Did Ally McBeal go to Al Anon?

I’ve been down this road walking the line that is painted by pride.  I’ve made mistakes in my life that I just can’t hide.  I believe I am ready for what love has to bring.  I got myself together and now I am ready to sing.

I’ve been searching my soul tonight.  I know there’s so much more to life.  Now I know I can shine the light to find my way back home.

One by one the chains around me unwind.  Every day now I feel that I can leave those years behind.  oh I’ve been thinking of you for a long time.  There’s a side of my life where I’ve been blind….”    (Searchin My Soul by Vonda Shepard).

I think it’s been twenty years since I watched the Ally McBeal show on TV.  I have hardly ever watched much TV, but I watched that.  It wasn’t until recently that I was reminded of the show, and so I watched an episode or two.  And I cried.  Not because the show was sad.  She was me and I was her.  She was smart but insecure.  She was successful yet uncomfortable in her skin.  No wonder I watched the show.

Too bad we couldn’t bring back the cast and do a 2019 version of the show.  I could tell them what Ally would be like now.  Ally could go to Al Anon meetings.  Ally could teach her kid how to break the cycle of the family disease.  Ally could heal.  Ally could rest easy.



Who is an alcoholic?

There are high functioning alcoholics all around us.  They continue daily work, in even the highest types of professional positions, while managing an addiction.  Their ability to appear “normal” allows their condition to be overlooked for a long time, or even through their own death.

A former employee of mine saw patients everyday in a medical office.  The patients loved her, and requested her for care.  She treated their chronic conditions and acute illnesses with care.  Her clinical notes were thorough, accurate, and professional.   Employees around her were glad she joined the team.

My ex-husband managed people successfully at work.  He never drank during work hours or when our child had school functions.  He didn’t cross paths with the law or get into any altercations.

A friend of mine traveled all over the world for work and continued to get large monetary increases in salary.  She had a husband and two kids and appeared quite successful.

All three of these people are alcoholics.  What do they have in common other than being “hidden”  from suspecting eyes and being professionally successful?

They, and others, use alcohol as a coping mechanism.  In many cases, it is trying to cope with a feeling of “less than.”  Social anxiety, depression, stress, and generalized anxiety are what drove many to alcohol use and eventually to alcoholism.

The people closest to them, typically those that live with them, know the reality.  They worry about them, and worry, and get angry, and get sad, and get frustrated, and get sad, and (repeat, repeat).  It’s a family disease because families walk on egg shell;, they take emotional rollercoaster rides; they get treated to many periods of silence; they have many things that they have said or done forgotten, because the alcoholic was drunk originally.  The list goes on and on.

Typically, they (the alcoholics) become more and more selfish and more and more isolated over time.  Their actions and decisions seem immature emotionally and while they are ashamed of their condition, they build a wall of protection, or even a bubble as my ex did.  And they drink more, and perhaps hide it more.

How does it stop or does it ever?

Nobody can make another person stop drinking.  NOBODY.  I repeat….nobody.  It doesn’t matter if the alcoholic knows that he/she is hurting the family.  It’s not that they want to, but  they can rationalize it away.  Ultimatums do not work….at least not long term.  Some may cave temporarily, but it never works in the end.

The successful and sober alcoholic is one that made the decision for himself/herself that it was time.  Many have said that it takes hitting an absolute rock bottom place to make that decision.  In my ex-husband’s case, he wasn’t ready.  It was/is a parasite within him that has not been ready to leave.  While he tried rehab, he didn’t follow instructions from the moment he departed the building.

In my former employee’s case, she was caught with a lot of empty alcohol bottles in her office at work, and she seemed relieved to no longer have to keep up the façade.  She entered detox/rehab right away.  She fell off once and is clean again for six months.  An incident forced the change, and only she knows if she is truly ready to be done.

My friend’s body started failing her.  It was scary.  She was fine mentally, but her body started losing functionality.  She made the decision to live, to fix her body by giving up drinking.  She is now three years sober.

Sadly, many alcoholics drink their entire lives.  They often die younger than others with heart attacks or sudden deaths, or even the obvious one…cirrhosis.

They walk among us.  While the word alcoholic carries a stereotype look (or even smell), it is not the case with many.  They are our friends, neighbors, doctors, teachers, and even clergy.  There are no socioeconomic boundaries.  The parasite can live in anyone who tried alcohol as a coping mechanism and then continued to use it until it overtook their power to quit.



