Earlier this week, I went to my first AL-Anon meeting in more than a decade – perhaps more than 15 years. However, from time to time in that absence from any organized meetings, I’ve enjoyed reading some of the day-to-day support materials and have continued to get something out of them. With that in mind – and some of the happenings of the last few weeks – I decided that it was time to go again both for myself and in support of a friend that I thought could benefit from being there.
Though the whole premise of the group is ANONYMOUS support, and I cannot share anyone’s story but my own, what I can say is that I felt immediately at home, comforted and welcomed. Everyone there is going through some level of the same issues – or has – and there is a silent understanding that is affirming in so many ways.
In addition to the friend that went with me, I saw a few other familiar faces. I don’t know their exact stories and it wouldn’t matter if I did. But it was great to know that they loved and accepted my on a whole new level. I hope that my friend will quickly feel that same acceptance and love and allow their stories to help heal hers.
One of the reasons I like Al-Anon and felt so much more compelled to go there rather than AA is that I feel like it addresses the history, problems and relationships that have probably led to my own relationship/problems with alcohol. To me, going there is like dealing with the source of the problem while going to AA seems like dealing with the symptom. Of course I may have that all wrong, but I don’t think so. Still, I will plan to go to AA at some point and to see if I need to heal my “addiction” from that side as well.
One of the statements we were given to consider tonight was “We can gain peace of mind by putting aside what we could or should have done by accepting who we are right now.” I recognize that many times in my life I have used alcohol as a way to forget bad choices, or perhaps forget the bad outcomes that came from my bad choices. Without drinking I am forced to look at those decisions and outcomes more directly, and given the chance to see myself clearly through sober eyes.
That can be difficult, let me assure you.
Something else I’ve thought a lot about over the last few days is a prayer I made a few months ago. Not sure if this was before, during or after my initial sobriety adventure, but it was at some point since I started it. The prayer was simple and basically I asked to be able to let go of anything that was holding me back from being successful in the way I want to be. In my mind I was thinking that this could mean leaving some of my personal relationships behind, but now I am starting to think that it was actually my relationship with drinking that was holding me back.
Unfortunately, as I let go more and more of drinking and the life that went with it, I am feeling a lot of other things slipping away, the biggest thing actually being relationships with people I have known and thought of as friends for 20 plus years.
I’ve always been kind of an outlier or outsider with most of my peers, perhaps not my best friends, but with the other larger social groups. I’ve been this way as far back as I can remember really – the poor kid at the private school; the figure skater among the soccer players and cheerleaders; the high school drop-out among the college girls and frat boys; the entrepreneur around all the 9 to 5ers. Really in so many ways I’ve never fit in with the status quo but I could surpass a lot of these differences – at least when I got older – by partying with the people I didn’t quite fit in with in the other ways. That common denominator has cemented a lot of relationships and actually made up a lot of our commonality and memories. Now that I’ve stopped drinking the “cement,” some of those relationships don’t seem to be sticking to my life very well.
It will be interesting to see the outcome at the end of this year – and looking back after a bit more time has passed – to see who is still sticking around.
This made me laugh out loud and I just couldn’t resist sharing it:-)