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 November 2022 issue, with permission of  The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA

I "Do" Belong in Al-Anon      by Patricia B

     All my life, I've struggled to feel that I belong.   As the only girl, I felt distinctly different from my three brothers.  As a "feeler" in a family of "thinkers", I felt alienated.  Coming out as a lesbian in my twenties did nothing to mitigate my feelings of being "other."

     So, it's no surprise that it literally took me years of attending meetings to feel like I truly belonged in Al-Anon.  And it had nothing to do with being a lesbian.  I felt like I didn't belong in Al-Anon because I hadn't grown up with alcoholism, I'd never been romantically involved with an alcoholic, and there was no alcoholism in my family.

     Tradition Three says, "The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend."  I had friends who were recovering alcoholics, so I used them to "justify" my attendance at meetings.  No one ever challenged my right to be at a meeting, yet I felt like a fraud.

     Still I kept coming back.  I knew that Al-Anon was helping me.  I knew it gave me tools to deal with my coworker whose erratic behavior reflected that of her alcoholic mother.  I came to see that my two long-term partners, both adult daughters of alcoholics, had been affected by the alcoholic system they'd grown up in.  And that, in turn, I was, too.

     And then, when I'd been in the program about 15 years, my adult son came to me for help with his drinking problem.  He told me he was an alcoholic.  I hadn't known anything about the extent of his drinking nor the devastation it was causing in his life.  But he knew that I knew something about alcoholism.  And he knew he was safe coming to me for help.  I was immensely grateful to Al-Anon for that.

     So, then I did have a "legitimate" reason to be in Al-Anon.  However, I no longer needed that legitimization.  Somewhere along the way, I'd come to believe that I belonged in Al-Anon.  I'd realized I didn't need to look outside myself for justification.   Iknew that the

Al-Anon program gave me steps and tools to stay sane in relationships with the potential for insanity.  I had learned that I truly belonged.

I Tried Everything     by Mary S.

     As I reflect on my early days of recovery, I realize how thankful I am for Al-Anon.  I did what many other members did with their alcoholics - emptied out liquor bottles, yelled, screamed, cried, and begged him to stop drinking.  I spent many sleepless nights wondering who was going to find out about my problems or worried he was going to kill someone while driving drunk.  I was afraid to

go shopping or travel with friends for fear something would happen while I was gone.  I tried daily to reason with him, but to no avail.  The lies he told were hurtful, and yet he had a way of convincing me he could or would stop: "Just one more chance pleeeease," he would beg.

     One day, after several months in Al-Anon, I was sitting on my porch and realized I could hear the birds singing and children laughing.  

I felt serenity and peace for the first time in my life.  I finally realized there was nothing I could do to make him stop drinking.  I am blessed to have Al-Anon in my life, and I will "Keep Coming Back".

Do You Love Me Today?     by Deirdre B. New York

     Growing up in an alcoholic, home, I lived amidst instability and insecurity daily.  Unlike children who grew up being told they were loved "to the moon and back," or "this much" by someone with arms spread wide, I would ask my mother, "Do you love me today?"

only to be answered with a shrug of her shoulders and, "Eh, same as usual" She died when I was 15, and I never got a different answer.

     When my son's drinking grew out of control, I retaliated with all the fury that had gone unexpressed in my childhood.  I lectured, punished, and bargained with God.  I searched my son's room, snooped in his drawers, closet and car; rifled his pockets; tested him; and tried to smell his breath when he came close.  I cajoled, belittled, and threatened.  He lied, stole, and retreated to his room.  He was angry and shut me out completely.  It seemed I'd lost him.  Only when I realized I was losing myself did things begin to change.

     In Al-Anon, I learned to start taking care of myself and loving myself.  Progress was slow at first because I thought I was unlovable.  I felt like a failed daughter and mother.  But as I became more aware of how my behaviors transferred my pain to my son, I began to change, to pull back and let him have the dignity and self-determination he is entitled to.

     Recently, my son told me he'd tried heroin several months ago.  He waited for my response.  I waited for my Higher Power. 

Instead of being angry or upset or hurt, I looked into his eyes and saw my little boy, my son.  I heard myself say, "Thank you for sharing that.  Thank you for trusting me.  I love you, I always have, and I always will."

     Before Al-Anon, I never would have been able to hear that what he was really saying was, "Do you love me today?"