The crushing pain of watching our son spiral downward in his alcoholism and addiction became too much to endure. My wife and I had done all we could—detox, rehab, counseling, psychiatric care, new schools, new cars, yet the cycle of recovery and relapse continued.
The situation deteriorated to the point that I feared for his life. I thought I knew everything because I was a licensed physician. I administered narcotics and sedatives every day. Despite all the academic degrees, specialty certifications and licenses I possessed, I was an abject failure. I could resuscitate overdose victims, but I could not save my boy.
In desperation, I found my way to Al‑Anon on a late summer day. The parking lot’s sticky asphalt tugged at my shoes. My inner voice said, Don’t go in there; you don’t need this. You’re a grown man, a husband, a father and a doctor. You might meet someone you know—your reputation will be shot.
But I continued on to the meeting, the beginning of what would become a lifelong journey of self-discovery. I was met by a gentle lady who said, “We’ve all been through what you are going through.” Others said, “You’re in the right place,” and “You can find serenity here.” I didn’t believe them.
But I kept coming back, even after our beloved son was claimed by this hideous disease. As I approach my 70th birthday, I still come back twice a week to be strengthened by stories of trial and growth and of new insights, stories of learning new ways of living, even in the face of a loved one’s continued drinking and using. I “Keep Coming Back” because I can hold out a hand to those who still suffer, those who cross sticky parking lots or trudge through snow and ice as desperate for help as I was.
I “Keep Coming Back” because what I’ve learned here has helped me become a grateful, even joyful man. Today I am a man at peace, rather than the man consumed with rage and resentment I would have been without the help of Al‑Anon.
By Don B., Ohio
The Forum, February 2018