Tag Archives: June

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.

How Al-Anon works for me

When I first came to Al-Anon, I was so empty inside I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I couldn’t believe that my husband’s drinking was going to end the day he entered Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). He promised so many times to stop drinking, and now A.A. was going to help him and not me. As for our three children, I felt that I didn’t have any control over their behavior.

Slowly, I started to listen to the Al-Anon members in my weekly meeting. Gradually, I came to understand that alcoholism is a disease. I repeated over and over that I can’t control it, I did not cause it, and I can’t cure it. My group said, “Let A.A. take care of him, and let Al-Anon take care of you!”

Al-Anon helps me to look back on my behavior, particularly my behavior with my children. It was hard to admit that I probably harmed them more than my husband did. They knew their dad drank, but they wondered what was wrong with me.

When I heard people in Al-Anon share about growing up in an alcoholic home, it helped me realize that I, too, was a child of an alcoholic. This is what I brought into my marriage. I couldn’t blame everything on my husband anymore.

In the beginning, I used my Al-Anon group as my Higher Power. Today, I call God my Higher Power. God used my Al-Anon group to help me. Through God, and with Al-Anon’s help, I made it through a son’s attempted suicide, my parents’ death, the early pregnancy of a teenage son’s girlfriend, our two sons’ drinking and drug abuse, and going to court to fight for grandparents’ rights. Al-Anon has helped me keep my serenity.

Today, I am still in Al-Anon. I’ve held many service jobs in my group, district, and Area. I love reading the books and pamphlets of Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature. When my Al‑Anon friends share their stories, they give me a step-by-step approach on how to gain back my self-respect and self-esteem, and on how to keep them. The Al‑Anon program works, and I am proud to call myself an Al-Anon member.

 

By Carol R., Minnesota
The Forum, June 2016

My life was unmanageable and insane, only I didn’t know it

My life has been a journey; not always what I expected, but never anything I could not handle. I often think about how I got to be the person I am. I never realized the role alcohol had in all of it.

The first 25 years of my marriage were filled with progressing insanity. As my husband’s disease progressed, so did mine. Denial was my survival tool: ignore the drunken outburst; ignore crying children; ignore car accidents; and ignore verbal and physical abuse. My children were witnesses to all of it. My life was unmanageable and insane, only I didn’t know it. I began to lose my identity. I was the perfect enabler. I made sure everyone around me did not know my secret, or so I thought. I was in control. I made excuses, covered up, and made many deals to avoid the issue.

In 2000, I began to become unraveled, and my children were beginning to show signs of being affected by this family illness. My house was insane. When my husband’s car would pull in the driveway, everyone scattered to avoid him.

I confided to a friend that I could no longer stand it. I went to a therapist, who suggested Al‑Anon. I said, “Why do I need to go to Al-Anon? He has the problem and he needs A.A.” But off I went to the basement of the old church.

I can remember, like it was yesterday, how I felt: scared, nervous, embarrassed, alone, and worried I would know someone, or that I would have to speak. But what I found were people who were friendly, kind, inviting, and nonjudgmental. I felt safe. It is because of those people many years ago that I am in Al-Anon. Every time I see a newcomer, I am humbled and grateful for this program. Where would I be today?

As I continued to attend meetings, I realized these meetings were about me and for me, not him. For the next few months, the Serenity Prayer became my mantra. Practicing the Al-Anon principles and living with an active alcoholic was tough. Things were getting worse at home, but now I knew I had to get control of my home and my children.

One day, after a bad evening with my husband, my 16-year-old daughter wrote me a letter and said, “Either he goes or I go. I can’t live in this house.” That was my “aha” moment. No way was I letting her move out, so I gave my husband 48 hours to leave. He thought it was an idle threat. He bounced around to different family members, finally realizing he needed help. He went to rehab.

Well, I was glad I won. Al-Anon worked. Boundaries were set. He went to A.A and got sober. So I stopped going to Al-Anon. I still wasn’t happy. I couldn’t blame the alcohol anymore; he wasn’t drinking. My therapist, once again, sent me to Al-Anon.

This time, not only did I go back, I worked the program, did the Steps, used the slogans, read literature, got a Sponsor, and used the telephone list. Now, I was truly an active member of

Al-Anon, and lived the principles of the program every day of my life.

It has taken me many years to see that only I can be in control of my life and no one else. I am responsible for my actions and my happiness. This program has taught me self-care, how to do the Fourth Step, and to only take my own inventory. I no longer beat myself up for a slip; there is always tomorrow. One regret I continue to have is that I didn’t act soon enough to protect my children from this disease. I do know I did the best I could at the time. I am still a work in progress.

When an Al-Anon group was started at the church I attended, I thought, “Let me give this a try. It’s my parish and so close to home.” I was no longer afraid I might know someone. So I went and, for a couple of weeks, I was the only one there with the person who started it. But I persevered and today, 11 years later, we still meet every week with sometimes 25 people in attendance. This is my way of paying it forward. The experience, strength, and hope of every person who has walked through this door have helped me on this journey.

I will never forget how and why I am here. I am ever so grateful that my husband is sober 14 years and never had a slip. We are in this together, and both still committed to our programs “One Day at a Time.”

 

By Anonymous
The Forum, June 2016

Today, I know that love is unconditional

I grew up not knowing the difference between shame and guilt. Shame told me that I was fundamentally unworthy, insufficient, and unlovable: a “wrong” person. Guilt is what I feel when I make choices that disrupt the harmony between myself and my Higher Power, other people, or the universe.

My shame came from physical and emotional abuse suffered in childhood, a lack of validation and support at home, and a rule-oriented religious practice that seemed to say I could almost accidentally be damned. I also discovered, at age 11, that I was gay. I thought it was something horribly unique to me that made me an unfit human being. Feelings of shame and guilt made it very difficult for me. Since I saw myself as “wrong,” the hope of being a good person was hard to realize.

Shame robbed me of the thought that I could be loved. I didn’t see that I deserved love, which had a huge negative impact on my relationship with my Higher Power. God was a fierce judge, not a loving parent.

Shame meant I didn’t understand that love is unconditional. It seemed to me that God’s love came with many conditions and catches, and had to be earned. I thought this was true of human love, too. It led me to set conditions about whom and when I would love; conditions so impossible to meet that I couldn’t love freely.

In my months in Al-Anon, I have never felt judged by any other member. Instead, I received the message that I am loved just as I am, character defects and all. The first three Steps are teaching me how to trust my Higher Power, Al-Anon members and principles, and the universe.

I have learned that my Higher Power is there to help me grow and change; pick me up when I stumble or fall, and teach me that I am loved unconditionally.

I am not a finished product, but I am finding enough serenity in the Al-Anon program to make hope take root and grow. I am starting to feel some gratitude. I am learning to live without unreasonable fear. I am starting to feel love, and return it.

 

By Joe M., Kentucky
The Forum, June 2016