I was attending a meeting where the group was studying How Al-Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics (B-32). The person reading the text aloud misread the line “I continued to work my program” as “I continued to work my problem.” I was glad we were meeting online and my microphone was muted so I didn’t disrupt the meeting when I laughed out loud.
As I thought about the difference between working the Al‑Anon program and “working my problem,” I remembered when I first attended Al‑Anon and didn’t understand how the tools of the program could help me. In those early days, I “worked my problem” by: obsessing about the alcoholic’s drinking, drug use, and destructive behaviors; waking in the middle of the night with my mind racing; waiting for the dreaded phone calls; fretting and trying to force him to get to school or work on time; and feeling knots in my stomach whenever it was time to discuss anything with him.
Gradually, as I continued to attend meetings, I learned that the Serenity Prayer can be useful to slow my racing mind so I can go back to sleep. I learned that sometimes I may need to read Al‑Anon literature or something spiritual to help me meditate and stop the obsessive thinking. I learned I don’t have to answer those calls; I can call back when I am ready to hear about and respond to whatever is happening in his life. His problem does not have to become my problem. Getting him to school or work is not my job. Natural consequences are more appropriate and effective than my nagging. Discussions go better when I can calmly say what I mean without saying it in a mean way. These are a few of the Al‑Anon tools I have learned to use. They help me work through a problem by working my Al‑Anon program.
I’m glad that I can laugh about occasionally still “working my problem.” Now, however, I have a good grasp of the Al‑Anon tools and can more quickly get back to working the program! I can live a happier, more balanced life.
By Golda C., Oregon
The Forum, April 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.