He says she’s his highest priority but he’s not walking the talk

My former spouse and I had one child, a very beautiful, smart, witty and caring young lady.  We are so blessed to have her.  She is currently a freshman in high school.

When I first started speaking to my ex about dissolution, he just felt like it would crush her.  His own parent’s divorce took a toll on him, so he felt adamant that she would struggle similarly.  I have not found that to be the case.  She seems to have blossomed with a sense of freedom and relief.

Unfortunately, she does not look forward to time with her dad.  While she loves him, she is in a typical 14 year old mind set and he is still drinking.  As a result, he is still self-centered and isolated.  In addition, he is holding steady at the maturity level he was when he first started drinking…..and so she often thinks she is more mature than him.

Early after our divorce, he just spent money.  Likely, he felt possessions would make him happy.  She watched that and just shook her head.  Perhaps if he would have bought something for her, he would have simmered her down a little, but he didn’t give much thought to that.

Just three months after our dissolution, he starts dating a lady he met online.  After just a few short weeks,  he wants to introduce her to our daughter.  I talk him out of it, thank goodness.   After seeing her pictures on Facebook, I knew my daughter would not be pleased.  She and I both are somewhat conservative, and the new girlfriend looked like she had quite a wild side.  I remember telling my ex that he should suggest to the new girlfriend that she make her profile private instead of public, and he didn’t see anything wrong with her page.

Fast forward a couple months and the girlfriend gets “crazy,” so they split ways.  Ironically, my daughter shared “well she had self divulged that she was crazy, I guess it took him a while to figure it out.”   After the fact, the ex admits that he must have been blinded by the need for physical activity.  She was an alcoholic too, not surprising.  I’m sure they had great fun.  Too bad there were nights when he cancelled out on his time with our daughter because of the girlfriend.  It’s a shame that my daughter realized it….and then over time became grateful for the cancellations.

After girlfriend #1, it doesn’t take long for girlfriend #2.  They had been dating about a month, and our daughter was getting ready for her first Homecoming Dance.  The ex asks me if his new girlfriend can be there for pictures.  I suggested that he ask our daughter.  Our daughter thinks that there is no sensible woman in the world that is gonna meet her for the first time with the ex-wife and ex in-laws present, so she tells her dad “I don’t care.”  Even I think there is no way that she would want to be there even if he doesn’t realize its a stupid idea.   Guess what?  She’s there at pictures.  It should have been a great occasion for my daughter.  It was her night.  It should have been about her…… yet he continues to say that our daughter is his highest priority.

Recently, when he comes to pick her up for one of his days, he tells me that our daughter isn’t real excited to spend the day with him and his girlfriend.  I take the opportunity to tell him:  “she isn’t real comfortable with us dating yet.”  And he says……..wanna guess?……it’s certainly not empathetic…..he says “well I am.”

I recognize that parents should not let their kids make decisions for them.  It’s a fine line I walk in sensitive times.  Here is what I don’t understand:  If his time with our daughter is limited, why can’t he just spend time with her alone?  Or if it is just the two of them, why doesn’t he plan an activity instead of napping or watching something on TV that he wants to watch?

And then I answer myself…he’s an alcoholic.  I can’t change him.  He can’t get out of his own head the “how and where” the next drink will get taken.  He remains on a mission for his own happiness and without the ability to put himself in anyone else’s shoes.  No lie!  One time I asked him what it would feel like to be in her shoes and he honestly couldn’t figure it out or understand what I meant.

So, he knows that single dads should make their kids a high priority.  He knows that’s the right thing to say.  He probably even wants to do that, but he has no idea what it means or how to think of anyone other than himself first.  To those that try to give him honest feedback or suggestions, he finds resentment.  It’s very sad.  I still pray for his recovery so that she can have a relationship someday with her dad that feels “normal.”


When you need to complain, who do you complain to?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times…….”only vent up.”  In the business world, I taught many leadership courses and mentored developing managers.  This is one of the rules for professionalism that I learned early and did my best to follow personally, as well as to teach it to others.  After all, nobody likes to overhear those water cooler bitching sessions about new policies, other employees, or even management.  If you do like to hear them or get involved in them, reassess your situation.  You might be a negative ninja.

This week, I started to think about “venting” in the personal environment and if similar rules apply.

