Friday, March 19, 2010

Just Say No

I have a sponsee who came to Al-Anon because she wanted recovery. But she also wanted to know what to do if her loved one relapsed again. And she got to find out.

She was coming to my house to work a step. Her alcoholic had relapsed following a difficult discussion she had with him. Just as she was pulling into my driveway, he texted her.

"I want to quit drinking," it said.

She saw it as a sign from God that she got this message as she arrived at my house.

"What should I say?" she wanted to know.

"Say 'Good,' 'I'm glad,' or something else supportive," I said.

"What should I do?" she wondered.

"Nothing," I said.



"What if he's drunk and can't drive?"

"I'm sure he'll figure something out."

"What if he wants to go to a meeting?"

"He can call someone in AA. That's what AAs do. They pick people up and take them to meetings."

"What if he doesn't have anyone's number."

"AA has a 24-hour information line, just like Al-Anon."

"Where can I find it?"

"It's online. Does he have a computer?"


"Then I'm sure he can find it."

She told me she had a conversation with his boss. She told him her loved one was drinking. She was sure she had done the right thing. I shook my head.



"Why not?"

"Because it's none of your business."

"But I wanted her to understand. So he wouldn't get in trouble."

"If he got in trouble, that would be a natural consequence of his drinking, wouldn't it?"

"But she called me. She asked my why he hadn't been to work. What was I supposed to say?"

"Say, I think you should talk to him."

"Oh." She thought for a moment.

"So, normally when this happens, he would come over to my house for a couple of days," she said after a minute.

"Do you want him to come over?" I asked.

"No," she admitted.

"Then don't do it." I said. "Just say no."

A smile spread across her face as she started to understand.

I shared with her about a recent morning's reading. I read all three daily readers, and I can't remember which one it was. There was one line that really stood out for me.

"I will leave the alcoholic to the alcoholics."

That was a hard lesson to learn. It didn't seem fair that my daughter would listen to someone else who had been saying what I had been trying to tell her for years. But the truth is, she simply didn't hear me.

I had to leave her to the alcoholics and addicts. I had to get out of the way. I had to stop putting a pillow between her and the consequences of her actions.

But that didn't mean there was nothing I could do. I could help the families of other alcoholics and addicts. That's how I chose to spend my energies these days. Where it might do some good.

The next time I saw my sponsee, she was smiling. She looked genuinely happy. I asked how she was. "Life is good," she said.

Life is also good for me, these days. Hubby and I are on the way to the land where there is a closet that does not yet see have a cedar lining. It has my name on it.

I'll see you in a couple of days.

Meanwhile, take care.


  1. that's great, kathy. so true.

    saying no to those we love is so hard. i just wrote a post about that too funny enough :)

    i hope you enjoy your time out on the land. it sounds so peaceful~

  2. Good one. It takes awhile to get the understanding not to give power to the alcoholic or user. They have been so good at getting others to feel responsible for them. Nuts with that!
    Have a good time where you are going.

  3. I, too, read the line about leaving the alcoholic to the alcoholics. So true (for both me AND them). I gain serenity, and they're able to talk with someone who knows what they're going through. As much as I love them, I can't understand.

  4. Thanks for the "blow by blow" account of some great Black Belt Al-Anon. Have a good weekend!

  5. Kathy,

    i love how you presented her with other 'choices.'

    wow. lovely,

  6. Letting others feel consequences is hard at first, but so freeing. :)

    See you when you get back....


  7. What a terrific post. This is totally chocked full of Al-Anon. You are seeing the world through Al-Anon glasses and it shows.



  8. Thanks Kathy, great post. I've had a tough week, so this is a great reminder to keep my hands on my own program.

  9. How wonderful it is to see that AHA moment when the lesson is understood. And the freedom. I remember. It is still tough sometimes to not want to "help" just a little but that is why my butt is in meetings and my days start with prayer and meditation. Have a safe journey.


  10. Have a relaxing time!
    "But that didn't mean there was nothing I could do. I could help the families of other alcoholics and addicts. That's how I chose to spend my energies these days. Where it might do some good."
    TONS of good! Besides everything you do "in person" where you live, you have helped us online tremendously! I am so appreciative :)
    Oh, great post! I've had the same conversations (me in the sponsee's shoes...)... and then the light bulb goes on :)
    God bless.

  11. Great post, Kathy. No is one of the first words we learn, one of the shortest in the english language and one of the hardest to say - even for those of us who do not have an alcoholic in our lives.

  12. This post is so true for other things as well!! Love it!!

  13. I remember the first time my husband told me he wanted to quit drinking, it was my birthday, and I believed every word he said, and thanked God for that... How little I knew... : )
    Good post