When I attended my first Al‑Anon meeting, my denial was so thick I did not recognize there was any alcoholism in my family. I thought the problem was me.

It was my good fortune to attend my first Al‑Anon meeting in Seattle. It was a large meeting that broke into smaller groups. One of the groups was for beginners and met in the hallway. We sat in rows of chairs that faced each other. When it was my turn to speak, I said that I was there at the recommendation of a counselor and that I didn’t know if I belonged in Al‑Anon. The member who volunteered to lead the meeting assured me that I was welcome to keep coming back until I knew for sure whether Al‑Anon could help me. She said I could share why the counselor suggested I try Al‑Anon, or I could just listen. She left the decision up to me.

I explained that I went to see a counselor because I felt tempted to cross the centerline and ram my car into opposing traffic. I didn’t know why I felt like causing a serious accident, but I knew that, if I didn’t get help, someone was going to get hurt. The counselor suggested I go to Al‑Anon. The chairperson thanked me for sharing and encouraged me to keep coming back. She also introduced the acronym, H.A.L.T. to me, which stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired. She said if any of us found ourselves feeling too hungry, angry, lonely or tired, it might be a good idea to drop everything else and take care of that need right away. It was just what I needed to hear.

Eventually, Al‑Anon helped me recognize the alcoholism that permeated at least four generations of my family. I have learned so much by listening to other people talk about their families. Of all the people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking, I don’t know how I got lucky enough to find Al‑Anon. I am very grateful, and today I feel safe behind the wheel of a car.

By Pat Q., Traveling

The Forum, August 2018