Editor’s note: An Al-Anon member shares her Alateen story.

When I was a child, I always sensed that something was wrong. I thought I had two dads, Nice Dad and Monster Dad; that was the only way my mind knew how to handle my father’s alcoholism.

When I was a child, I always sensed that something was wrong. I thought I had two dads, Nice Dad and Monster Dad; that was the only way my mind knew how to handle my father’s alcoholism.

Nice Dad laughed, paid attention to me, and played with my brother and me. Monster Dad smelled, talked, and walked funny. Monster Dad beat me up. My mother was also an alcoholic who used words as weapons. I was told all the time that Daddy drank because I was a naughty little girl, ugly, unwanted, and a burden. I was told that I would only be loved if I did things to earn it.

I felt like Cinderella because even though I was the youngest, I was expected to take care of my mom, dad, older brother, pets, and the house. I cooked, cleaned, paid bills, and did everything I could to keep the peace. My best was never good enough for the alcoholics, which usually meant I was abused for being a failure, a burden, or in the way. I honestly believed I was a naughty little girl who did something to deserve the abuse. Life went on in this way for a long time.

When I was 14, I was living on the streets instead of my parents’ house. For me, it was easier to accept violence at the hand of strangers, than to be beaten by my alcoholic parents and then told that they loved me. I had already made several attempts against my own life and had accepted that I would not live to be 15. Living on the streets, I did many things to survive that I’m not proud of.

One day, a storm came in and I was not dressed to weather it outside so I decided to get out of the rain. I broke into a building in the hopes of finding a warm, dry place to rest, and maybe take a nap. I ended up walking into a room with several kids and a couple of adults. That was my first Alateen meeting! I was too proud and too embarrassed to say I was in the wrong place, so I stayed for the meeting. That meeting saved my life.

In Alateen, and later in Al-Anon, I learned that I didn’t cause it, can’t control it, can’t cure it, and I don’t have to contribute to it. I learned that I had the right to be happy, healthy, and whole. I found the love, support, and acceptance I had so desperately wanted from my family.

In Alateen, I learned that my parents were sick; so sick that they weren’t able to treat me the way I deserved to be treated. In Alateen, I found the will to live and to work on myself so that I could find happiness—whether my parents were drinking or not. I found forgiveness for myself as well as for my parents. My life got better as I continued to go to meetings. It didn’t matter how bad things were at home, I always felt better after a meeting.

Most importantly, I learned that I have a Higher Power. I learned that my Higher Power wants what is best for me, wants to guide me along my path of recovery, and never leaves me. I now know that I am never alone. Today, my relationship with my Higher Power is the most important relationship in my life. I invite my Higher Power into every aspect of my life: difficult conversations, my work on the Steps, my relationships with the alcoholics in my life, and everything that I do. With the help of my Higher Power, my Sponsors, and other members of the fellowship, I have become the best version of myself possible.

Today, I have an amazing life. Every day, I continue to learn and grow in my recovery. I am happy despite difficult circumstances like losing my job. I am in the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had. I’m active in my service to my groups and as a Sponsor.

I’ve had the pleasure of being an AMIAS (Al-Anon Member Involved in Alateen Service) as well as serving Alateen at the Area level. I am a grateful member of Al-Anon and today, not only have I surpassed my 15th birthday, but I will be celebrating 17 years in the program this summer. And to think, it all happened because I didn’t want to get caught in the rain!

I have no doubt that my Higher Power is the reason I found myself in that meeting. I fully believe that my Higher Power will help me be the best version of myself possible as long as I continue to work my program and remain open-minded. My Higher Power has a plan for me, and today I am grateful for that and happy to be along for the ride.

By Aidan R.
The Forum, January 2013