There have been times in my life when silence has been healing for me. Moments spent in meditation, reading a book, or observing nature help turn off the noise of my rapid thoughts and provide me with peace. Growing up in an alcoholic home, I prayed for silence from the angry yelling, swearing, and loud music that often echoed throughout the house. When all became quiet, I knew it was time to lay my worries to rest on my pillow.

There were also times, though, when the silence in my life could be destructive. Silence was my punishment whenever I tried to verbally share my feelings. This silence was louder than any yelling, swearing, or loud music. A turned back or a dirty look was a common response to my pleas for the drinking to stop. All the anxiety, frustration, and loneliness that was building on the inside had nowhere to go. I learned to stop expressing my emotions and instead began to hold them in until they all came bursting out in waves of anger. I learned to try and drink my pain away with alcohol, and by the age of 15, I, too, had a drinking problem. Yet still, in my home, my problem was not acknowledged. Again, silence.

By the time I reached the legal drinking age of 21, I had quit drinking and found new, healthy ways to cope. I knew nobody at home was going to help me with my problem, and therefore, I had to “Let It Begin with Me.” Decades later, with one parent deceased and the other still drinking, I found that teenage girl who was full of anxiety, frustration, and loneliness resurfacing. I reached out to a local Al‑Anon family group and, for the first time, found support among people who understood what I was going through. With a simple response of “Thank you,” my feelings were safe and validated. I can trust that whenever I walk into an Al‑Anon meeting, the emotions I express will be heard and will never be silenced.

By Jennifer S., Michigan

The Forum, November 2021

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.