I started attending Al-Anon about 2 1/2 years after my boyfriend of 5 1/2 years broke up with me.
My father had suggested I attend Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) since I was still struggling so long after the break-up. The CoDA meeting in town had closed recently, but I was told about an Al-Anon Family Group that met on Monday nights. Since my dad was a recovering Alcoholic, I fit the main criterion–to be a family member or friend of an Alcoholic.
Since my current struggle was not with the Alcoholic in my life, I wasn’t sure whether attending Al-Anon was going to help me or not.
Fourteen years later, I can tell you it has changed my life . . . slowly and for the better.
When I started Al-Anon, I struggled with shame, I was depressed and everything else I had tried up to that point –which included giving it time, going to therapy and talking with friends–didn’t help me feel much better. I knew something with me was “off.”
I went to my first meeting on a Monday evening in February at a church in town. Two women, and the man I talked with on the phone to get the meeting information were there.
They didn’t expect me to talk–they didn’t want to pressure me–but I was ready to talk. I shared a little bit about growing up with my Alcoholic father and I honestly don’t remember what else. I’m not even sure if I mentioned my ex.
I had promised myself that I’d try this one meeting and that was it. I didn’t have to purchase any books, I didn’t have to commit to attending permanently, I just had to go to this one meeting.
When the members kept telling me to “keep coming back,” I told them I’d think about it, while secretly thinking, “why do they want me to come back? I guess they need a ‘normal’ person in the group.” Years later, I know two things 1. That I was not “normal”; rather I was sick and 2. that they simply wanted to help.
I did keep coming back, just one week at a time. It took me a good 6 months or more to purchase the book the group was using, and over a year to consider asking someone to be my sponsor. Committing slowly was just my speed.
But that first night, something told me I was “home.” I was where I needed to be, and though that first meeting was excruciatingly uncomfortable, I am lucky to have been at the beginning of my recovery journey.
This is the first of many posts I plan to write about my participation in Al-Anon. I want to share all I can to support others who are affected by someone else’s addiction. Do you have any questions for me? Do you or anyone you know have an addicted friend or family member?
Peace out (and in)!