When I was new to Al‑Anon meetings, I heard members ask, “Do you want recovery, or just relief?” I realized I didn’t know the difference between those two things, and, as a newcomer, that little word “just” gave me the idea that getting or finding relief was less than desirable. Someone pointed me to page 125 in Courage to Change (B-16), where it says, “Recovery is a wonderful word. It means getting something back. Today I will try to remember that ‘that something’ is me.” I still struggled. What does that mean in daily action? What does that feel like? How do I know if I’m “just” getting relief or actually on the path to recovery?

As I continued to think about these ideas, I realized that, actually, relief is far from a “just” for me. Rather, it is critical to moving forward toward recovery. I imagine recovery as swimming underwater. I can’t begin or keep swimming (recovering) without a big gulp of air (relief). In daily action, sometimes I feel like I’m underwater, and things like going to a meeting, venting to another member, having a good cry, and reading the literature are my relief, my breath of air, my preparation to move forward. The next piece—whether I choose to act differently, remember my choices, reason something out with my Sponsor, stay in contact with my Higher Power, journal honestly about my motives, or choose to show up with kindness and love as God would have me—this is recovery in action.

By Azelie F., Massachusetts

 The Forum, March 2022

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.