I remember the first meeting I attended of a support group. My mother set it up, told me where to go and when to get there. What was so surprising to me was the fact that the location of the meeting was a place I passed every school day. I was to go up the stairs and wait for 4:00. I was told to sit there, don’t talk to no one till Rev. Mike come in and introduce himself. So I did. I had no idea why I was there but my mom said, “You need to meet others who have something in common with you.”
A man, young, good-looking with a big round afro walked in and sat down. He checked his watch; constantly. While we waited for 4:00 other kids came in, some alone, some with another teens. One came in with an old lady, maybe a grandmother. Big round afro said, “Mam, this meeting is for teens and pre teens, so they are at ease, relaxed. You can come back at 6.” Grandma left looking angry. When the time came big round afro stood up and said, ” I am Michael ___. You will call me Rev. ___ or Rev. Mike. I like Rev. Mike.”
Rev. Mike? I did not know Reverends came that young. Are you allowed to be a Reverend when you that fine? These were my thoughts and I was only 15. “We are all going to introduce ourselves and we are going to tell the group about our parents. I’ll start.” Rev. Mike’s mother loved to drink. His grandmother raised him and his father spent a lot of time with him when he was a boy. The next person was Trisha. Trisha’s father came home every Friday right after work. He drank from Friday night to Sunday night and went to work Monday afternoon still drunk from Sunday night. He was sober Monday night thru Thursday and the cycle repeated itself every Friday night. Every weekend something weird happened in that house.
When it was my turn I talked about my mother and how great she was. The group just looked at me. “Tell us about your Dad!” Rev. Mike stood waiting. “Yes E tell us about your father.” O there’s nothing to say. I hardly ever see him and when I do he acts crazy. He’s always mad. “And why does he act crazy?” I don’t know. My mother says he’s sick. He’s loud, he always mad and he is crude. But I don’t know what the sickness is. And he always fall asleep on the floor. Rev. Mike says, “E, everyone here has a parent that drink too much. Even me. My mother drank. Do you think your father acts crazy because he drinks? Or he’s drunk?” I thought about it. All I think is that he’s crazy. And he is loud, crude and very embarrassing. But that’s because he is sick. Rev. Mike smiles; the group laughs. He turns to the others, “What’s the most embarrassing thing your drinking parent has done so far?” Everybody has their turn. One hilarious story after another is shared. There was only one sad story and that was Trisha’s father who shot the dog dead because he thought the dog was another rat. It was sad because that dog was Trisha’s best friend but it was funny because when she shared how he told the Chicago Police officer that he killed the rat because rats were endangering his family while 2 officers and the family stood in a circle looking at a dead dog, well that was funny and we all laughed. Even Trisha laughed and she told us her dog was a huge German Shepherd!
The meeting ended and we were told the time and place for the next meeting. I liked that place. Rev. Mike told me to have my mother explain to me my father’s illness. Since my mother sent me to the meeting she should tell me all about Dad’s illness.
My father’s sickness, according to my mother, was alcoholism.
“Say it with me E:AL CO Hall IZ ZUM. That is when you drink, you love to drink and you can not stop drinking. The alcohol completely changes your personality. Only talk about this with the people at the meeting. Don’t go to school and talk about it and PLEASE don’t tell the people at church because it is not a sin, it is an illness.
Because of my AL Anon experience I highly recommend the use of a support group. The facilitators are trained and knowledgeable. A good facilitator will make the meeting a safe space, will set rules, maintain order and simultaneously allow a free flow. The group’s members and the facilitators, based on their experience and training, are qualified to give advice and recommendations within the support group.
Thank you for stopping by 🙂