I was suffering in a verbally abusive relationship—not my first—when I attempted to join Al-Anon. I’d heard that it could help me with my problems. I went to a meeting and asked a woman afterward if I had to know someone who drank to join. She said I did. Disheartened, I phoned the central office in my Area and asked the same question. I received the same response.
Ten years and two more abusive, obsessive relationships later, I dragged myself to an Al-Anon meeting hoping I finally qualified. The latest relationship disaster was with a man who’d decided to stop drinking 13 years earlier. I didn’t know if that meant he was an alcoholic, but I decided that had to be enough to get me through the door. I was desperate.
To my relief, no one asked me for my credentials. The woman I asked to sponsor me didn’t ask me if I knew any alcoholics. Eventually I told her what had happened ten years earlier. She shook her head in dismay and told me that if anyone came to the meetings and related, they needed to be there.
I’ve attended meetings and worked the Steps for more than five years now, and the program has changed my life. I still don’t know if there are any alcoholics in my family, but I suppose I really do qualify because I’m in a wonderful relationship with a man who has been sober in A.A. for eleven years.
Needless to say, I welcome newcomers with open arms, and if they ask me if they belong in Al-Anon I tell them that’s up to them to decide. I encourage them to try out different meetings and tell them that if they feel like they belong, they belong.
I know now that I did qualify all those years ago. Every one of those earlier, difficult relationships had been with adult children of alcoholics. Alcoholism had most definitely and profoundly affected my life. I just didn’t know it at the time.