Recently I purchased a vintage red bike at an estate sale. I smiled when I first saw it. It felt right. The first time I rode it, I realized how far I have come in Al‑Anon. I had finally purchased the bike I wanted, instead of letting others make the choice for me.

As a child of an alcoholic, I learned to ignore my own needs. I tried to do whatever my alcoholic mother wanted in hopes of ending the chaos in our household. I lost my self-esteem as I continued to please others and say yes to others, rather than following my own instincts and values.

This continued into my marriage when my husband decided to purchase bicycles for us. I let him make the decision for me and was never comfortable on that first bicycle, even though I wanted so much to enjoy the outdoors on a bike. The one he chose was complicated and uncomfortable and was not right for me. Later, we purchased some trail bikes, and again I let him make the decision in order to avoid conflict or disapproval. I was unhappy in the tight, confining biking clothes and did not enjoy that second bicycle, either.

I am so grateful to Al‑Anon for helping me change my people-pleasing behaviors. By attending meetings and working the Steps with a Sponsor, I have gotten to know myself and am learning to make choices that match my desires, instead of the desires of others. I can now risk their disapproval in order to please myself.

Today when I ride my red bike, I can smile and be happy, knowing that I have gained the courage to be myself.

By Laura D., California

The Forum, November 2017