Walking through the doors of my first Al-Anon meeting, I was concerned I was different and wouldn’t belong. I didn’t have a spouse or boyfriend who was drinking. I was not trying to cure someone else’s alcoholism. I knew I was causing my problems, but I had lost all hope of finding a solution.
What I didn’t know then, but gratefully understand today, is that I grew up in the family disease of alcoholism. Since alcohol had always been part of everyday life, I did not suspect it as the problem. The alcoholism in my family background, however, had provided the foundation for negative patterns of behavior in my life, which haunted me until I came to Al-Anon Family Groups.
It was my counsellor’s recommendation that I “find support from people other than those involved in my immediate drama” that led me to Al-Anon. She felt that I had grown significantly through counselling but that I needed a support system to sustain my efforts between sessions. So, I researched and found the questions on the Al-Anon website to which I answered mostly, “Yes.” But, still I was concerned I wouldn’t belong.
What I discovered at that first meeting in Canada and throughout my later experience at meetings around the globe is that Al-Anon Family Groups is a diverse fellowship of people seeking help and support in living with another’s alcoholism. Groups consist of grandparents, parents, spouses and siblings, along with others who have been affected by the disease. We all share the message of hope that comes from practicing the Twelve Steps and being of service to others.
Today my life is full of hope. My commitment to using the principles of the program has enabled me to have a vibrant career, which this year led me to become the Executive Director of Al-Anon Family Groups. Al-Anon tools also helped me improve my parenting skills. The program is designed to help with all aspects of life.
If you are wondering whether you belong in Al-Anon, why not come to a meeting—be it in your local community, online or by phone? Al-Anon meetings occur globally and 24/7 through electronic formats—and they are all free. Members will welcome you and encourage you to decide for yourself whether the program can help you with your circumstances.
Executive Director, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.