Tag Archives: 2017

My Difficulties Led Me to a Place of Abundance

My feelings of “lack” all connected to events that occurred in my childhood alcoholic home. The fighting, drunkenness and disorder all confirmed to me that there was not enough love, peace, sanity, money or even the basic needs to lead a successful life. There were fleeting moments when I got a glimpse of a broader, more abundant world, but I would quickly retreat back into what seemed like a normal and safe view. I thought there would never be enough of anything for me, and that I was some kind of a mistake.

Through practicing Al-Anon principles, I have learned that I am not a mistake and that my life is exactly what it is supposed to be. None of the events of my childhood or adult life in alcoholic relationships were sent as punishment, but as a path to enlightenment. I’ve learned that a “good” life can be a wasted life and that difficulties can lead me to a place of abundance. Unconditional love is available to me when I open my heart and give from a place of abundance. Today abundance begins deep inside me and spreads from there to affect all of the external relationships and circumstances in my life.

By Bette R., Oregon
The Forum, June 2017

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

I Became Willing To Surrender

I didn’t realize how deeply I was affected by alcoholism until I went to Al‑Anon. When I was living in it, around it and next to it, I simply became a part of it and I became an expert at my own role. My role? Let’s fix it before anyone finds out! The trouble was, nothing remained fixed. My frustration and resentment were covered up with denial and determination, accented with my need to control.

One of the first things I learned in Al‑Anon was that I was powerless, and, if anything, I was controlled by the alcoholic. After months of struggling with the First Step, I finally accepted how unmanageable my life had become. When I finally admitted I was powerless and my life had become unmanageable, what followed was a sense of freedom. I no longer felt responsible for the alcoholic.

It was only then that I became aware of not only how stubborn I was, but how strong-willed I had become. Me, surrender? No way was I giving up, because that meant I had failed. I would rather die trying!

I can laugh about that now, because my journey became an endless battle of letting go and taking it back. When I finally did surrender, not only to my powerlessness, but to the Al‑Anon program and my Higher Power, life became much easier.

The freedom that followed gave me the ability to finally let go of what I was not responsible for and move forward to a life of discovering who I was. No longer does my past dictate who I am, but I allow it to be a part of who I am becoming.

Today, I owe everything I am or hope to be to the God of my understanding. He works through Al‑Anon and all those He puts in my life. I am slowly giving the alcoholics in my life their dignity and the right to live as they choose. I’m learning to respect their feelings, their rights and their decisions along with my own. I believe today that God has a plan for each of us, and no one has the right to interfere—least of all me!

By Anne F., Ontario
The Forum, June 2017

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

The Beginning of My Serenity

I spent more nights than I can remember lying awake, tossing and turning over past mistakes and the ever-growing fear of the future with an alcoholic. I would wake in the middle of the night and not be able to return to sleep. I agonized over the seemingly horrible decisions of my past, which morphed into the blackness of despair for my hopeless future.

Each new fear replaced another as my nightmare scenarios increased exponentially. My Sponsor lovingly listened to my pitiful story. When I finally paused for a breath, she made two simple suggestions—say the Serenity Prayer, and make a gratitude list.

I knew my decision to attend Al‑Anon was a realization that I needed help, and I was ready to listen. That night when I was still wrapped in a cloak of victimhood and couldn’t sleep, I tried repeating the Serenity Prayer over and over, each time focusing on every word and its meaning. Eventually, I began a gratitude list. I did not believe I had much to be grateful for, so I began with a very simple list.

I was grateful for a warm, comfortable bed to sleep in, a roof over my head, the coolness of air on my skin, the soothing sound of the fan next to my bed, etc. Focusing on the many things for which I did feel gratitude, I fell soundly asleep and woke up refreshed the next morning.

Today, looking back, I realize this was the beginning of my serenity, the beginning of my recovery and the beginning of a whole new life of gratitude.

By Keith K., Florida
The Forum, May 2017

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

Choosing Whether to Ride the Roller Coaster

Loving an alcoholic is like being on a roller coaster. The ride involves unexpected twists and turns, and things can get very scary. One moment I’m riding high and enjoying the view, and in the next instant, I am plunging to new depths. Just when I think the ride has come to an end, it seems I am taken on another crazy adventure. At times, things are upside down, and I feel like throwing up or jumping off the ride.

