When I went to my first Al‑Anon meeting, I was worried that I didn’t belong. However, I was reassured that the only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or a friend. At the time, I was in a long, sad marriage but wasn’t sure if my husband was an alcoholic. He drank a lot but was able to work. He lost his temper, but not only when he drank. A friend whose husband was dying of alcoholism said that, while I may not know for sure whether or not he is an alcoholic, he seems to have addictive behavior; further, she encouraged me to take care of myself. That brought me to my first meeting. I was grateful that I could give my first name only and just listen. I began to recognize many characteristics that described my relationship with my husband.
Since then, I’ve known I am in the right place. Although I am no longer married, I benefit from continuing to attend meetings. My son has an alcohol problem, and Al‑Anon helps me interact in healthier ways with him and everyone else I meet. In meetings, I hear many ways to take my hands off and allow things to unfold. Further, as a child, I was conditioned to be nice, but I realized I’d carried this too far. I had been compliant with my husband’s wishes and abandoned myself. I realized that I had lost touch with my feelings and was out of touch with my preferences. I had been going along to get along and no longer knew, for example, what music or restaurant I liked. To keep the peace, I’d say, “you choose,” or, “anything is fine with me.” I’m now choosing to become more congruent with my true self. What a surprise to be able to start from scratch and begin to give myself permission to make small and large choices.
By Barbara D., Colorado
The Forum, September 2019
Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters., Inc., Virginia Beach, VA