I am surrounded by alcoholism—both active alcoholics and those in recovery. These are people very close to me, whom I love. Yet, I am a happy person! How is it that I can feel so joyful? Why am I content? How do I have peace in my heart with all this around me? Because in Al‑Anon, I have been blessed with a program that gives me a map to serenity. I have found tools I can use in any situation: the Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, service, and slogans. I have an amazing Sponsor, who guides me in the direction I should be heading. I am part of a home group, filled with the most amazing people, where I feel tremendous support and a connection with my Higher Power.

My mom took me to my first Alateen meeting in April 1973. It was there that I learned I was not alone. As a teenager, this was the most important thing to me. Keeping the secret that my dad was a violent person when drinking, and that the police were at our home several times a year, was incredibly challenging and weighed heavily on me. In Alateen, I learned that I was not responsible for my father’s behavior; I was only responsible for myself.

As a young adult, I had to handle the fact that my baby sister also was caught in the grips of the disease of alcoholism. Even with my program, this was hard for me to understand. How could she do this? She hated when our dad was drinking, yet here she was, her third wreck and third DUI. I started going to Al‑Anon instead of Alateen. The perspective was a little different there. Again, the emphasis was on taking care of myself, but I also learned from the group about the insidiousness of the disease. I came to understand it as an actual illness. With my tools, I certainly coped much better. (The bonus is she is now 31 years sober.)

As life progressed, my husband became an alcoholic and still struggles with his recovery. Thus, I needed the program tools more than ever. Did I always use them? No. Did I still make many attempts to control the situation(s)? You betcha! Did I succeed? Absolutely not! Did I cope well when my son was arrested for his third DUI? Not at all. (He’s in recovery eight years now.) But I did have all the tools to do so; I just had to use them.

After a move, I joined an Al‑Anon group in my new area, which turned out to be another blessing. It was there that I found the support and wisdom and knowledge to use all my tools and resources to live a serene, and yes, a very happy life.

By Susan C., Georgia

The Forum, July 2021

Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.