Al‑Anon saved my life.  I truly believe if I had not found this program, I would have died. Yet here I am, able to find happiness and joy, even though my life’s circumstances aren’t perfect. My program really came alive for me when I felt I had no choice but to kick my underage son out of the house. While it was one of the most painful things I had ever done, letting him stay in our home was even more painful. To help me get through the hard times, I would meditate on the following ideas. 

It’s happening to him; it’s not happening to me. Oh, what a good empathizer I was. I would imagine my poor son—he must be so hungry and cold and lonely and sad and tired. I would become stricken with imagined grief, as if I were in his shoes. Yet, my son was out there living his life. In Al‑Anon, I learned how to live my life fully and not project my wild imagination onto what he might be going through.  

“Helping” him is not helping him. When I gave handouts to my son, it just prolonged his disease. I really just wanted to make myself feel better, and while I might feel some temporary relief, I would eventually come to regret my offers of assistance. Also, each time I rescued him, it gave him the message that someone would always take care of him. I had to learn to say no every single time he asked for something.

What would he do if I were dead? When I felt obligated to help him, I would ponder this idea. It was a good way to remind me to detach with love. If I did choose to buy him a meal or pay for a haircut, I could take the time I needed to think and not react. 

In Al‑Anon, I’ve found many tools that I can rely on to help me get through challenging times. If I think I want to give something to the alcoholic or help him in some way, I will seek my Higher Power’s wisdom before deciding. I can always do it tomorrow. 

By Ellen S., Oregon

The Forum, May 2023


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.