I attended my first ever Al-anon meeting last night. I have very mixed feelings about it. I am supposed to attend 6 beginner meetings before I make a decision if the program is right for me. After we went over the basic "business" of the meeting, they broke out the "beginners", there were 4 of us. A long time al-anoner explained her story to us, child of an alcoholic, married an alcoholic, etc., and then she explained the program. I liked her but she was mousy.
She then gave an opportunity to share. Me, being the timid little mouse that I am, offered to share first. I advised them, that they should let me know when they had heard enough as I liked to talk and love having the "spotlight". The woman next to me kept shaking her head in agreement as I spoke. When it was her turn, she shared that she also has a drug addicted son. Crack-cocaine is his DOC. She is a classic enabler. She needs help. The next woman was 30, she was adorable, she looked 23. Her husband was in a 28 day program detoxing from alcohol. His alcoholism led him to get physical with her and that was the straw that broke the camels back. The last one to share, was embarrassed to tell her mild story, after hearing our horror stories. Her husband of 2 years has been clean and sober for 17 years. She didn't know him when he was drinking, she is just trying to gain some insight into the disease. She was very sweet.
During the break we were given beginners packets which included literature and pre-printed phone lists. There was also literature available for purchase and pamphlets. I stayed for the second half of the meeting and the topic was unacceptable behavior. One lady shared about her drug addicted twin sons, one got clean and got his act together, the other did not. OK, I was feeling good, that was three mothers of addicts in the room. Things were looking up for me. A few others shared about their husbands alcoholic behaviors, and another started babbling about her best friend who takes advantage of her. There was no mention of drugs or alcohol. I think she may have been a co-dependent type who was working this program because there doesn't seem to be a CODA group near us. I hate to say it, but she annoyed me. Alot. I know I won't like everyone, and I know I don't walk in her shoes, or know what her struggles are, but she was awfully upset and carrying on about her friend asking her to babysit every weekend and her inability to say no.
I believe I may have made a new friend in the other beginner Mom with the crackhead son. We had a lot in common. We live near each other, we exchanged phone numbers and decided to try another beginners meeting at a different group on Sunday night. I was feeling quite sad over the weekend about how few friends I have these days. It seems my old friends are moving forward with their lives and I am stuck here in this loop of pain. I also have been feeling as though I have no opportunities to make new friends in my life and didn't expect this to happen.
Ok, so now, here is where I feel like a total nutcase. Is it weird that I like the NA meetings better? The NA people were grittier. I felt more comfortable with them. There are no "pre-printed" phone lists, they passed around a meeting list and hand wrote their names and numbers. When we introduced ourselves at Al-anon, you only give your name, not why you are there. There was less hugging. They stressed the anonymity thing repeatedly. I was more nervous walking into Al-anon than I was at NA. It's funny Scout recently shared some pics of her home group, it was pretty run down, however the NA home group that I was attending with the Prince could have been the long lost twin cousin of her place. The meetings are in a tiny dingy, dirty, smelly room in the basement of a church. Paint peeling from the walls. Mismatched chairs, wobbly tables and crowded to the hilts. I loved it. Last night the meeting was held at a Catholic School cafeteria. It was very nice. Very roomy. the tables and chairs all matched. There was no strange odor. The coffee was instant. I did not feel totally at home. They closed with the "Our Father" rather than the Serenity Prayer. I was not too comfortable with that. I am trying to embrace a higher power, but I am not sure it will be the G-d of my catholic upbringing.