My Anxiety About Tonight

February 9, 2011

Tonight is supposed to be my first Al-anon meeting.

I’ve been planning to attend for some time now and was all set to try it out. I did everything I could to prepare for this. I chose an evening and location that worked for me. I read the welcome information to get a sense of how it works. I felt good about all of it. I was actually excited at the thought of addressing my recent feelings. I hoped to overcome all the turmoil brought back into my life over the last few months by a family member who has a serious addiction.

It isn’t like I have never sought help or support to deal with this issue before. I have been in therapy since I was 14 years old and over the years have embraced individual therapy sessions as well as group processes to help “reset my compass”. I have missed out on so much of the love and support that most people get from their families that I constantly question my direction in every aspect of my life. Even when I am succeeding, I can still hear the voices of my past telling me that I’ll never get it right enough and that I’ll never be good enough.

It’s a horrible way to live. I couldn’t survive another day if I didn’t keep “resetting my compass”. Over the years, I have paid a therapist to do what many people trust their families to do – to ask important questions, be there to listen without judgement, to validate my strengths and to challenge my insecurities before they take over and cause me to doubt myself and everything I have worked so hard for. A therapy session helps to keep me on the right path and heading in the right direction.

So I was surprised today when I started to develop some pretty serious anxiety about attending the Al-anon meeting for the first time. Each time I allowed myself to think about it, my heart would start to race and my breathing would become difficult. Just to give you a sense of how truly ridiculous my concerns are, I’ll share a few with you.

  • Too many people show up
  • Too few people show up
  • An opportunity to share
  • No opportunity to share
  • New information that may get me thinking
  • No new information and I leave feeling like I wasted my time
  • I run into someone I know
  • I won’t know anyone and how I wish I did
  • I’m worried my wall will come down and I’ll be vulnerable
  • I’m worried I won’t be able to let my wall down because it all hurts too much and becomes too real

Ironic how my thoughts gang up on me, despite the fact that they contradict each other. It’s no wonder I’m emotionally exhausted from all this. If ever a person needed this, it’s me. I know this because I can’t even bear to have the telephone with me during the day because I’m afraid it will ring and that I’ll get more bad news from home. On the one hand, I’m afraid I’ll hear confirmation that the alcoholic in my life is spending yet another day drinking their way into a vodka-fueled stupor. On the other hand, if they aren’t drinking, it could only mean they’ve been hauled away in the back of an ambulance. Those are pretty much the alcoholic’s options at this point.

And so, despite the 16 years of therapy I’ve had, I can so easily get sucked back into their world of chaos. I never stay for long, but I visit too frequently for my liking.

Nothing can be worse than what I’m dealing with right now. I have to believe it can get better. I need to go to this meeting.

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4 Responses to “My Anxiety About Tonight”

  1. David Says:

    I read this and my chest gets tight. It’s sad to read about things being hard for you and helpful because it lets me and my family know we arent alone. Hope you got something out of it and feel better.

  2. Onetiredmumandwife Says:

    I have been and its weird at first but then feels like people understand all the s&#$ you put up with.

  3. nataliejoan Says:

    Interested to know if you attended and how you felt about it. The idea of the meetings never appealed to me, but then neither did therapy, until one day out of the blue I knew I needed to go.


  4. I did attend my first meeting the night I wrote this post. I haven’t posted an update about it yet because my feelings are too mixed on the subject.

    Despite an awkward start and a lot of internal group business, I really enjoyed listening to their thoughts on the particular step they were discussing that night. I ended the night wanting to go back the next week…but didn’t.

    I think I will try another group to sort my feelings out. A few of the things I didn’t like may have had more to do with the group I attended than the actual al-anon program itself. I guess it boils down to just not really being a good fit for their group, despite the kindness and warmth they showed me.

    I had wanted to ask a friend to attend with me and in hindsight, I probably should have.


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