Monthly Forum Sharings Archived


By Diana M., Ontario

The Forum, December 2022

Prioritizing Serenity

“I didn’t know how to just accept that those were her choices.”

When I first came into the program, my priorities were informed by the family disease of alcoholism and the recent death of my father. My immediate priority after losing my dad to alcohol abuse was to save my mom, also an alcoholic, from the same fate. My priority then, above all else—above sleep, sanity, my family, my health—was to stop my mother from drinking and, by extension, dying.

I came into the program because, no matter how much I fought, cried, and begged, my mom refused to stop drinking. She told me she couldn’t and wouldn’t, and suggested I get over it. I didn’t know how to get over it. I didn’t know how to just accept that those were her choices. So I found an Al Anon meeting and became willing to learn.

It’s been six years since I started going to meetings, and my recovery has been at times swift, at times stalled, but slowly, with time, patience, and the wisdom of the program and my fellow Al Anon members, I started to understand that my mother’s choices were not something I had the ability to change.

I began to see that the real change I needed was inside of me—a spiritual change. I needed to “Let Go and Let God” and to re-prioritize, putting my serenity above all things. What I quickly realized was that my serenity was a great barometer of whether I was trying to force solutions, control others, or exert my will. If I lost my serenity at any time, it was likely because I had once again “fallen off the wagon” and resorted to my old way of thinking—that I was responsible for the actions of others and that I could change them if only I tried hard enough.

Today, my serenity comes first. What gives me serenity is my connection with my Higher Power, my love for my family, and working my program in all things. And the fact that I have serenity at all, despite my mother’s continued drinking and the consequences of her drinking that I must deal with every day, is the true miracle of my life. And it is all thanks to Al Anon.

By Peter B.

The Forum, December 2022

Learning to “Live and Let Live”

“It wasn’t long before I saw some progress in myself.”

Before I attended my first meeting, I was much too focused on my alcoholic wife’s behavior and not nearly focused enough on my own. In fact, I was heavily focused on anyone’s behavior besides my own. I tried to make others live the way I wanted them to, thinking I could change them.

Despite my repeated attempts to curb my wife’s behavior through subtle manipulation, my words always fell short, and, if anything, the behavior got worse—both hers and mine. So, when I first heard the slogan “Live and Let Live,” I knew it was something I had to learn right away.

It wasn’t long before I saw some progress in myself. I still had a lot to work on, there was no doubt about that, but the constant watching and repeated attempts to control decreased. I learned that I could not control anyone else, and after a handful of meetings, even the thought of trying sounded completely ridiculous. It had never worked before, so what would make me think it would now?

I’m constantly working to get better in this area—keeping track of my own life and letting other people deal with theirs. I strive to make significant and constant progress, knowing that it will be a lifelong process. But I know if all else fails, this slogan has real-life meaning to me. It will constantly be there as a reminder that I have to take care of myself first and let everyone else do the same… if they want to. And if they don’t, that’s their choice too.

By Anonymous

The Forum, December 2022

Reaching Out to My Daughter with Kindness

When life throws me another curveball, like my alcoholic daughter having a baby, I start obsessing about how to fix her before the baby is born. To break out of this pattern of thinking, I go to Al Anon meetings, read program literature, talk to my Sponsor, and pray. Finally, I begin practicing detachment with love by giving my daughter a baby shower. Only with a Higher Power and the Al Anon program can I reach out to her with kindness. Her alcoholism has taken her away from the family for many years.

My grandchild has now been born and my daughter has been drinking. I pray for her and her child daily. I am powerless over my daughter’s alcoholism and what kind of a parent she is. Compassion fills my heart as I see once again how powerless I am. My daughter has many assets, and I try to focus on those. Having a grandchild is both a joy and an opportunity to practice acceptance.


By Deirdre B

The Forum, November 2022

Do you love me today?

“I learned to start taking care of myself and loving myself.”

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?”

By Patricia B

The Forum, November 2022

Do I belong in Al-Anon?

“I didn’t need to look outside myself for justification.”

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. I knew 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.

By Mary S

The Forum, November 2022

I tried everything

“I felt serenity and peace for the first time.”

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, pleeeeease,” 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.”


By Michael M., Ohio

The Forum, October 2022

With the Help of Fellow Al-Anon Members

“I was at the point of utter exhaustion.”

