By Sandra F., Virginia
Reprinted with permission
Many years ago my husband miraculously found sobriety. Instead of joy, I was filled with fear that it wouldn't last. I asked God to please keep him sober because I could no longer take the pain and disappointment of active alcoholism. Despite my fear, it turned out to be a wonderful holiday with the two of us grateful for, and working on, his sobriety.
As time went by, I learned that his sobriety did not spell "happiness." Several years later, I reached my bottom. It was part of a long process of looking at myself and my own part in the disease of alcoholism. It meant facing the demons from my past. Although I thought I "did the Steps," new insights forced me once again to humbly ask my group, my sponsor and the God of my understanding to guide me through another phase of shortcomings.
The holiday season with the approaching New Year has always been a time of reflection for me. While there were many years of joy, there were also some steeped with pain--the pain of facing new insights and the pain that comes before I can accept my powerlessness over those I love. Regardless of my personal state of challenge or peace, I have been able to get beyond the ups and downs that life delivers in order to plan celebrations with my family of origin and with my adopted Al-Anon family.
One highlight of December has been reading the holiday issue of The Forum. There are always messages wishing joy, peace and serenity. Al-Anon's cofounders Lois W. and Anne B. began this tradition of love, service and personal sharing. Their messages appeared in the Al-Anon Family Groups Newsletter that preceded The Forum. Lois continued with it for as long as she could.
Lois' life of love and service was the theme for the memorial observance in New York following her death in 1988. The minister who officiated said Lois' life exemplified the "highest form of prayer." He spoke of three levels of prayer: give me; help me; and use me. The minister said God had used Lois as an instrument to help families and friends of alcoholics. This legacy of service has remained a model for those of us who attempt to follow in her footsteps.
As I look back over the years, I see how I too came into the program and prayed for my Higher Power to give me peace; then I asked my sponsor to help me live the Steps. Ultimately, I understood the feeling of serenity when I felt I was used as an instrument to serve others.
As 1998 approaches, I am not only grateful for our cofounders but also for the Al-Anon and Alateen members who are following in their footsteps. These are the members who have learned that the only way to "keep the program" is to "give it away." They remind me of a song of healing that says,"May the source of strength that blessed the ones before us, help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing..." When we find the courage to reach beyond ourselves to heal the lives of others, whether or not we have "happy holidays," we can all experience the peace that comes from living a life of purpose.
I wish each of you happy holidays. May you experience the fulfillment and joy that comes from living blessed holy days of love and service.