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 March 2023 issue, with permission of  The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA

Sometimes Miracles Happen       by Denise C., Saskatchewan

     I am the oldest child of two alcoholics.  That statement tells you a lot about some of the ways the family disease of alcoholism shows up in my life - controlling, caretaking, and people-pleasing being at the top of the list.  When I was six years old, my only brother was born, and he became my responsibility.  I have spent a lifetime being told to take care of my brother.  I believed that it was my job to make sure his needs were met and that he was okay.

     He has spent a lifetime perceiving himself as a victim, believing that he couldn't take care of himself.  He lived with our dad all his adult life until Dad passed away.  He dropped out of school and has alternated between low-paying jobs and periods of unemployment.  He has been homeless off and on and bounced from one crisis to another.

     My Dad's deathbed wish was for me to promise to "take care" of my brother, and I have always tried to keep that promise, swooping in whenever he was in crisis to help him, for instance, buy a car, find a place to live, apply for social assistance, get a job, or pay his phone bill.  After many years in Al-Anon, you would think I would know how to "Let Go and Let God" take care of my brother as I learned to do with the alcoholics in my life.

     But the challenge for me was that my brother is not an alcoholic or addict.  He has no diagnosed mental illness.  But, like me, he is a child of alcoholic parents.  My sponsor told me that some people affected by this disease just fail to launch.  My brother is one of them.  I have spent a lifetime trying to launch him into my version of a better life for him.

     Several months ago, my brother lost yet another job and began circling the drain towards homelessness once again.  This time, with the help of my sponsor, my Al-Anon friends, the tools of the program, and the grace of my Higher Power, I have been able to detach from his situation and quit trying to control the outcome.  I talked to him when he called, but during those conversations, I did not grill him about what he was doing to fix his situation nor did I offer to help solve his problems.  I did not shame or berate him.  i kept the conversations civil and pleasant.  This was not easy for me, but with constant repetition of "Let Go and Let God" as my mantra, I am finally coming to believe that my brother's life and its outcome are not my responsibility.

     And sometimes, miracles happen!  My brother called a few days ago to say that he got a job, on his own, without my help (aka interference)!  The gratitude and relief I feel is overwhelming.  I do not know how long this job will last or what the future holds, but right now I am so very proud of him.  And I am proud of myself and the growth I have achieved by using the tools of the Al-Anon program.  "One Day at a Time", I am learning to "Let Go and Let God" take care of my brother.

What Changed My Life    by Rachelle C., Minnesota

     I was first introduced to Al-Anon when I was in my early 30s and my husband entered treatment.  "Introduced" might not be the right word.  The family counsellor at the treatment center gave me a One Day at a Time in Al-Anon (B-6) daily reader and told me in no uncertain terms that I needed Al-Anon.

     I would have done anything to help my husband get well, so I went.  I soon found out Al-Anon was not for getting my husband sober, but for finding myself.  For the next ten years, I survived with the love, fellowship, and wisdom I found in the program.  My husband had periods of sobriety followed by relapse and despair.  I thought I was working a program, but actually, I was just showing up to meetings.  I did use the slogans and followed basic Al-Anon guidance, but I was holding on by my fingertips until the next crisis came along.

     What happened next changed my life and unlocked the door to true peace and serenity.  Three things occurred within a week of each other.  First, my husband found AA, and started working a strong program.  For the first time in our marriage, he seemed to be healthier than me, and I wanted what he had found in AA.  Second, I heard a great Al-Anon speaker talking about how working the Steps with a sponsor, in addition to attending meetings, was key to her recovery.  I did not have a sponsor and had never worked the steps outside the metings.  I wanted what she had found in Al-Anon.

     The third thing that happened was that a woman I knew who was really suffering asked me to be her Al-Anon sponsor and walk her through the steps.  I knew I wanted her to find relief, peace, and serenity through the program, but I did not know how to help her do something I had not done.  So, with these three nudges from my Higher Power, I found a new group that worked the steps with sponsors.  My Al-Anon program and my life began to change as the miracle of recovery unfolded for me through living the steps and practicing the principles of Al-Anon outside my meetings.

     My wish for anyone who hasn't already done it is that you would ask someone to be your sponsor and walk with you through the 12 Steps of Al-Anon.  And when you reach

Step 12, I hope you will share this message with others by offering to be a sponsor and walk with others through the steps.  That is what has made all the difference for me!

Reclaiming Hope After Relapse         by Jessica M., Oregon

     I never thought it would happen to me.  I had been living in a recovery household for over 20 years.  Then one day, my husband said, "I just want to let you know I drank while I was hunting."  My heart sank.  I almost couldn't believe it.  I had plenty of Al-Anon under my belt but never imagined I would need it for something like this.  Thank God I already had a sponsor, was attending meetings, had worked the steps, and had built a support system.

     My husband's relapse sent me into what felt like a different realm.  I had never known that kind of powerlessness before.  I used the tools I had learned, but it was not an easy road.  I couldn't grasp the concept of the First Step for a long time.  I decided to stay with him and try to work a good Al-Anon program, but after two and a half years, my growth in the program gave me the courage to finally stop the merry-go-round ride.  We separated, and that brought on a whole new hell for me.  Once again, I used the tools that I had been practicing and held on for dear life.

     Losing the man I loved was devastating.  Some days I didn't want to go on, yet Al-Anon principles told me there was hope: Hold On, Pain Ends.  I wasn't alone.  Others had been where I was and felt what I felt.  There was a Higher Power who would do for me what I couldn't do for myself.  I had to be willing to do the work, and if I worked the program and took good care of myself, I believed I would heal and grow and maybe even find happiness.

     It's been two years since my divorce, and I have changed and grown a lot.  I still have painful, hard days, but I'm still working the program, and today, I have more hope for myself and my future.