Sometimes I struggle a bit to find words to articulate what is happening with me at any particular time. Whether I am sitting in a meeting or completing my Step Eleven prayer and meditation in the morning, I find myself feeling just a little blank. For me, this emptiness is an extremely uncomfortable feeling. Before recovery, my solution to this discomfort was to get busy—not in the positive, balanced way encouraged by our program, but with “human doing.” Work always called, and when that failed, I could focus my attention on taking care of others, even when they didn’t ask!
The holiday season sometimes leaves me feeling similar—somewhat empty and alone. Family time and traditions can be wonderful, but for those of us living with or visiting family or friends struggling with active alcoholism, the experience can be challenging and isolating. Faced with such emptiness, my old behavior of escaping into doing seems very appealing—certainly, there’s a work email I need to answer right now!
At this time of year, I’m especially grateful for the reminder that my Al‑Anon program offers me simple solutions to overcome my feelings, many of which I can apply without others even being aware. I can ask for my Higher Power’s help. I can sit with the discomfort, remembering that “this too shall pass.” I can read Conference Approved Literature—whether electronic or printed—opening to the page my Higher Power selects for my aid.
In Al‑Anon, I have also learned that I have the choice to leave situations when I am uncomfortable. I can find a private space to call a program friend or my Sponsor and share what is going on. I can attend a meeting in person, on the Al-Anon Family Groups Mobile App, or online—and experience reminds me the topic will be just what I need to hear!
What I find often works best to fill my emptiness is being of service to others. I can fully engage in listening to a family member or friend without offering advice or trying to fix their problem. I can text a heart emoji to someone I sponsor, letting them know I’m thinking about them at the holidays and inviting them to join me at a meeting or for a call. I can go to a meeting and give another member a hug or offer to serve in a small way, like reading the day’s daily reader at my electronic home group.
So just for the holidays, I will remember these tools and the choices Al‑Anon has helped me to discover. I will give myself permission to ask for help and to be of service to others, whichever tool appeals in the circumstance to release the emptiness sometimes created by the family disease of alcoholism. And I will pray that the understanding, love, and peace of the program may grow in all of us throughout the season “One Day at a Time”!
By Vali F., Executive Director