When I walked through the door of my first Al‑Anon meeting, I felt desperate and broken. I was hoping for some guidance or enlightenment and really needed some reassurance that I wasn’t going crazy. I was so entangled with my adult son and his young family that when the bottom fell out with regard to his disease and he fled his marriage and his baby son, I felt as though the earth had collapsed under my feet. I couldn’t make sense of anything, and I desperately wanted to help “fix” the situation.

I knew that only someone who had experienced something close to what I was going through could help me understand and come to grips with what was happening to me and those I loved. I was greeted so warmly at that first meeting that I immediately felt I belonged.

Because I was a newcomer, the members made it a Step One meeting and shared what had brought each of them to Al‑Anon and how long they’d been coming. I was shocked to learn that some had been attending for decades. One gentleman shared that he had been attending for 30 years, and the meetings had helped him find happiness and contentment in his life, even though his spouse was still actively drinking.

When I shared about my own pain surrounding my son’s disease, I was told that I didn’t cause it, I couldn’t control it, and I surely couldn’t cure it. At the end of the meeting, the Chairperson looked at me and spoke the entire Suggested Closing completely from memory. These lines were especially fitting: “A few special words to those of you who haven’t been with us long: Whatever your problems, there are those among us who have had them, too. If you try to keep an open mind, you will find help. You will come to realize that there is no situation too difficult to be bettered and no unhappiness too great to be lessened.” It was an incredible feeling.

After the meeting, the members suggested some Al‑Anon literature, and I bought two daily readers that I put to immediate use. I visited a few other meetings in my area and finally settled on one that best fit my schedule as my home group. In Al‑Anon, I truly feel that I have been welcomed “home.”

By Mary S., Indiana

The Forum, August 2023

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.