As a newcomer to Al‑Anon, it took several months before I could share the most painful parts of my past—the things that had happened to me and the mistakes I had made.

Growing up in an alcoholic home, I learned to stuff my feelings, to isolate, and to shut down emotionally. Those were the ways I learned to survive. I didn’t want to feel those feelings. Guilt, shame, and self-doubt played equal parts in thrashing my happiness, triggering my unease, and sabotaging my capacity to love myself.

Working and practicing the Steps allowed me to see some harsh realities that I needed to accept in order to move on. I learned that I had just as cunning, baffling, and powerful a disease as the problem drinkers in my life. I hid. I pretended. I lied to myself over and over again.

In meetings, others suggested I keep coming back. I heard phrases like “Don’t leave before you get your miracle,” and “It works if you work it.” I found these suggestions inspiring, and so I kept coming back. By choosing to be honest, open-minded, and willing, I discovered that Al‑Anon’s spiritual principles continually help me to accept, to forgive, and to love myself and others—to be the best version of myself that I can be.

Because of practicing this beautiful way of life, I now know there is strength in being vulnerable and that tears are brave, beautiful, and healing. Sharing my story has put me on a path to inner peace and contentment, as well as continued spiritual growth. Today, I choose to live emotionally healthy, happy, and free.

By Rosemary B., Arizona

The Forum, November 2021

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.