There it was again. I’d seen that door at least four times before, without ever stepping through it. I had driven by when meetings were about to start, hoping to get a glimpse of the type of people who went to Al-Anon. This time my son volunteered to go with me, so I couldn’t turn back now. It was time to actually walk through the door.
My family and my life had become so dysfunctional that there was entirely too much “dys” and not nearly enough “function.” My life resembled a grossly entangled fishing reel. Little did I know what peace and happiness I’d find on the other side of that door.
What I found was a new way of looking at things. While I was aware of the negative impact others had on me, I was completely oblivious to the negative impact I had on them. I learned it was much healthier for all of us if I’d take my attention off of the alcoholic/addict in our family and begin to focus on me.
For me, the real growth came at Step Four, as I took a hard look at my defects of character. At the time, I didn’t think I had any. I thought I was a misunderstood martyr, suffering for loving others. Oh, brother! Then, like an anvil falling on my bare toe, God not only showed me I indeed had defects of character, but the huge role they’ve played in my life.
As I began to read the Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature and listen to what others were saying at meetings, I slowly began to grow. As I related to different subjects (resentment, self-pity, despair, smugness, worry, etc.), I began to see that they were my defects of character, as well. As I struggled with difficulties in my life, I soon began to see it was due to a specific defect of character.
My life really began to change when I’d write down what I was learning through Al-Anon for each defect of character. Now, when one rears its ugly head, I only have to either remember or go back to my lists of defects to read what I’ve learned, and amazingly, it’s over just as fast as it started. My day is no longer ruined. I’ve recognized that I’m flawed just as everyone else is. My happiness isn’t controlled by circumstances, but from within, and dealing with my defects of character.
Today, I have a new door in front of me called “making amends.” I must admit it looks a little intimidating. But you know what? I think I’ll walk through that one as well.
By Jay K., Nebraska
The Forum, November 2015
Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.