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Al-Anon Wrecked My Marriage
Erie, PA Ala-Cult

March 3rd, 2005

Hi, I'm Bill and I'm an alcoholic/addict. First drunk at 13, last at 23 years of age. No drunkalog needed here, if you heard my lead you'd know I qualify. I'm 45 now, last drink October 11, 1983. I went to about half a dozen AA meetings, went to a counselor once who thought I had a sexual relationship with my sister (not!), and a lot of self examination taught me that a drink of alcohol for me is about as healthy as a glass of cyanide.

Fast forward now. With sobriety got a job, married a nice girl, went to medical school, internship and residency. Had 2 kids, moved around a lot to get training in a very competitive subspecialty, ophthalmology. Would occasionally pop into an AA meeting every few years if needed.

Finished training June 30, 1997. First real job was working for an abusive nut who's since stopped practicing, for 1 and 2/3 years. Lots of emotional and financial strife. Found a great job in another state with a medical school, a golden opportunity.

We moved here in August of 1999. Above former employer nut sends poison pen letters to new employer, hospitals, and state licensing boards, all of which are ignored. We are in litigation against each other, lawyers drag it out so the fees are $33k for me, $60k for him, “you'd better settle or you'll have to pay his bills”-end of story.

This “settlement” occurs the same week as 9/11 (I'm from NY), and I have a patient with a terrible outcome after surgery (with a lot of prayer and good treatment from me she now can see to read and drive a car with that eye). These 3 stressors at once cause me to seek help from my family physician (a twelve stepper himself) who says, “When was the last time you went to an AA meeting?”

So I went back to AA and it did help me. But unfortunately my wife went to Al-Anon because she was upset with her alcoholic father.

She met lots of nice people there. They become very close. Almost all of her friends now are in Al-Anon. She spends thousands of hours on the phone with them. She became cold and distant, started attending daily meetings, to the exclusion of family activities. She became totally immersed in their culture, reading and highlighting dozens of their texts, spouting psychobabble, “you have to take responsibility for your actions, let go and let god,” etc.

She became very territorial, possessive, and reclusive. Any issue concerning the children she would automatically take an opposite opinion even if it was nonsensical “he can't clean his room now I told him to play on the computer!” She began to make financial decisions involving “our money” against my wishes. She opens her own checking account. By the way she has complete control over my assets, because her part time job is self-employed financial writer. All I am getting out of this marriage is clean clothes.

Any observation I made on any issue was “criticism”. Any advice or input was “controlling”. Any verbal argument was “abuse”.

I went to talk to her one month ago in her “office” (one of our bedrooms) about something innocuous and pleasant, like what time to pick one of the kids after school. She physically pushed me out of the room because I was not fully clothed, “this is a place of business!” It's OK for the kids to lie around in there for hours on end.

I snapped. I wrote a note saying goodbye, slept on my office floor for 2 nights, and decomposed.

I'm the oldest of 5 siblings.

On September 6, 2003 my youngest brother blew his brains out after meeting his wife's new boyfriend.

One month later my sister's husband informed her of 6 different affairs in the past 2 years leading to divorce.

Last March 2004 I drove 12 hours to put my remaining suicidal and homicidal divorcing brother in a mental hospital for a week. We had this brother living with us for 3 months, a very unpleasant experience. I paid for him to get therapy every week, the therapist told me “I don't know how to say this but your brother is the most negative person I've ever met”.

My other sister is a methamphetamine addict, we don't know if she is dead or alive.

All of the above have at least 2 children from their former marriages, some with life threatening disease.

On the 3rd day away from home (a Saturday) I was lying on my office floor sobbing and screaming. I very quickly got to where my brothers heads were at the end. I went home.

We went to a marriage counselor. He told me “I've seen this before, your wife is on a white knuckled journey to find herself. It usually doesn't end well. She will be very difficult to live with for a long time. How long can you take it?” I replied that on an altar I swore to stand by her in sickness and in health, i.e. forever. We've been married 19 and 1/2 years.

I asked her “what do you really want?” - peace.

“If you had peace what would you want” - I want to be the best (her name) I can be, a new (her name) who is not someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's mother, or someone's wife.

Last week her car died. She wants a minivan like all her friends (I like cars, better gas mileage and handling). She goes out and finds the minivan of her dreams and presents the checks and loans for me to sign.

All I want in return is an answer and some reassurance, with a yes or no.

“Do you want to stay married to me”- I'm not answering that.

Second try, same question - We're seeing a marriage counselor aren't we?

Third try, same question - Yes I'm trying

I signed the checks, but also told her no more direct deposit of my income, and we need to meet regularly to make mutual decisions regarding our money.

The next day she calls me while I'm out to dinner with some colleagues. She took some money and the cats, grabbed the kids after school, and split to a hotel. Fortunately the older boy (15) refused to stay with her.

She's turned the younger one (12) against me. He's probably in hog heaven right now watching all the TV he wants and swimming in the hotel pool. She bought the kids cell phones so she can chat with them away from me.

I went by the hotel last night (she volunteered where she was in her phone call), looking for a ski pass for the older boy that was missing. I also wanted to see my younger son and the cats. She came outside and very coldly informed me I was not allowed inside to see my son or the animals. I said I would inform the hotel not to bill my credit card for her room. I went to the desk.

They were ready. I didn't make a scene. They lied and said no such guest was registered. Then 2 large men told me to leave the property. I complied and let the air out of “our” new minivan's tires. After all if she wasn't staying in the hotel the van wasn't really there either right?

So now I'm sitting in a half empty house with tears on the keyboard. The state police are calling me, can I go to jail for letting air out of the tires of my own vehicle that was not there?

Over the past week several people have told me they went to Al-Anon here in Erie, and were frightened away by the cultist atmosphere.

I have been to one Al-Anon meeting with my wife, the day after I came home. In contrast to AA, I was struck by how uniformly self-centered and spiteful the people in attendance were.

The topic was how to make amends. One lady said “First of all I need to make a big amend to myself. I beat that little girl to death over many years, so I need to give myself a big amend”.

I was shocked. I thought this old crone had just gotten out of prison. My wife informed me that when she went out to lunch afterward (I was not invited, I had to work) with all the regulars they had a big laugh over it. You see, she had killed the little girl within her soul.

You are probably wondering, what did this guy do to her to deserve all this?

I recommended she try Al-Anon, and she was vulnerable.

I have never struck this woman, though she can't say the same. I have turned every cent I made since we married over to her care. I have never cheated on her. And I have been clean and sober since October 11, 1983.

I still love her and hope she comes back, but things look pretty dismal from here. I see what this is doing to the children and feel totally hopeless. This was “what happened to other people”. We are Catholics, but now she worships at the Altar of Al-Anon (mass conflicts with the Sunday,Al-Anon meetings).

I don't believe in the “dry drunk” anymore. I know now that 12 step programs can be taken to an extreme, and ruin the lives they claim to save.

Thanks for listening, caveat emptor.

Bill C