When I came into the program, I was filled with despair and anger. I felt like a prisoner and a victim. My husband’s alcoholism had (I thought) destroyed my life and ruined all my dreams for the future. When I heard it said that Al‑Anon was a way to personal freedom, I could not understand it. How could I be free when my partner was an active alcoholic?

But as I stayed in Al‑Anon and started to work the program, I did find freedom: freedom from my obsession with someone else’s choices, freedom from my constant failure to control someone else’s behavior, freedom to improve my own life, and the life-changing freedom of no longer being a victim, of realizing that I always have choices.

Through the years, I have gained more and more personal freedom by working this program. I have gained freedom from shame and guilt. I now have freedom from what other people may think of me. In addition, I have the freedom to know who I am and what I am called to do in my life—the freedom to do what’s right for me. And, finally, I have been given the freedom to stand tall and to know that I am a beloved child of a loving and caring Higher Power.

The freedom I receive in Al‑Anon doesn’t mean I’m always happy in every area of my life or that other people’s choices don’t sometimes disturb and concern me. But this freedom does mean that, in spite of other people’s choices, I feel at peace with myself, and I am given the strength to live my life in a way that’s congruent with my values.

My freedom is not free, however. There’s a price to be paid, and it’s an ongoing price. To maintain my personal freedom, I have to keep working my program.

My defects still can (and do) take me captive sometimes. The same defects I came into the program with are still present in my life (though greatly reduced!). People-pleasing, trying to control the uncontrollable, thinking of myself as a victim, and obsessing about things that can’t be changed or things I’ve done wrong can still derail me (when I choose to let them).

Luckily, the remedy is always at hand. Going back to Steps One through Three, getting to a meeting, getting back to my prayer and meditation time, calling my Sponsor or a trusted Al‑Anon friend… all of these simple tools, once I choose to use them, bring me back to a life centered in my Higher Power’s loving care and guidance and in which I once again feel the blessed freedom of the program.

By Luann C., Illinois

The Forum, April 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.