I recall watching television shows such as “Father Knows Best” and “Eight is Enough,” seeing family members showing love and compassion for each other, and treating each other with respect. I thought to myself, “Why is our family so different? Why can’t we get along and be the kind of family portrayed in those television shows?”
I know now that the disease of alcoholism took away any hope of having a loving family life. Because of the drinking, I had so much anger, resentment, and hatred for my family that it was difficult for me to be a loving family member.
When I finally found the Al-Anon program, I learned that alcoholism is a disease that affects every member of the family—not just the alcoholic. I couldn’t accept that at first; it wasn’t fair. I was trying to change my life. I was making all the sacrifices and I felt that all the members of my family should do the same.
The longer I attended Al-Anon and listened to the members share their stories, the more I came to realize that the members of my family were good people who were affected by a disease. Compassion led me to acceptance. Just as I was affected, so were they.
Having come to grips with this fact, Al-Anon offered me a program to change my life for the better. As I tried to work the Twelve Steps and participate in service work, my anger and resentment began to dissipate. I started to feel better about myself and my family. For the first time in my life, I could truly love them, as I never had before. This was a good feeling, and I owe it all to Al-Anon.
I have been a member of Al-Anon for a long time now. None of my family members have ever found the program, but today I still love them more than ever. Now when I experience frustration and anxiety in my life, I think about where I was before coming to Al-Anon. The Al‑Anon program has given me a second chance at living.
When I was in the grips of the alcoholic behavior, I was bitter and hateful to everyone around me. I knew no other way to live. Even now, during those times when I temporarily lose sight of it and wallow in my frustration and anger, I know there is a program of hope that is mine for the taking—all I have to do is work it. The Al-Anon program shows me a better way to live my life.
By Gregory S., Minnesota
The Forum, October 2013