What am I doing here? I thought. I didn’t want to be here. I wondered how Al‑Anon was going to help me with what I was facing at home. These people didn’t even know me, or so I thought, but it turns out they did. Walking through the door to my first Al‑Anon meeting was probably one of the scariest, saddest, and most life-giving moments I have ever experienced.
My situation had brought me there, whether I wanted to be there or not. I felt like I was betraying my alcoholic loved one by walking into that meeting, as if I were labeling this individual as an alcoholic to the entire world. I thought, how could I betray someone I love so much in that way? But I sat down in a chair and just listened. There was no pressure to speak, interact, or commit. I just listened. I started to hear stories that were similar to mine from people of all walks of life stuck in the same mess of living with an alcoholic. That first meeting, I didn’t get it all figured out, but I did learn that Al‑Anon was the place for me to take my life back, regardless of the recovery or denial of the alcoholic.
Now, a year later, I sometimes still struggle with the fact that I need Al‑Anon meetings, but I know that alcoholism is real, so the need is real. I have learned that I have to take care of me before I can take care of anyone else. That’s not selfish: it’s self-care. I know that I get better every single time I walk through the door.
The Forum, October 2019