Recovery in Al-Anon, I mean. There’s a well-established recovery genre for addicts and alcoholics. These books tend to be organized in the same way:
There is the pre-recovery period in which the alcoholic or addict faithfully recounts his or her misdeeds and tragedies, and how those misdeeds ruined his or her life.
Then there is a turning point. Sometimes this occurs as a single incident in which the bolt of lightening strikes. More often, as in life, there are a series of incidents in which the light begins to dawn.
The balance of the book chronicles the addict/alcoholic’s recovery. Slow and halting at first, then gaining momentum until the addict’s life is transformed.
These books are terribly appealing, particularly to those of us who have loved ones who suffer from addiction, because they are about redemption. They tell us that change is possible. They give us hope.
Now, you might argue that there is also a whole genre of books written by parents of addicts and alcoholics, and I would agree with you. I just don’t see a lot of recovery in them.
These books also tend to be organized along the same lines. There is the recounting of the addict/alcoholic’s misdeeds. This portion of the book includes the dawning of awareness that there is a problem.
The devastation to the family is recounted in great detail, along with the heroic efforts of the parents to save their child.
Sometimes, the parents find Al-Anon, Naranon or some other support group. They recount feeling understood for perhaps the first time. There is comfort. But there is little change on the part of the parent.
If there is a turning point in the disease, the change occurs in the addict/alcoholic. The redemption at the end does not belong to the parent, but the addict. In the end, the parents’ lives are restored, not because they changed, but because their addict did.
Does that strike anyone but me as the very definition of codependency?
From beginning to end, the focus is not on the parent, but on the addict.
Where’s the recovery in that?
I’d like to read a book in which the change happens in the parents. Where they stop seeing themselves as victims or heroes, but flawed human beings who play a part in their own drama.
I’d like to read a book in which the turning point occurs when the parents see their own part, change their own behavior and chronicle in detail the positive effects that has on the rest of the family, the addict included.
I’d like to read a book where the transformation and redemption belongs to the parents. Where the victory is theirs.
Now that would be a book about recovery.