I remember calling the Al‑Anon answering service so I could speak to a member. It was a relief to find someone who understood what I was going through. However, I didn’t want to go to meetings because I didn’t think other people would understand; I thought my situation was different. Furthermore, I was so used to being isolated that I was fearful of being around people at meetings. Talking to an Al‑Anon member on the phone was a major step forward for me to get help and information. I wasn’t yet willing or ready to make a commitment to my recovery by going to a meeting. Making those calls calmed me down until my next frantic emergency. But I did not have basic information about the program or member stories to motivate me to follow through with what the member on the phone was encouraging me to do—go to a meeting.

My misconceptions worked against me. I justified not going to meetings by telling myself, it’s really a religious program. What if someone knows my husband? No one will understand me. So, I continued to drag myself further down the rabbit hole of despair with my thinking and behavior. But today, it can be different for families and friends of alcoholics because of the Al‑Anon Faces Alcoholism (AFA) magazine. It provides basic information about Al‑Anon, member stories and articles by professionals. Members distribute the magazine at the offices of professionals.

Each year, members are invited to submit their stories for potential newcomers for the next issue. People unfamiliar with our program find encouragement and motivation from sharings such as “These People are Just Like Me,” “It’s Not Your Fault” and “Al‑Anon Saved My Sanity.” Your AFA story can be short (between 50 and 300 words). It can give someone else the gift of our program. An AFA Writing Guideline is enclosed in this issue or you can submit your story electronically to wso@al-anon.org with AFA in the subject line. I thank my Higher Power each time I see a newcomer arrive at a meeting with a copy of AFA. I get chills, and it is not from the air conditioner!

By Claire R., Associate Director—Professionals

The Forum, September 2018