I first came to Al-Anon looking for a way to “cure” my alcoholic wife, to convince those who enabled her of the seriousness of my wife’s disease, and to be reassured that I was not crazy. To my (as I later realized, pleasant) surprise, I was told that none of those things were what the program was about. The people at the meeting gently informed me that the program focused on me, not on what others did or thought. At first, this felt uncomfortable—how could I not focus on the actions of those close to me? But focusing on myself eventually grew into an unbelievable relief!

Much like my preliminary thoughts on what to expect from Al-Anon were skewed, I also originally thought just coming into the rooms of Al-Anon meant I had completed my First Step: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” After all, I never knew a greater powerlessness than having my son be born into an alcoholic home, nor a greater unmanageability than feeling the constant need to protect my son from the alcoholic and even the alcoholic from herself. I was at the point of utter exhaustion.

After some initial struggles, this distorted view of Step One was gently nudged in the correct direction by my fellow Al-Anon members. While I had realized I was powerless and that my life was unmanageable, I was still falling into old habits of trying to assert my will to control and manipulate situations.

With the help of the program and my fellow All-Anon members, I learned to avoid getting into unhealthy situations by biting my tongue, not trying to rationalize the irrational, and not taking the alcoholic’s behavior personally. The loving help I received early on in my program, through both struggles and successes, helped lay the foundation for continued recovery in my life.

Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.

By Rita, Ontario

The Forum, October 2022

From One Generation to the Next

Before going to Alateen, I often felt alone and lonely. I did not want anyone outside of my dysfunctional house to know what I was living with. I was always trying to hide or wanting to disappear into the shadows, hoping my terrible secret would never be exposed.

One day, my mom shared with me that my dad had a disease (alcoholism) and that it affected the whole family. At the time, I did not know why I was always sad and afraid and feeling cut off from the world. My mom promised me that if I went to Alateen, I would start to feel much better. At my first meeting, we read from a red book, Alateen—a day at a time (B-10). As each week passed and we continued to read from it, I was always amazed at how easily I could relate to the stories and feelings expressed.

As months went by, I realized my mom’s promise was coming true. I no longer felt alone, and my sadness started to melt away as quickly as it would surface. With the tools presented in the little red book, I was starting to feel better a day at a time. After almost a year in Alateen, my mom bought me my own Alateen—a day at a time book as a Christmas gift. Inscribed was, “Read this for Health and Happiness. Love, Mom.”

Today, I still have my Alateen book, except now it sits in my son’s room, where he knows he can reach for it anytime if he is struggling with his feelings or starts to feel alone. With this book, we have been able to pass down from one generation to the next how to live in recovery and not live in the disease. I am eternally grateful.

Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.

By Ann C.

The Forum, October 2022

The last alcoholic

“All my life, she had been the goalpost I had either run to or from.” 

When my mother, whom I called “the last alcoholic” in my life, died at 90, I felt surprisingly lost. All my life, she had been the goalpost I had either run to or from. In her last years, I drew on the strength and wisdom of many years in Al‑Anon. I needed it—caring for her at the end of her life put me back into the caretaker role of my youth. I yelled, “Why me?” at my Higher Power and lost patience as her needs, whether for canned nutrition drinks or doctor visits, mounted.

After she was gone, I felt disoriented. At a meeting, I heard someone say, “Sometimes I hug the literature to myself,” and decided that’s what I would do. What better way to affirm my strange journey in an alcoholic family? I reread How Al-Anon Works (B-32), then From Survival to Recovery (B-21). Both comforted me by saying, in effect, “We know where you’ve been.”

I also discovered Al‑Anon phone meetings and listened three to four times daily over several months. I felt amazingly better after each call. Finally, I guided a new person I’m sponsoring through the Steps, which helped me focus on something besides my own uncomfortable feelings. I could see the Steps work their magic, and that warmed my heart.

Still, it seems odd that there are no longer any active alcoholics in my life. If my alcoholic mother could see my growth in Al‑Anon, I am sure she would be proud. My grief has shifted to a new respect for what both my alcoholic parents achieved in their lifetimes despite their disease. Today, I am getting a second chance at life, and Al‑Anon is there to ensure I receive all its adventure, fullness, and joy. Al‑Anon allows me to see the good in my life—and prepare for even more as I grow.

Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.