legally to me and I told them not to call me again, period, so that should take care of it.

It does sound like the wheels are in the process of coming off, which saddens me, though.


Crazy Cat Lady
LOL, nlj! My mum has been in this country since 1958 and got her citizenship in 1963.

I don't even hear what's left of her accent anymore, but people meeting her for the first time always ask her if she's from Australia, which makes her crazy.


Well-Known Member
I know where you live, GN. It's sort of the same here, but it's changing to becoming more diverse, however religion-wise it is still very Christian. You don't hear people saying they are atheists here and I know my Buddhist/New Age beliefs would be met with horror by many (shrug). I don't really care. But I do think a 12 Step Group should be sensitive to all. It is not a Christian group. It is a group that can and often does include everyone. No particular Higher Power is named...it is explained as something or someone that you rely on when too stressed out to put something on your own shoulders. One older lady, who was an atheist, considered her higher power to be the water. When overly stressed she'd go to the lake and sit and try to calm her mind. None of us ever criticized what one another found to calm us or believe. Most were probably CHristians. We did not pray in any religious way. We held hands to show support for one another and that was it. For such a large group (the Chicago one) we were VERY close and highly supportive and I truly learned how to let go of others and sometimes dare to put myself first. Before that group, in my mind if you EVER put yourself first, you were selfish.

How twisted is that sort of thinking??? I felt I had to suffer horribly to help other people, even if they didn't want to be helped and even if they were highly abusive to me. I would have made an excellent battered wife.


Crazy Cat Lady
MWM, I would think your area would be at least a little more diverse due to its proximity to the University.

I don't believe you have to have suffered to be able to help others, either. I did some net-searching earlier today, and there are meetings in Crandon, Three Rivers, Tomahawk, and Eagle River.

The open meetings are in the evening, the drives are at least 30 miles and along unlit, 2-lane roads. I have cataracts and poor night vision. Driving on those roads at night is a no-go for me.

There are a ton of AA and NA meetings, a lot of Alateen meetings, FA meetings, etc., but not many Al-anon meetings, and I fear that, at least in this area, the religious aspect is going to be an issue wherever I go.