I learned many new things in my first year attending Al‑Anon. One of the most important was to find a home group. It should have been easy. I was a single college student living alone, so I had no family commitments, few job responsibilities and no social life. I had plenty of character defects, though, and some of them worked against my own interests. For example, I had an extremely opinionated demeanor. I had strong opinions about how long others should share during meetings, how the Chairperson should read the closing, when the collection should be passed and just about anything else a person could have an opinion about. I was also quick to get angry, so angry sometimes that I would decide to quit going.
Luckily, I never followed through. My need to try to control the meeting was greater than my desire to quit, so I kept coming back. Clearly, I needed the help Al‑Anon had to offer!
During my first Fourth Step inventory, my Sponsor helped me see that my strong opinions amounted to a form of dominance. She also helped me see that this behavior was a response to my fear that others would ruin the meeting and, as a result, I would not get the help I needed. Rather than continue to be adversarial, she encouraged me to make the group my home group.
I learned that a home group is one in which I commit to participate, rather than try to control. For me, this meant taking my volatile feelings out of my decisions and focusing on principles, instead. I also learned that the principles of a home group are steady. They include making regular meeting attendance a priority, regardless of how I feel about it, having a service position, but stepping down from it when my term ends, and being an informed participant in business meetings, rather than just a vocal one.
As my recovery grew, so did my commitment to my home group. Although I added other meetings to my regular schedule, my home group was the one I looked forward to going to the most. I knew everyone there and everyone knew me. It was a community with familiarity and shared memories. The unexpected spiritual benefit of this was that it became possible for me to return to the meeting, no matter what, even after I made mistakes, experienced personal failure, got angry with God, changed Sponsors and experienced a dozen other small tragedies. In the past, such things often led me to run away and never come back. However, my commitment to my home group means I can always come back, no matter what.
By Kerri K.—Associate Director, International