One of the things that I've come to realize in Al-Anon is that there are a variety of life stories with regard to the effects of alcohol. Some people have had it very rough while others have not been through financial ruin or physical abuse. One thing that we can all identify with is the emotional upheaval that occurs when living with an alcoholic.
When I first started going to meetings, I thought that I had it so bad. Gradually, I came to realize that it didn't matter how bad my lot was because comparing myself to others wasn't useful. Rather I learned that we all had something to share about the effects of living with alcoholism. The anxiety, fear, and general disruption of life seemed to be the common denominators among all of us.
I've also learned that longevity in the program doesn't really indicate how far along you are in recovery. All of us struggle in one way or another with the effect that alcoholism has had on our lives. It isn't a race to the finish but rather it's a path that we walk every day and will likely do for the rest of our lives. When I start to compare myself to others or think that I'm not doing as well as I'd like, I have to remember that this is a life long journey.
At times, I find that I identify more with what is said at AA meetings than in Al-Anon. I think that the insight of the AA's is more honest and their solutions more useful to me. Some of the Al-Anon members do a lot of hand wringing. I've been there so I know why that's necessary. What I'm wanting to hear though are ways to move past the hand wringing. That's why I like to balance my time between AA and Al-Anon meetings whenever I can. The perspective of the alcoholic is one that I need to hear.