I didn’t know when I walked into my first Al‑Anon meeting what was wrong with me. I felt hopeless—not from my inability to solve an alcoholic’s problem, but from failing to solve my own problems. I was in a perpetual loop of bad relationship patterns. Serial monogamy was my modus operandi—having one on the plate and another on deck ensured that I never risked being alone.
I came to Al‑Anon somewhat on the recommendation of my counselor. I imagine that after several years of listening to me talk about my harmful behavior without changing it, she was growing a little frustrated. With increasing directness, she urged me to find a “support system” other than those with whom I was involved. She did not mention alcoholism or Al‑Anon. In fact, I am not even certain if she understood how my behavior patterns matched those of others who had grown up in the family disease of alcoholism.
I eventually followed her direction. I found my first meeting, thanks to the efforts of the local Al‑Anon Information Service to create a fledgling website, which displayed the 20 questions from Did You Grow Up with a Problem Drinker? (S-25). At the meeting, I heard members share feelings that helped me realize I was not alone. My counselor’s guidance, those members’ commitment to public outreach, and that meeting saved my life. Finally, I felt hope that I could change my destructive patterns.
Al‑Anon has many tools available today to share with professionals about the impact of growing up in the family disease. Al‑Anon Faces Alcoholism magazine and member sharings on al‑anon.org offer our stories, and the Membership Survey data provides evidence of Al‑Anon’s effectiveness. We each have an opportunity to make a difference when we share these tools with a professional whom we know. Thank you for your efforts—they certainly made all the difference for me.
By Vali F., Executive Director
The Forum, February 2021