When I first came to Al‑Anon, I had the same fears about sharing in meetings that I’ve since heard other newcomers express: fear of the story getting back to the alcoholic, with disastrous repercussions; fear of sounding overly dramatic or being misunderstood; fear of speaking to a group. But after coming to Al‑Anon meetings for a while, I recognized the truth of the Al‑Anon closing: “Whatever your problems, there are those among us who have had them, too.”

When I share now, I know that other members don’t see me as a bizarre or foolish person. They see in me the struggle to find my way out of the chaos in my life. I learned from another member that if something is a big deal inside my head, it’s a big enough deal to share about in a meeting.

Overcoming my own fear of sharing did a number of wonderful things for me. Telling those parts of my story that I had kept secret took away their power to control my actions. I no longer had to spend time and energy avoiding and hiding that part of my past. You might say that sharing my story released those secrets so they can’t keep me sick.

By far the biggest lesson I learned from sharing my story was the difference between what is secret (something I believed I could not share) and what is private (something I only share with trusted friends). For example, my personal finances are not secret but private, something the world at large is not privileged to know. By mentally moving certain issues from the “secret never to be shared” category to “private information only shared with trusted friends,” I took away their power to control my thoughts and actions.

By Allen L., Washington

The Forum, April 2022


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