Not sure what I think about Al-Anon yet. It was interesting, seeing people all over the map. New people still very actively enabling, old timers still dealing with the loss of their innocence or relationships. I felt like I was in the middle. Also I'm not dealing with a spouse or child, which makes me want to say I don't have a serious problem to deal with.
Then again. When I was in sixth grade one of my paternal uncles killed himself as a result of addiction to alcohol and amphetamines, which I thought was my fault (there is dark humor in that story which I'll bring up some time). This was a man who learned to play (classical?) guitar in one day. He earned his MD and PhD concurrently, getting both awarded on the same day. A few years later I was a passenger in a truck when one of my maternal uncles sideswiped the on-ramp jersey barrier spilling his tall Bud all over the place, and a few months later forgot to set the parking brake at the boat ramp, nearly losing the truck. The truck rides were fun for a 12-14 year old, even if it meant standing in cold water and pushing the truck so the tires could get enough traction to pull it out of the water before submerging the carburetor. In college I lived with another drunken maternal uncle for a year, and learned to hide my car keys so he wouldn't drive my car when he was too drunk to drive his Ranchero. Like my paternal uncle, my maternal uncles were off the IQ charts. Didn't seem to help them with their lives.
My maternal grandfather died of liver cirrhosis when I was in high school. I'd never met him, and upon hearing the news didn't think it was excuse enough to avoid mowing the lawn.
My oldest maternal uncle, he of pickup truck fame, and was the only nice one of the siblings died when I was in my early thirties of ARDS
, a nice way of saying he got extremely bad pneumonia then suffocated as a result of chronic aspiration of his own vomit. He and everyone who knew him saw this passive suicide make it's inexorable march to completion.
Two of my cousins, one on each side of the family committed suicide in their 20's or early 30's, thanks mostly to their parent's issues with addiction. One by insulin shock, and the other I don't think I ever heard though it was more direct -- likely a gun or slit wrist.
My mother attempted suicide nearly five years ago, and ultimately I kept my promise to cut off contact in response to her manipulative suicide threats over the years, unless she went into therapy. I think it was an Attempt with a capital A, though closer than she'd planned on would be my guess.
My other two maternal uncles became so abusive to everyone, I stopped seeing them over twenty years ago, in 1984. Like my mother, I do not miss them a whit and am finally getting to a point where I can remember the positive impacts they had on my life. What a wicked combination for them, alcoholic father, extremely abusive mother, and IQ's starting at over 145. People with high IQ's are often at a social disadvantage, and the other circumstances in their lives certainly exacerbated any dysfunctional tendencies they may have had.
I don't care if my at-risk-now-person lives or dies, except for how it will affect their children. They've sent out the vague suicide hints, I've told the others involved in the failed invention I believe suicide to be a real risk. Even that is more than I wanted to do. The driving urge which got me to Al-Anon was realizing I don't care about this person any more. Whether this is really true, or just a delusional coping mechanism is a topic to discuss, but for me right now, I don't think it matters, as that apparent lack of feeling is the issue for me, not whether it is truly sincere. It was sincere, as well as an appropriate and successful manner of dealing with mom and her siblings, but that history shouldn't condemn my at-risk-now-person. Then again this person has let me down and intentionally hurt me deeply so many times the last five or ten years maybe it is appropriate. I'm too close to the situation to know.
So I've brought up my concern with those more closely involved, and been passively shut down. Do they disagree, or are they less willing to face the suicide issue than I? Maybe they are pissed I didn't keep mum, maybe they're relieved I aired my concern. I don't know. I wish I cared more. The overwhelming silence on the topic certainly makes me feel like I don't have a support system in the family. I suppose playing the family caretaker and mediator since I was six or seven didn't prepare anyone to listen or act on concerns or thoughts which originated from me, which I'd suppressed for 40 years.
This is sad for me to face. I've grown exponentially in the last few years. I've had to. I inherited some of the genius and the social dysfunction. Now, neglect can soften the edges of intelligence, but not an empty social life. I don't think I could reclaim the genius I had, not even if I had the slightest desire to do so, but that is not true for social intercourse. Along with becoming a social person I've learned personal honesty, and those seem so much more important than any intellectual gifts. And, the nice bonuses and raises I've gotten over the last year are a result of being able to effectively and positively work with other people, not because I can write solid maintainable code quickly.
My sister seems to have the best appreciation for who I am now. Like myself she has worked very hard to discover herself. Right now I don't like the term "reinventing oneself." It's inane and implies a much simpler process. "Oh look, I invented the light bulb, now it won't be dark any more." A quick, one time occurrence and everything is changed. How about, "This light bulb isn't working properly, so I'll go to the store to get a new one for now, and rewire the house so the new bulb has a chance." Of course people can continually improve and strengthen themselves, whereas the best light bulb still burns out. People can do that of course, but I'd say 99% of the time human burnouts happen by choice.
Rewiring the house can clean things up, reduce the chance of a catastrophic fire, and greatly reduce the burn out rate. The power lines coming into my house were shorting in the trees, and making the power pretty dirty. After they fixed the problem my light bulbs starting lasting about ten times as long, and DVD players last about 8-12 months instead of 8-12 weeks.
So my sister is running with cleaner current now, and so am I. We're certainly not on the edge of burnout nearly as often. We're not close though. We talk every few months, generally for a long time, so we're not distant. We keep each other laughing. When she told me they had to put down their Golden Retriever, I told her I was very sorry, and went off on a tangent about how I expect her to survive me so she can tell outrageous lies in very bad taste about me at my memorial service. We have a certain wryness in common, and I intended for the dark humor of the note to let her laugh and cry, which it did. Today is Sammy's last trip to the veterinarian. I have Terrie, and the rest of her family in my thoughts. He's a sweet dog, and even though I only see him once a year or so, I'll miss him a Hell of a lot too.
It is my hope that is the biggest loss those of us in the recent intervention will experience for a while. I'm not hopeful. Even after talking it through a bit here and very briefly at the meeting last night, I don't see good stuff hiding just around the corner. Is it because of the perfectly woeful record for addictions I've been directly affected by? Is it to protect myself? Is it my desire for the problem to just go away so I can move on more easily? I know I'm utterly powerless in this situation. That doesn't make it any easier for me to follow the serenity prayer
, "Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed...
" I can't stop my at-risk-now-person from a determined suicide attempt. I can't make others deal with the possibility proactively. All I can hope at this point is my at-risk-now-person breaks becomes the first addict in my life to actually recover. I do have some hope for this. I think they have ways to go before they hit bottom though, because people aren't able to let go of enabling behavior. My at-risk-now-person certainly isn't ready to let go of their own enabling behavior.