Looking back, I realize that Al‑Anon saved my life, though at the time, I did not know my life was in danger. Seeing how far I have come makes me grateful to Al‑Anon. I was drowning in fear and worry. Because I lacked any self-esteem, I had no idea who I was or what I liked.

I had no idea that being a child of an absent alcoholic father had colored my life to such an extent. Thank goodness, I kept coming back every week. One day in an Al‑Anon meeting, the Chairperson asked us to consider what we would say to ourselves if we could go back in time and talk to ourselves as a newcomer walking into a meeting for the first time. I believe I would say this to myself:

“Dear Mary,

This is going to be the best gift you could ever give yourself. You will come to love all of these strangers in a special way. You will learn you already have everything you need; it has just been covered up. You will change the way you think and will see yourself in the light of your Higher Power, not in the light of your fears. You will see that you are not what you were told. You are not stupid. You are enough. You will find your voice that you stuffed for so many years. You will find your feelings that have been frozen and will learn to cry and laugh. You will learn to understand the people in your life through the light of the Al‑Anon program and will be able to love them and see their beauty and struggles. Yet, you will be able to take care of yourself. You will come to put yourself first, knowing that doing so is not being arrogant, but the right thing to do. You will find joy, peace, confidence and the ability to feel fully. You will love and be loved in a very special way.”

By Mary D., Florida