Mine is a disease, at least in part, of uniqueness. I came into Al‑Anon in my early twenties at a time when I had just begun to admit to myself and others that I am gay. I knew after my first meeting that Al‑Anon was for me because, as mixed up and shaky as I was having grown up in the disease of alcoholism and addiction, I found great comfort in the hugs and the love I received from the other members. However, I was not sure that they would feel the same way about me if they knew I am gay. So, I swapped pronouns when I talked about my dating life—“she” instead of “he.” Growing up, I felt different and alone, and the insanity of my home life only helped to perpetuate those feelings.

The longer I stayed and began to heal from the effects of having lived all my life with the disease, though, I realized that, if I was going to continue to grow, I was going to have to become completely honest. So, I shared my secret with my first good friend in the program. She looked at me, smiled, gave me a big hug, and said, “Sweetie, I know, and I love you just for being you.” At that time, I was still learning who I was and to accept myself exactly as I was, so her acceptance meant the world to me.

In the years since then, Al‑Anon has become a place where I feel safe, accepted, and welcome. In turn, I see it as my responsibility to other members and particularly newcomers to greet them with that same unconditional love that was given to me. Interestingly, I find that the more I give, the more I get back. Today, I am grateful to be able to truly be myself—one of many other members. I am no better or less than anyone else. We form a circle of equals who are here to heal and help others heal from the devastating effects of alcoholism.

By Josh P., South Carolina

Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2020