I went to my first meeting the same day my doctor suggested it. It couldn’t have come at a better time. For almost a year, I cried at every meeting—and still can. These tears cleanse my soul, and I feel better when I come out of a meeting. I need meetings now just like I need water.
I am 31, and I spent half of my life close to one addicted person or another. I had no knowledge of the disease and its effects on me. The changes were so subtle. I lost my sense of self-worth because I wasn’t focused on me. I found people whom I wanted to change so I could feel worthy and important. Now, because of Al‑Anon, I realize I was and still am addicted to chaos. That’s what has become familiar and, unfortunately, makes me comfortable. I am aware now, and my addiction to chaos needs to change if I really want to live.
I have to work on me every day and will for a long time to come. But I need to be patient with myself and accept where I am. I don’t want chaos. I want peace and serenity, but addiction is baffling, powerful, and cunning. I don’t need to understand. I just need to be open and willing to change.
My habit of focusing on others for so long has made me sick. It will take time to get healthy. I have gotten better. At least, I am aware now. As long as I go to my meetings and bring my body, my mind does absorb the words. My behaviors are taking longer to change, but I am a work in progress.
I don’t need to beat myself up because the alcoholics and addicts did that for me. I can sound like a textbook if that’s what it takes for me to learn. I can be flawed because, after all, I am still human. As long as I strive to have a better day than yesterday and not insist for things to go my way, everything will be okay.
I heard that no one deserves my love as much as I do. Putting my needs first is okay. Only then can I be of help to others, and only when they ask. Most importantly, I have learned to pray for strength and not for life to be easier. Life and its problems will happen. At times, it will be painful, but how I react is up to me. I don’t have to be upset forever and continue to suffer in self-pity or fear. I’m allowed to have these feelings, but at some point I have to release them in order to move on.
I used to question everything, and, honestly, this habit may never change, but I have learned it is easier to let go and accept. In Al‑Anon, I can trust people, because they don’t question me. They just listen. They help me be less judgmental. They have shown me many lessons and, most especially, what it means to truly love. I can love myself and the addicted persons in my life most by letting them go. I pray for me, I pray for them, and then I work on me.
By Heidi H.
The Forum, March 2017
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Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Hdqts., Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.