When my mother, whom I called “the last alcoholic” in my life, died at 90, I felt surprisingly lost. All my life, she had been the goalpost I had either run to or from. In her last years, I drew on the strength and wisdom of many years in Al‑Anon. I needed it—caring for her at the end of her life put me back into the caretaker role of my youth. I yelled, “Why me?” at my Higher Power and lost patience as her needs, whether for canned nutrition drinks or doctor visits, mounted.
After she was gone, I felt disoriented. At a meeting, I heard someone say, “Sometimes I hug the literature to myself,” and decided that’s what I would do. What better way to affirm my strange journey in an alcoholic family? I reread How Al-Anon Works (B-32), then From Survival to Recovery (B-21). Both comforted me by saying, in effect, “We know where you’ve been.”
I also discovered Al‑Anon phone meetings and listened three to four times daily over several months. I felt amazingly better after each call. Finally, I guided a new person I’m sponsoring through the Steps, which helped me focus on something besides my own uncomfortable feelings. I could see the Steps work their magic, and that warmed my heart.
Still, it seems odd that there are no longer any active alcoholics in my life. If my alcoholic mother could see my growth in Al‑Anon, I am sure she would be proud. My grief has shifted to a new respect for what both my alcoholic parents achieved in their lifetimes despite their disease. Today, I am getting a second chance at life, and Al‑Anon is there to ensure I receive all its adventure, fullness, and joy. Al‑Anon allows me to see the good in my life—and prepare for even more as I grow.
By Ann C.
The Forum, October 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.