As I walked into my first meeting my mind screamed with the question—What’s the secret to get my son to stop drinking and using? I had tried everything—counseling, rehab, psychiatry, new schools, and new cars. Nothing worked. He was destroying himself, and I was powerless to stop him. I felt I had to find the secret. Al‑Anon members were the nicest people I’d ever met, but they wouldn’t tell me the secret. They just smiled and said, “Keep Coming Back.” I did go back, and I felt a little better after each meeting.

I learned to lower my expectations and to stop accepting responsibility for my son’s decisions. I learned that detaching with love does not mean abandoning. I learned to respond, rather than react. I learned I could become part of this worldwide fellowship that offers support when my work takes me from city to city. It took time to weave these lessons into the fabric of my life. Eventually, I realized I had been asking the wrong question. Instead of asking How can I get my son to stop drinking and using? the question was How can I find peace in the face of my son’s self-destructive behavior? I realize that the members had given me the secret that first night, but I hadn’t understood it. The secret for me was to “Keep Coming Back.”

By Don B., Ohio

The Forum, August 2018