There definitely is a thrill to being on the roller coaster of crisis and chaos—it’s exciting, dramatic and distracting. The experience gets my adrenaline going and makes me feel alive. However, the roller coaster has a dark side. I forget to take care of myself, and I neglect other important responsibilities. I can get so used to being on the ride that I forget to put my feet on the ground once in a while.

Al‑Anon has helped me know that I have a choice today about whether I stay on the ride. I can even leave the amusement park if I so choose. It’s okay to take a break from the roller coaster and catch my breath.

By Christina S., Ohio
The Forum, May 2017

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

Finding hope at my first Al-Anon meeting

When I started coming to Al‑Anon over 20 years ago, I had no light, no hope in my life. I had been married almost a year when I walked through the doors of my first meeting. Everything on that day felt like darkness and despair to me.

During the meeting, I remember the lighting in the room as being dim. The atmosphere seemed to add to my mood. I remember thinking, “How could these people, sitting around a table—actually smiling—understand what I was experiencing?” I felt I desperately needed to quickly find a solution to help me handle what appeared at that time to be an insurmountable problem in my life!

As I searched the eyes of those sitting around the table, I had a strange sense that I was in the right place. Although just sitting in the chair at the table was challenging for me, I tried my best to focus and listen, to take it all in. I wanted to feel something. My mind kept whirling. I asked myself what was going to happen to us, what would the future bring, and could or would my life ever change? I had no hope.

I heard someone read a passage from a pamphlet that I found out later was titled, Understanding Ourselves & Alcoholism (P-48). The words that resonated with me then included:

“Perhaps the most severe damage to those of us who have shared some part of life with an alcoholic comes in the form of the nagging belief that we are somehow at fault. We may feel it was something we did or did not do—that we were not good enough, not attractive enough, or not clever enough to have solved this problem for the one we love. These are our feelings of guilt.”

Ahhh . . . feelings of guilt got my attention. My solution that night was to buy Al‑Anon literature, take it home, read it, and figure out what I needed to do. Luckily, I couldn’t figure out what to do on my own. I did find hope in the pages I read and the courage to keep coming back to Al‑Anon meetings. I was grateful at each meeting for the presence of the other members.

Although this was a very dark period in my life, I am aware that if it had not been for the presence of those smiling members at my first meeting, I would not be where I am today—thankful to be a part of the hope for those seeking our fellowship now and in the future!

By Marsha W., Director of Programs
The Forum, April 2017

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

My closet, myself

Several years ago, I looked at my closet. It was a mess, everything in disarray. I couldn’t find anything. I didn’t know where to begin to sort it out. My closet seemed a reflection of me. I was a mess, at a loss. Where and how could I begin to change things?

Then I found Al‑Anon. I began to realize that the clutter in my closet reflected the clutter in my mind. I couldn’t sort things through. At meetings, I learned I didn’t have to do everything at once, whether in cleaning my closet or in straightening out my thoughts.

I could take baby steps. I started with my shoes. There they were, that one great-looking pair. The downside was the pain they caused me when I wore them. I had to give them away. Some people in my life were also causing me pain. Al‑Anon taught me I could rethink those relationships and, in the end, do what was best for me.

Next, I looked at my clothes, many of which were not a good fit. I could donate what wasn’t working for me anymore and keep what made me feel good. I learned in Al‑Anon if a situation didn’t feel right, I could make a change. When I changed the way I looked at things I could make a better decision.

As I cleaned out my closet, I could find things more easily. At the same time, my mind was getting more organized. When my side of the closet looked pretty good, I started to take inventory of my husband’s side, but in Al‑Anon I learned I could only change myself.

Now my closet is neat most of the time. Sometimes I fall back I into old habits and it gets a little messy. I realize that life can be messy; it is matter of seeking “Progress not Perfection.” So, I continue to go to meetings, read literature, practice the Steps and Traditions, speak to others in the program, and do service. By practicing my program, I have found serenity and have a really nice closet as well.

By Arlene L., Florida
The Forum, April 2017

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