I was nervous about going to my first Al‑Anon meeting, but I felt I had nothing to lose. I had hit my emotional rock bottom and was losing my sanity. Being unhappy for most of my life, I carried around shame and suffered from low self-esteem stemming from my parents’ alcoholism and drug abuse. I always felt that I was not good enough. As a child, I also felt like a financial burden. My grandmothers supported my mother and me, and they cared for me when my mother was unable.

Being too young to understand all of this, I blamed myself for my father’s absence from my life. Why didn’t he love me? Why didn’t he send child support, I wondered. I felt innately unlovable. I carried these feelings of inadequacy and shame into adulthood and was unable to have positive relationships with men. I struggled with anxiety and depression from a very young age. Although I ultimately married and had children, I never felt “whole” and was unable to be truly happy.

But from that very first Al‑Anon meeting, I felt better. I found I wasn’t the only one negatively affected by alcoholism. It was comforting to know I wasn’t alone. In fact, many members had lives and/or upbringings far worse than mine. This awareness helped put my life into proper perspective. No therapist, church group, or relationship has ever been able to do what Al‑Anon has done for me. I am grateful for the understanding and welcoming members who shared their stories and told me, “We are glad you are here,” and “Keep Coming Back.”

By Michelle V., California

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.