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Self-Care Replaced Fear and Anxiety

Growing up in an alcoholic home, I learned to focus on how my dad came home and whether my mom was going to be sad or angry. I learned to worry about my sister when she didn’t come home at night, and I learned to do things for other people that they could very well do for themselves. I was full of fear and anxiety, and I didn’t sleep or eat well. I tried to be quiet when my dad was home, and I tried to comfort my mom when she was upset. But I had no idea what my own needs were and couldn’t see a future for myself. My Sponsor would listen to all my woes and then ask me what I was going to do that day to take care of myself. I would come up with something like take a walk or watch a movie. The next day, she would ask how the walk or movie had been. I began to learn what my needs were, to take the focus off others and to place it on myself. And life started to improve.

By working through the Steps, I was able to quiet my anxiety and fear. I talked with my Sponsor, instead of trying to get comfort from people who weren’t capable of giving it. I learned how to mind my own business and to take care of myself every day. Today I continue to talk with my Sponsor, do written Step work and attend meetings. I take care of myself by eating and sleeping well, minding my own business and helping others in Al‑Anon. Those simple steps I took in my early recovery continue to be a source of comfort and growth for me. I am forever grateful to Al‑Anon for giving me a wonderful, useful life.

By Heleen B., Montana

The Forum, December 2017

I Put the Focus on Myself

When my 15-year-old son began drinking, I would stay up and wait for him. The happy young son who loved to play the piano after dinner and read lots of books in the living room was now angry and stayed out until midnight on a good night. Or he didn’t come home at all on nights like this one.

One night at 3 am, I looked out of the living room window, the room dimly lit by a small lamp. I looked straight into my own eyes through the reflection in the glass. It was just like the years I spent when I was growing up. I would get on my bed at home and kneel. I would look out the window to see if my sister was coming home.

I knew I couldn’t do this again and that I needed help. I had suffered alone growing up. With my son, the pain was unbearable. I couldn’t understand why his attitudes had changed at home and school. Blame and confusion filled my days.

The eyes in the window pleaded, Help me! In the morning, I called an Al‑Anon contact number and was directed to a local meeting.

I had no idea what Al‑Anon was. There I found a home and a place to heal from the shame and guilt I felt. It was the first time I heard that I was powerless over alcoholism and shown how to take care of myself.

By Lorraine H., New Mexico

Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.