Over the last couple of weeks, I have found myself feeling increasingly inadequate and hopeless. I have been questioning my decisions and feeling incredibly lonely and isolated. Many people experiencing COVID-19 have been feeling isolated and overwhelmed, but my disease took me to a very dark place—the same place I was when I found Al‑Anon many years ago.
Growing up in the family disease of alcoholism, I learned and practiced many unhealthy behaviors in my life. Becoming doubtful that I could ever change, I frequently wondered about taking my life. Finding Al‑Anon was my turning point. I attended meetings, read Conference Approved Literature, and eventually had the courage—it took a while—to ask someone to be my Sponsor. With my Sponsor’s help, I completed all Twelve Steps and transformed my life. After many years of constantly considering suicide as a solution, I was able to find hope and, with that, peace. Said simply, Al‑Anon saved my life.
So, I was a little startled recently, while attending an online meeting, to hear a Step One question from Reaching for Personal Freedom (P-92): “What situations in my life have returned me to Step One?” I suddenly recognized that I was once again in despair. Thankfully, the recognition comforted me. I realized I was experiencing the first of the three A’s (awareness, acceptance, action). Along with it came acceptance of my current spiritual condition. I was feeling hopeless. Then what I’d learned in the program guided me to the last A, action. I selected my emoji to share and opened up about my current feelings of desperation.
As always, sharing out loud relieved me of my immediate suffering and gave me the ability once again to listen for solutions. Those who followed shared similar experiences of powerlessness in facing the ongoing isolation of the COVID-19 lockdown. But they also shared the Al‑Anon tools they were using to find hope. We were being restored to sanity—together.
I have had the great good fortune to be able to give back to Al‑Anon in many ways throughout my recovery journey. What this experience reminded me, though, was that often the most important service each of us has to offer—regardless of how long we have been members or how well we feel we are working the program—is the willingness to admit our powerlessness and share our desperation. As it says in Sponsorship, What It’s All About (P-31), in those moments “it’s like being lost in the woods: If we find someone else who is lost, it is comforting when that person says, ‘I’m lost too. Let’s see if we can find our way out together.’”
As a relatively longtime member of Al‑Anon, I see attending meetings as both a necessity and a responsibility. I have received so much through this program, my Sponsors, and being of service. I am grateful for the opportunity to be there for the newcomers and the other longtime members. Like me, they have days when they cannot find their Higher Power or their Al‑Anon tools. Like them, I need the fellowship of other members to guide me back to the solution. I am grateful to all the members who have adapted to this very challenging environment to ensure that Al‑Anon will always be there.
By Vali F., Executive Director
The Forum, September 2020
Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.