When I first walked into the rooms of Al‑Anon, I had perhaps done so for all the wrong reasons—curiosity being the main one. Today, I acknowledge and understand that I have stayed for all the right ones. I have heard in these rooms that we grow where we are planted, and this is exactly how I view my experience of this beautiful program.
I grew up in a home and amongst a family in which alcohol was always a welcome guest. In fact, it was a guest that often overstayed its welcome. My behavior towards those who consumed excessive amounts of alcohol was disrespectful and completely irrational. I was loud on the outside and on the inside. I resented all the alcoholics in my life and felt an extreme sense of relief when, one by one, they passed away.
My character defects were etched on my heart and soul like permanent tattoos. Lack of trust, a need to control, and a willful ego had been the managers of my life for a long time, so when I was asked to do service in Al‑Anon, I second-guessed myself. I never believed that I had what it took, and my ego would not allow me to make an error. But I learned the phrase “service does not replace recovery,” which means that my service to Al‑Anon depends on my healthy recovery. How beautiful it is that recovery leads me to accept others for who they are, instead of resenting them for who they are not (to me).
My growth in recovery and my growth in service have enhanced each other. My experience is that there is certainly no comfort in the growth zone and no growth in the comfort zone. There have been many different challenges, like the many different seasons. Working with others, serving in a loving environment, and using the Al‑Anon code of loving interchange were difficult for someone like me who had spent most of my life shouting to be heard, and yet these things all became possible.
After serving as Area Delegate, I was elected to serve as a member of the General Service Board. This truly humbled me. I had no idea that I was worthy of such a role. Again, I found myself mistrusting me! When I was elected Chairperson of the Board and International Al-Anon General Services Meeting (IAGSM) Delegate, I was speechless. Tears rolled down my cheeks. Once again, others had more faith in me than I had in myself. How could they? What could they see that I could not? These members knew what I was capable of—I just had to see it.
When I eventually surrendered to the process, everything fell into place. Again, I was growing where I was planted, and the unconditional love and support of my Sponsors and the fellowship have been my sustenance. Seasons come and go, and so do my many experiences. As I am planted here, my roots remain grounded—serving a loving fellowship as I continue to grow “One Day at a Time.”
By Uthica A., IAGSM Delegate, South Africa
The Forum, February 2024
“Inside Al-Anon Family Groups” presents news, policy, and commentary from volunteers, staff, and readers sharing experience through service. Please feel free to reprint these articles on your service structure website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.