I walked into my first Al‑Anon meeting on a Wednesday night. The weekend before, my sister, who’s in A.A., had given me a book to read about adult children of alcoholics. I identified with what it said, and it mentioned that there might be help in an organization called Al‑Anon. The only requirement for membership was a problem with alcoholism in a relative or a friend. My sister had been in A.A. for a year, and my dad’s drinking really bothered me.
When I went to that meeting, I was hoping to find a way to stop Dad’s drinking so I could feel okay and learn the language my sister was using so we could communicate better. What I found was a warm, welcoming group of people who shared honestly about themselves and their feelings, which was totally lacking in my life. Yet, I felt like I had come home. I felt safe and hadn’t even realized how unsafe I had felt before. They were in a big circle of chairs, and when someone else came into the room, rather than having to pull up a seat in the back, the circle widened for them. I learned that I was there for me and that I was powerless over anyone else’s drinking—no matter how much I loved him or her. However, I could take care of myself and be available if my alcoholic father asked for help. Members encouraged me to try six meetings before I decided if Al‑Anon was for me. What stays with me the most is the warmth and safety I experienced there. I knew I was there to stay.