I came into Al‑Anon utterly demoralized, beaten down by years of living in a degrading situation in my marriage. I had become inured to the cycle of my husband’s drinking, sexual coercion, and verbal abuse that sometimes escalated to physical violence. Over and over, I capitulated to his demands, then afterwards, tried to persuade him not to do that again.
Although I felt miserable, I didn’t know that I was actually ill from alcoholism—the family disease. I thought if I could just be a better wife—more agreeable, more accepting—I might not trigger my husband’s rage. Every day, I prayed for a miracle. But all of my efforts and prayers only kept me from acknowledging the hard truth about my marriage.
Eventually, a desperate internet search led me to Al‑Anon’s 20 questions—Are You Troubled by Someone’s Drinking? (S-17)—most of which I answered, “Yes.” I found a meeting, and there, for the first time, I met people who understood. They offered me validation, comfort, and support. At one meeting, a woman read the following life-changing statement from page 86 of One Day at a Time in Al‑Anon (B-6): “Acceptance does not mean submission to a degrading situation. It means accepting the fact of a situation and then deciding what we will do about it.”
Ultimately, accepting the reality of my situation led me to divorce. I was grateful for “A Special Word to Anyone Confronted with Violence” in How Al‑Anon Works (B-32), which suggests making an emergency safety plan. When I informed my husband of my decision, he was furious, and I needed to take our children and go somewhere safe for a time, which, for us, was the home of an Al‑Anon friend.
During the month of October, various campaigns throughout the US call attention to the problem of domestic violence, which reminds me that, as it did in my experience, domestic violence often goes hand-in-hand with alcoholism. Information about Al‑Anon can open the door to acceptance, action, hope, and healing.
Public outreach tools that raise awareness of the Al‑Anon program can be accessed at al‑anon.org/PO, including the 20 Questions leaflets (S-17, S-20, S-25) and the Al‑Anon Faces Alcoholism magazine (AFAM). Additionally, the Al‑Anon WSO social media feeds feature shareable posts, and informative videos and PSAs can be shared from the Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. YouTube channel. It is up to all of us to carry the message of hope and recovery to others through Al‑Anon Twelfth Step work.
By Carol C., Magazine Editor
The Forum, October 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.