Before I entered the rooms of Al‑Anon, I lived by the motto “Whatever does not kill me makes me stronger.” Funny, huh? The reality was that I ended up getting hurt over and over again. Being beat up repeatedly—either emotionally, mentally, or spiritually—oftentimes left me in a weakened state. I had only rudimentary tools to prevent myself from being hurt.

I came to Al‑Anon over 11 years ago, hurting and weakened beyond what I had ever experienced before. My son was found by campus police, drunk, passed out, and exposed to the elements. Al‑Anon helped me distinguish what hurt was mine and what was his (detachment), trust in my Higher Power and ask for His help, and recognize the difference between helping and enabling my son. Intellectually, I understood these concepts, but it was far different to feel and live them. By going to meetings, getting a Sponsor, reading the literature, learning about and using the Al‑Anon tools, and relying on the slogans and the Serenity Prayer, I started to heal and grow.

Five years ago, I learned that my son had been arrested and jailed out of state for another alcohol-related offense. It almost felt like I was two people: one was the taking-care-of-business dad who made the phone calls and arrangements to get him an attorney, to get him released from jail, etc. Once he was released, I handed over any further legal responsibilities to him. The second was dad-as-an-emotional-mess. I was hurting deeply again, but not as deeply or for as long as I had been when I entered the program.

For me, healing is a process. It is not complete and may never become so entirely. But the wounds get smaller every time I say yes to the chance to grow by facing a challenge. I do not have to do it alone now. I have my Higher Power, my Sponsor, my Al‑Anon friends, my wife (who is also in Al‑Anon), and my son. I now come from an attitude of gratitude for this family disease. If I did not have it, I would not have recovery either. I feel blessed to be able to share my recovery and to offer a listening ear to others in order to help them find what I have found: the blessing of going from hurting to healing to helping.

By Jim M., Ohio

The Forum, August 2022

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.