When I first came to Al‑Anon, I was hesitant to speak. My negativity and shame convinced me that I had nothing to offer the group. I would listen to other members share and compare my insides to what I perceived to be their outsides. It took me a long while to acknowledge the fact that all members were equal; it did not matter how long anyone had been coming to meetings. Everyone had a voice to express their own experience, strength, and hope. It was perhaps the first place I came to where I had the opportunity to share and be accepted unconditionally.
As I continued to attend meetings, I was inspired by other members’ sharings to share my own thoughts and feelings for the first time. At first it was very uncomfortable. My heart pounded. I felt exposed, naked, and feared being judged. However, my recovery progressed as I revealed more about myself, my beliefs, and behaviors. Looking back at my years growing up in the disease of alcoholism has been painful, but also valuable in helping me discover my identity. I will be forever grateful to those members who had the courage to share their own journey of pain, discovery, and recovery. It has enabled me to gather my courage to gently peel away the layers of shame, humiliation, and unworthiness I once felt to truly rediscover my identity as a grateful, contributing person.