I remember at my first Al‑Anon meeting wanting to sit in the back and be invisible. It was a big group, over 50 people, in a church hall. The speakers were up front. I remember laughter. I could not comprehend how people suffering the things I was suffering could be happy, could be laughing. I had not laughed for a long time, and I found nothing about the situation with my husband humorous. As people spoke, I felt a sense of relief that the things happening in my home were not unique; they happened to others, too, and I was not alone.
I knew that I did not cause and could not control the situations happening in these strangers’ homes, so perhaps what was happening to my family was not my fault either, and perhaps not my responsibility to fix. I remember kindness—welcoming smiles, an invitation to coffee after the meeting. I had a sense that this group knew my secret and was totally unfazed by it.
A wave of relief started in that first meeting. I could not control my husband’s drinking, nor did I cause it. All my plans and schemes for fixing our situation had not worked and would never work. I could stop trying to figure it out. The insanity in my life had a name, and it was alcoholism.
It took me many years after that first meeting to fully grasp the Steps of Al‑Anon and truly find peace and serenity, but at my very first meeting I found hope. That was enough to keep me coming back.
The Forum, October 2023
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.