When I came to Al‑Anon, I thought the purpose was to focus on the alcoholic. After all, I thought that he was the one with the problems, the one making my life unbearable. I never thought that I had any control over making myself happy or having any peace of mind. My solution at the time was to either stay and put up with it or leave. Since I was not able to support myself financially, my only choice was to stay. However, since coming to Al‑Anon, I have slowly started to realize that only I could make the changes in my life that would determine how happy I would be. To do that, I had to put my entire focus on myself and to look within myself to find hidden strengths I didn’t know I had.

For most of my adult life, I found it so easy to blame other people, rather than myself. However, focusing on myself means to live my own life and let others live theirs. I have learned to take my own inventory, let others take theirs and mind my own business. I was so busy focusing on my daughter with her problems and my husband with his problems that I neglected to spend any time on me with my problems. I learned in Al‑Anon to put myself first.

None of these changes has happened overnight. I had to begin by learning to like myself and to do things that make me happy. I had to rid myself of resentments, fears and self-pity and replace them with hope, serenity and joy. I realized that I am entitled to feel better about myself and enjoy all the pleasures life has to offer, like planting flowers from seeds and watching them grow or taking an evening course to improve my knowledge. I am learning not to put all my eggs in one basket by depending on the alcoholic to provide me with everything. In order to have a richer, more meaningful life, I must provide for myself. I am also learning to be honest with myself and not use my recovery as an excuse to justify my efforts to change other people. Trying to do so only gets me in trouble. Instead, I will promptly admit such mistakes and put my energy back where it belongs—on myself.

By Bonnie B., Ontario