I thought I was so perfect, so I didn’t know why I was so sad and miserable. I grew up in a family with two parents who had a good marriage. My mother spent a lot of energy trying to teach me how to make the perfect pie crust and how to clean tile with a toothbrush. My relatives and family friends never drank except for an occasional beer or wine on holidays. To me, an alcoholic was a drunk on a bar stool or on the street. Then I met my husband, and for the first month, I never saw him sober. He was angry and violent. I was afraid and tried to be the best wife and mother I could be so he wouldn’t get so angry. I didn’t know what was wrong with me—or him. As I approached my 25th wedding anniversary, I couldn’t decide whether to throw a party or get a divorce.

We tried counseling for a while, but my husband stopped going when the questions got harder. Several people recommended Al‑Anon to me, but they didn’t tell me how to stop the misery I felt. However, I decided to try it. I have been coming for several months, and I am happier. I’ve started to look at myself and my life without blinders on. I like myself more than I ever have and have started mending my relationships with my kids. Although I don’t like to look at my shortcomings, doing so has helped me make peace with myself. I never felt good enough as a child or in my marriage, but through Al‑Anon, I am learning that I am me—with all my faults and talents.

By Betty B., New Hampshire

The Forum, September 2018