“I listened in amazement—their stories were worse than mine!”
When I turned into the parking lot to attend my first Al‑Anon meeting, I felt anxious and confused. Since the meeting took place in my hometown, I worried that someone might know me. Would anyone ask me personal questions about the tension and chaos in my home? Would the news finally be out about my spouse’s drinking?
I felt like keeping the family intact was my job, and I was failing at it. Still, I made myself walk from the parking lot through the doors to the Al‑Anon meeting inside—only to see a roomful of people helping themselves to a buffet, smiling and laughing. It was the Al‑Anon group’s anniversary meeting. I sat down with members of a family, who welcomed me and shared how Al Anon was helping them. I was too nervous to eat, and the Al‑Anon information went mostly over my head.
I listened in amazement—their stories were worse than mine! Even so, there was laughter that seemed friendly and not at all hurtful. How could they possibly find humor in their situations? Their understanding and enjoyment of each other lit a tiny beacon of hope for me that night. How long had it been since I laughed out loud? I promised myself I would come back for more of their meetings.
The Al‑Anon members at my table accepted me with no questions asked. Their conversation and laughter has stayed with me all this time. I count myself a grateful member who keeps coming back. I seek out newcomers at my home meeting and suggest that they keep coming back too!

Sherrie V., California