Tag Archives: September

Keep Coming Back

After an Al-Anon meeting one night, I stood outside the church in the freezing rain. Cars drove away, and people waved to each other with promises to meet next week. Once again, I felt deep despair because no one in the meeting was able to give me the answers I needed. I wanted a recipe for ensuring the sobriety of the alcoholic. I hoped for a prescription to put my shattered family back together and to enjoy a good night’s sleep without worrying about the next bounced check or overdue bill. Instead, a woman grasped my hands before I left, looked into my tear‑filled eyes and said, “Just ‘Keep Coming Back.’” Is she kidding? Why would I come back here? I thought as I drove home that night. I resolved not to go back.

But I did go back. I went back because of the urging of a friend who had been in these meetings for many years. And I went back because the literature I began reading told me that alcoholism is a disease and that there was nothing I could do to get my loved one sober. As I studied the Steps, worked with a Sponsor and continued to attend meetings, I learned that I could live life with hope and serenity with or without the sobriety of another.

That was over 30 years ago. I have learned a great deal about the disease of alcoholism, how to live with the alcoholics in my family and how to care for myself in order to live a fuller life. One of the things I do for my self‑care is to regularly attend meetings. And I try not to miss an opportunity to welcome newcomers. I grab their hands, look into their tear‑filled eyes and say, “Just ‘Keep Coming Back.’”

By Laura P., Colorado

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

Forgiving myself for my shortcomings

As a child, I felt I could do nothing right. My father was impatient and critical. I thought, “When I’m grown up, I’ll get it right.” My father’s parenting style was to point out everything that I did wrong, and nothing that I did right. I believe he thought he was helping me become a better person. Of course, I never got everything right, but it didn’t stop me from trying. I demanded too much of myself in striving for my father’s approval. This determination carried over into my roles as a wife, a mother, and an employee.

When I came to Al‑Anon, I heard many slogans and sayings: “Easy Does It,” “Let Go and Let God,” “Progress Not Perfection,” “expectations are resentments waiting to happen,” and “put your oxygen mask on yourself first.” They were perplexing. But I knew there had to be a better way to live, so I kept an open mind, listened at meetings, read Conference Approved Literature, and eventually found a Sponsor.

Once I realized I was expecting too much of myself, I eased up, threw away my lists, and became less pushy. I renounced my endeavors to be perfect. My change in attitude allowed me to forgive myself for my shortcomings. Then it became easier to let go of my expectations of others, and I was also able to forgive them for being human. It was a relief to begin making different choices in my life.

This domino effect led me to find serenity, and my peace of mind and happiness continued to escalate. My faith in Al‑Anon also increased, and I began to understand that my old slogans, such as “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” no longer served me. I recognized that I and others each have our own Higher Power, and I’m not it. My Higher Power started as Al‑Anon, and now it’s something more. “Keep Coming Back.”


By Shelley H., Pennsylvania
The Forum, September 2016

Change—a journey of ‘Progress Not Perfection’

Al-Anon is not a program of completion or destination. Two years ago, I entered the rooms of Al‑Anon distraught, confused, and looking for answers as to how to help my two sons who suffer from the family disease of addiction and alcoholism. I did not get what I wanted or expected, but I did get what I needed. Much has changed in the past two years, and yet much has stayed the same.

Though I have a program, I don’t always follow it. Though I have a Higher Power, I don’t always know His will for me. Though my sons are doing better, they still struggle with the family disease, and so do I. Though my husband and I both have program, we do not always see things the same way. Though sometimes my husband and I disagree, we can have an Al‑Anon meeting for two to work things out instead of forcing our individual wills. Though I never want to enable, I still want to help. Though sometimes the best thing to do is nothing, I still struggle with wanting to do something. Though I have a strong program and many tools, I still don’t understand or have all the answers. Though I have more faith, fear knocks at my door often. Though much has changed, some things are still the same.

I still make mistakes because I am not ready to do what I may know is best, and that makes me human and a work in progress. I know I am better than I was when I entered the program, but not exactly where I want to be. I have recovery, but I am not recovered. I will continue to come to meetings because what I know without question is you, my chosen family, will help me get to where I want to be.

Change is “Progress Not Perfection.” I get to work on my recovery every day, “One Day at a Time,” as long as I am open-minded, willing, and grateful for the lessons.


By Shelley G., Florida and Toronto
The Forum, September 2016

I found myself—in the midst of chaos

The most important day of my life was the day I walked into my first Alateen meeting. A week before, I was waiting for my guidance counselor in her office. I spotted a pamphlet that had an array of questions about alcoholism. At the bottom it said, “If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then Alateen is for you!” I answered “yes” to all the questions, and started on an amazing path to self-discovery and serenity.

The alcoholic in my life was my stepsister’s mom who came to live with my family because of her life troubles. I never saw her drunk. I only heard loud snoring and mumbling from the next room, and the stories my mom told me after we asked her to leave. All I saw was that she either never stopped moving or never started moving. When my stepsister lived with us, they would verbally abuse each other.

I always felt it was my job to mediate the situation because I was “mature.” It was my job to fix things. It was my job to help them get along, because if I didn’t, who would? It never worked, but I tried over and over again, hoping for a different result. I’ve learned in Alateen that my mission was in fact the definition of insanity. The end result was me feeling worthless. I always focused on them instead of myself. I didn’t even know how to focus on myself.

Before discovering Alateen, I struggled with depression and anxiety. There were times it got so bad that I was not able to get out of bed and go to school because I would be crying so much. I didn’t have any friends because I was not able to talk to people. During high school and the first few months at cosmetology school, I was that small-looking, unapproachable girl with a dark cloud over her head. This girl sat alone at lunch tables, refused group projects, and turned people away because she was afraid of rejection.

Alateen is the most amazing, eye-opening experience I’ve ever had. It is best described by one of my Sponsors who once said, “It is a safe place to find out who you are in the face of chaos.” Not only did the program help me with coping with the alcoholic, but everything I’ve learned can be applied to my daily life.

Although I do use and appreciate the Alateen slogans, the thing that resonated with me the most was what another Alateen member said—it wasn’t her job to fix other people’s problems. I jumped at that thought. I remember being truly amazed that it wasn’t my job to fix the alcoholic. I learned how to separate myself from the alcoholic’s situation. I learned to detach with love. I realized my actual job was to take care of myself.

My depression and anxiety have substantially subsided, and I have made real connections with other Alateen members. Every week, I become a better person just by showing up to my meeting. There is no way to explain how grateful I am for Alateen.


By Kayla F., CT
The Forum, September 2016