From a very young age, I assumed that if I could just get my mom to stop being so angry at my dad, then all would be well in my world. This was when my chaotic scavenger hunt started. I figured out how to tell time by the age of five years old, but not through traditional grammar school education. Instead, it was through the cold dinners left uneaten as my sister and I sat at the dinner table and watched our mother come to a full boil the moment the jangling of the keys opened the kitchen door and our dad stumbled in.
I would get that pit‑in‑the‑stomach feeling and head straight to the sink to rid myself of the gnawing nausea, hoping—unknowingly at that time—to divert her anger from my dad, and to unite them to aid their child. And it worked for a long time. As I got older, the hunt for peace in the home got trickier because I could only feign illness for just so long. So, I became a gabber, a juvenile negotiator. I became gifted in the craft of storytelling just to distract from the obvious fact that my dad was drunk, and my mother was angry.
As a teenager, I found myself immersed in the world of poetry, high school theater, and art, which delivered me from the secret that suffo‑cated me in our small urban apartment, or so I thought. But good grades, poetry accolades, best actress awards, and my art only numbed the reality of living with active alcoholism. When I finally left my parents’ home and got married, I thought surely life would settle down, and that pit‑in‑the‑stomach feeling would finally go away. However, after leaving that marriage, I got a startling revelation when I started going to Al‑Anon—wherever I went, there I was. I was the common denominator in my life. The first time I heard the eye‑opening‑words in the slogan, “Let It Begin with Me,” I knew I had finally found my way out of my chaotic scavenger hunt and was at the start of my journey to serenity.
By Sandi G., Florida
The Forum, November 2019
Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters., Inc., Virginia Beach, VA