I first came to Al‑Anon looking for a way to “cure” my alcoholic wife, to convince those who enabled her of the seriousness of my wife’s disease, and to be reassured that I was not crazy. To my (as I later realized, pleasant) surprise, I was told that none of those things were what the program was about. The people at the meeting gently informed me that the program focused on me, not on what others did or thought. At first, this felt uncomfortable—how could I not focus on the actions of those close to me? But focusing on myself eventually grew into an unbelievable relief!
Much like my preliminary thoughts on what to expect from Al-Anon were skewed, I also originally thought just coming into the rooms of Al‑Anon meant I had completed my First Step: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” After all, I never knew a greater powerlessness than having my son be born into an alcoholic home, nor a greater unmanageability than feeling the constant need to protect my son from the alcoholic and even the alcoholic from herself. I was at the point of utter exhaustion.
After some initial struggles, this distorted view of Step One was gently nudged in the correct direction by my fellow Al‑Anon members. While I had realized I was powerless and that my life was unmanageable, I was still falling into old habits of trying to assert my will to control and manipulate situations.
With the help of the program and my fellow Al‑Anon members, I learned to avoid getting into unhealthy situations by biting my tongue, not trying to rationalize the irrational, and not taking the alcoholic’s behavior personally. The loving help I received early on in my program, through both struggles and successes, helped lay the foundation for continued recovery in my life.
By Michael M., Ohio
The Forum, October 2022
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.