When I was married to the isolated alcoholic, his venting came only to me, and most of mine (if it was personal) went to him.  Wow….does that help or hurt a relationship?  I can certainly understand that the last thing anyone wants to hear is a bunch of bitching all the time.  My alcoholic didn’t share frequently, but I know I certainly pointed out his negativity to him on more than one occasion.  Should I have?  Or did he need to get it out, and I was the only person who could hear it?

Without realizing, it seems that I have transferred my “vents” to my mother.  I wonder if instinctually, I’m following that rule about venting up?  Is a parent in a personal life like a boss in a professional life?  I’m not sure I have an answer, but I have come to understand that nobody, whether it be your boss or your mom, wants to hear it.  The exception in my mind is that already negative/bitter people may enjoy someone commiserating with them.  Hmmm….  Either way, it really doesn’t do any good.  Rather, just a waste of time and negative energy.

Honestly, I thought I was doing well at being positive despite the craziness of my life the last 12 months.  I have vowed not to ever speak poorly about my ex husband to my daughter, or even in a place where she can hear it.  So far, I think I’ve achieved that goal, which is really important to me.  As a child of divorced parents, it hurt me deeply if I heard anything like this (even if warranted),  I don’t want to inflict that on my child.

What I have witnessed in Al-Anon, is that the majority of members are willing to hear the vents of other members without judgement and also while trying to support them.  The organization and it’s members are important in the healing process for anyone who loves or loved an alcoholic.  The twelve steps, if coached and followed, should help a person to find their own shortcomings and also have less to vent about.  Luckily, Al-Anon meetings are inclusive of people who need to vent as well as others who can listen and help redirect.

If there is somebody negative in your life, do you tend to be more negative when you are around them? Do they bring you down or do you challenge them to find positive alternative solutions?  I think it’s possible to do both, depending on the person or situation.

I can’t say I am offering solutions in this blog, but I hope through my own reflection sharing,  I have encouraged any of you to reflect on the same.  For myself, I’ve decided I might need to give more to God instead of others in my life.  I’ll be more cautious about what I vocalize.  God is willing to listen and take it all.  Our family members, who are close to us, don’t deserve the worst of us.



Yes, I love you, but I’m not in Love.

That particular visit to see my husband in rehab was one that I won’t ever forget.

He was a completely different person.  He had been humbled.  His soul was desperate for love, support, rebirth, and warmth.  He wanted to be as close to me as he could.  He wanted to shower me with affection.  He wanted physical embraces.  He wanted to tell me how wonderful, beautiful, and spectacular I was.

I was cautious, but I’m thinking I may have been different than most spouses in this situation.  I mean….isn’t this the person we have been waiting for and wanting?  He was apologizing and talking enthusiastically about our first date after he was discharged.  In my mind, I was thinking that it was too good to be true and that it was temporary.  I had detached in such a weird way.  When he told me a month prior that he was going to admit himself, I was grateful for his desire to get well, but I wasn’t sure he was doing it for the right reasons.  From all that I had learned, he needed to be doing it for himself, and I felt like he was doing it for me and our marriage.

Torn.  So torn.  He shed many tears that day and so did I.  It was an intense emotional situation, from all that he had gone through in those prior days.  Honestly, it was likely stemming from all we had both gone through for so long.

He sensed my hesitation.  He said, “do you love me?”

My mind flashed back to a conversation we had had a few weeks prior in our bedroom.  I had told him that no matter how hard it may be, that I was going to be completely honest with my feelings.   And so there I was……being asked a question I needed to answer.

“I love you, but I am not in love with you.”  That was my honest answer.

I don’t know if it was the right thing to say or not, but it was the truth.  And with that, I cried more.

And I cry now just typing it.



Waiting, How Long?

Waiting, Patience is a virtue

Waiting, Anticipation stirs

Waiting, Outcome unknown

Waiting, Requires faith

Waiting, For an answer

Waiting, Builds dreams

Waiting, Eats at you

Waiting, For a sign

Waiting, With a secret

Waiting, While I age

Waiting, Is worth it?

Waiting, Quietly unknown

Waiting., With a hope

Waiting, Without a line

Waiting, Full of fear

Waiting, Happily

Waiting, With a smile

Waiting, Near to tears

Waiting, While I sleep

Waiting, For love

Waiting and waiting and waiting


One Day…….

One Blessed Day at a time

God is good.

No harm in waiting.