I came to Al-Anon Family Groups at the suggestion of my ex-boyfriend, a recovering alcoholic.

Our relationship was rocky, and I blamed him for it. I wanted him to change to make me happy, but I was unsuccessful at changing him no matter how hard I tried. His recovery and program were a priority in his life and I didn’t understand it. Our relationship was lacking some of the fundamental elements I desperately needed.

Although I was ready to dissolve my relationship with my boyfriend when I first came to Al-Anon, I took members’ suggestion to wait six months before making such a decision. I was told that after a few months of recovery, my perspective, attitude, and reactions would change and give me the tools to make a better decision.

I began working the Al-Anon program. During the first few months, I attended several meetings a week, found a Sponsor, took service commitments within the groups, read the literature, and kept in touch with members on the phone.

It didn’t take long for me to recognize my part in the dysfunctional relationship. I became aware that my needs and behavior patterns were a result of having been deeply affected by alcoholism: I was once engaged to an active alcoholic but never recovered from that relationship. I also became aware that the disease ran in my family.

Slowly, my relationship with my boyfriend seemed to be getting better because I stopped trying to force my will on him. I stopped reacting. It wasn’t easy, but with the help and encouragement of my Sponsor and other Al-Anon members, I began to focus on myself instead of him.

As I got better, I slowly began to discover that the only person who can make me happy is me. I began to take care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I reconnected with my Higher Power.

A point came in our relationship where I felt that “this is as good as it gets,” but I still wanted more. Because of his alcoholism, I accepted that he simply didn’t have it to give. I didn’t know what to do. I loved him and wanted him in my life, but was miserable. My emotional needs weren’t met, and our life together was without a future. Furthermore, he completely depended on me; I knew I was enabling him, but I didn’t know how to stop being the caretaker.

Realizing my powerlessness, I turned the situation over to my Higher Power. I surrendered. It was the only thing I could do.

It was an overwhelming feeling. I trusted my Higher Power, who guided me in the next few months. He helped me find a way to break my unhealthy patterns, remain friends with my ex-boyfriend, and be free to move on with my life. I felt as if I was being carried by a Power greater than myself, and I wasn’t devastated as I feared I would be.

Today, my ex-boyfriend and I are still very close. Without me pushing, interfering, enabling, and controlling, he is able to work his own program better, take care of himself, and live his own life. We managed to keep what was good between us and let go of the bad. For that I will be forever grateful.

The best compliment I get is when my ex tells me how proud he is of me for how I work the program. I have been in Al-Anon 16 months now. I attend four meetings a week, diligently work the Steps, read the literature daily, work with my Sponsor, and keep in touch with Al-Anon members. I also sponsor others and work at the Information Service Office. I often speak at other meetings and try to give back what Al-Anon has given me: a new chance on relationships.

For the first time in my life I am in a relationship that is very healthy. As a result of working the Steps, I was also able to put the past behind me, forgive, and let go of old resentments. Now my relationships with my family members are the best they have ever been.

By Tami P., New York