The Forum is an international monthly publication of Al-Anon Family Groups, that offers help and hope for the families and friends of alcoholics.  Al-Anon and Alateen members share their challenges, insights, and progress along their path of self-discovery and spiritual growth.  The magazine also includes topics for discussion at meetings as well as news and information from Al-Anon's World Service Conference and World Service Office. To order your subscription click External link opens in new tab or windowHere

The following  articles are reprinted from the August 2022 issue, with permission of  The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA

Hurting, Healing, Helping         by Jim M., Ohio

     Before I entered the rooms of Al-Anon, I lived by the motto "Whatever does not kill me makes me stronger."  Funny, huh?  The reality was that I ended up getting hurt over and over again.  Being beat up repeatedly - either emotionally, mentally, or spiritually - oftentimes left me in a weakened state.  I had only rudimentary tools to prevent myself from being hurt.

     I came to Al-Anon over 11 years ago, hurting and weakened beyond what I had ever experienced before.  My son was found by campus police, drunk, passed out, and exposed to the elements.  Al-Anon helped me distinguish what hurt was mine and what was his (detachment), trust in my Higher Power and ask for His help, and recognize the difference between helping and enabling my son.  Intellectually, I understood these concepts, but it was far different to feel and live them.  By going to meetings, getting a Sponsor, reading the literature, learning about and using the Al-Anon tools, and relying on the slogans and the Serenity Prayer, I started to heal and grow.

     Five years ago, I learned that my son had been arrested and jailed out of state for another alcohol-related offense.  It almost felt like I was two people: one was the taking-care-of-business dad who made the phone calls and arrangements to get him an attorney, to get him released from hail, etc.  Once he was released, I handed over any further legal responsibilities to him.  The second was dad-as-an-emotional-mess.  I was hurting deeply again, but not as deeply or for as long as I had been when I entered the program.

     For me, healing is a process.  It is not complete and may never become so entirely.  But the wounds get smaller every time I say yes to the chance to grow by facing a challenge.  I do not have to do it alone now.  I have my Higher Power, my Sponsor, my Al-Anon friends, my wife (who is also in Al-Anon), and my son.  I now come from an attitude of gratitude for this family disease.  If I did not have it, I would not have recovery either.  I feel blessed to be able to share my recovery and to offer a listening ear to others in order to help them find what I have found: the blessing of going from hurting to healing to helping.

Hope for a Future with My Son         by Carol H., Florida

     Before I came to AL-Anon, I thought my son's drinking was never going to end.  I was either going to have to find a way to stop it or totally give him up and never see him again.  That's how it was in my mind - all or nothing.  When I got desperate enough, I found my way to Al-Anon.  You showed me that there are other solutions and that if I kept coming back, I might learn to look at the situation in a different light.  I did keep coming, and you were right.

     I found a glimmer of hope, and when I surrendered to a Higher Power, that glimmer grew into a ray of sunshine.  I started by using the slogans, reading the literature, and working the Steps.  By changing myself and my attitudes, I found hope - hope for a future with my son in which I could love and respect him whether he was drinking or not.  I could detach from the disease and care for him unconditionally.  I "Let Go and Let God" until my son's Higher Power got him into recovery and sobriety.  I also learned, with God's help, a whole new way of living - the Al-Anon way.  Now instead of feeling powerless and helpless, I am filled with hope, faith and trust.

Weakening the Impact of Alcoholism        by BJ, New Jersey

     Growing up in a home with active alcoholism permanently stained my soul.  But in Al-Anon, I've learned that even though I can't change my past, I'm not hopeless.  Maybe because tea is my favorite beverage, this image helps me understand that the impact of alcoholism can be diminished.

     Once I put a teabag into a cup of hot water, nothing is going to get the tea out of the water again.  However, if I pour that tea into a bigger container - a bathtub, for instance - and then fill the tub with clean water, the tea will still be in the water, but the effects of the tea will be greatly weakened.  The more fresh water I add, the weaker the tea-like characteristics become.

     Every time I go to a meeting, read the AL-Anon literature, talk to a program friend, or connect with the God of my understanding, I'm adding fresh water to my tea-stained heart and soul.  The impact of alcoholism will never be completely gone, but its power to color my life continues to fade as I "Keep Coming Back."