When I went to my first Al‑Anon meeting, I was worried that I didn’t belong. However, I was reassured that the only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or a friend. At the time, I was in a long, sad marriage but wasn’t sure if my husband was an alcoholic. He drank a lot but was able to work. He lost his temper, but not only when he drank. A friend whose husband was dying of alcoholism said that, while I may not know for sure whether or not he is an alcoholic, he seems to have addictive behavior; further, she encouraged me to take care of myself. That brought me to my first meeting. I was grateful that I could give my first name only and just listen. I began to recognize many characteristics that described my relationship with my husband.
Since then, I’ve known I am in the right place. Although I am no longer married, I benefit from continuing to attend meetings. My son has an alcohol problem, and Al‑Anon helps me interact in healthier ways with him and everyone else I meet. In meetings, I hear many ways to take my hands off and allow things to unfold. Further, as a child, I was conditioned to be nice, but I realized I’d carried this too far. I had been compliant with my husband’s wishes and abandoned myself. I realized that I had lost touch with my feelings and was out of touch with my preferences. I had been going along to get along and no longer knew, for example, what music or restaurant I liked. To keep the peace, I’d say, “you choose,” or, “anything is fine with me.” I’m now choosing to become more congruent with my true self. What a surprise to be able to start from scratch and begin to give myself permission to make small and large choices.
By Barbara D., Colorado
The Forum, September 2019