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Sunday, September 8, 2013

What My Father Taught Me

I've been having a difficult time finding a meeting that fits my crazy life. With a husband who's schedule is ever changing and my kid's school, sports, homework, it's just been tough but I am determined to make 1 meeting a week. I have been to 3 different meetings now and after my second meeting a nice, older man approached me to welcome me and share a little of his story. He wanted me to know the peace Al Anon has brought him throughout his years of attending and hoped I would continue going to meetings. He also suggested that I attend an ACA meeting, Adult Children of Alcoholics, which I had never heard of before. The next day I tried to organize the week ahead then went to my computer to check the Al Anon schedule and see if I could squeeze in a meeting somewhere. It just so happens that the only meeting I would be able to attend was an ACA meeting. I couldn't believe it! I definitely think it was meant to be. As I drove to the meeting I felt confident. Sure I had never been to this meeting before so there were some nerves involved meeting knew people and opening up to "strangers" but it was my 3rd meeting and I had been there, done that so I was anxiety free this time. I walked into the beautiful church and found the room that held the meeting. There were at least 40 people sitting in a circle. It was the most diverse meeting I had been to.  I'd say the age range was mid 20's to early 70's. With all these different types of people we were all there for the same reason, all of our parents were alcoholics &/or addicts. This was also the first meeting where there was a Chair. The Chair, to my knowledge, is someone who attends a particular meeting regularly and they are to lead the conversation. The Chair is to tell whatever part of their experiances they are comfortable sharing and then come up with the topic for the evening. This person, who I will call Mark, was an older man who was extremely successful in his career. He was attractive, educated, and seemed completely put together and here he was talking about his "daddy issues". It really shows that the damages left by alcoholics/addicts can affect anyone and the damage will live on inside you unless you take the steps to repair your soul. I listened as Mark spoke about life as a child with an alcoholic father, he discussed the hardships but also shared what his father taught him and because of those lessons he is the person he is today. The topic came in the form of a question. Mark asked everyone in that room "What did your father teach you?" Mark asked us to think about it as something you gained from having a life with an alcoholic/addict father. For whatever reason, I wasn't expecting that. I don't know what I was expecting really but this was such a positive spin on a dark topic. I instantly began to think of what my father taught me. "Ok he taught me the prayer "Now I lay me down to sleep...", he gave me the gift of creativity (He's an amazing artist), and humor can sometimes get you through tough times." Listening to others share their lessons learned, I found that I could relate to every one of them somehow. I had my hand over my heart listening.  My eyes began to well up. I couldn't control myself. When it came to my time to share I didn't feel like I made a complete sentence. The tears were following and it seemed to take a lot of energy to speak one word. I was struggling to translate thoughts into words because this topic actually related to that exact day in my life. What I hope the people heard through my tearful, broken up words was "Thank you Mark for sharing and for the powerful question!" I then looked around the circle and said "I feel like I can relate to everyone of your stories. I would say the most important thing I learned from having an alcoholic father was what kind of man I wanted for my husband. I knew at a very young age that I wanted to marry someone who would be a great father, a present father. Not having a father figure that was there for all of my life events, both big and small, was difficult (to say the least) so I knew I would do what I could to make sure my children never experienced that kind of pain. As far back as junior high, when I "dated" a guy which at that age meant talk on the phone but not a school because you were too shy and never really going on a date just crushing on each other, I would think of the life I would have with him and more importantly what kind of life would my future children have with him. That's kind of heavy for that age when most girls are just dreaming of a wedding, the big white dress, the fairy tale,  I was dreaming of a father for my unborn children. Every date I have ever been on I imagined what kind of father that man would be and the answer would determine if I went on a second date with him or not." I began to sob at this point with the realization that I did in fact give my children the father I always dreamed for them . I continued "Earlier today I watched my husband teach our son how to ride his bike without training wheels. Instead of me really embracing that moment when my husband was bonding with my son, teaching him how to ride his bike, I questioned him on his teaching technique. I told him he was too hard on our son. I was, of course, cheering on our son and taking pictures but at the same time nagging at my husband. What was I doing!?!" There is truth to sometimes you don't see what is right in front of you. I was focusing on what he wasn't doing (in my opinion) verses what he was doing. The reality of that truly hurt my heart. I told the room I was really hard on my husband. Sure there are times he deserves it :) But not always. Maybe it's my fear of abandonment which causes me to prepare for him to leave so maybe I can help push him out the door??? Maybe it's the fact that in a sick way I am most comfortable in the chaos, drama, being a victim because dammit I am a victim, BUT I can not live a healthy and happy life that way. This meeting helped me see that. I literally have everything I have ever wanted in the man I married but instead of seeing that I tend to focus on the bad which will lead to a looonnnnnggggg unhappy marriage til death do us part! I don't want to sound like I never show my appreciation  for what I have because I do however I think I need to spend a little more time appreciating what I have. After the meeting I was given a list of numbers to all the members that attend the meeting if I ever just need someone to talk to and I had a lot of people hugging me, saying they understood me. Tears literally never stopped rolling down my cheeks. It was a constant flow and I was embarrassed by my emotions but everyone there understood the hurt one feels when you are healing. The pain was both good and bad but I needed to feel all of it. I walked quickly to my car where I sat in the dark parking lot for at least 10 mins sobbing. I mean the ugly cry. Loud, snot, tears, even a little talking to myself! I drove home knowing I was suppose to be at that meeting, that night! I hope to make that my go-to meeting but again with my schedule I might not make it every week but I have to promise myself to find time for me. It's, at most, 2 hours out of the week to better myself and sometimes bettering myself will hurt like hell but that's ok. I'm ready and willing. You better believe I walked into my house that night and hugged my husband tighter than I had ever hugged him before and I apologized for my actions that day. I'm thankful for him. So, my father taught me what I wanted out of a life partner so thank you Dad.