Monday, November 5, 2007

My first Al-Anon meeting

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
T.S. Eliot

I remember my first Al-Anon meeting and how desperate I felt on that night. I had decided through the suggestion of a friend that I needed to go to Al-Anon because I felt empty and lost. My marriage was a mess and I was also a mess. The wrong location was posted on the web site so I drove to a housing project, found the door locked, and started to leave. Then, a woman came out and asked me if she could help me. I said that I was looking for the Al-Anon meeting. She said that AA met at the housing project and that Al-Anon met up the road at the Community Center.

It would have been easy for me to just go back home at that point. I'd given it a try but with the wrong address, I could come up with an excuse not to be there. Something told me that I just couldn't do that. So I got in my car and drove to the address given, hoping to find the meeting.

It's kind of funny because my SO had a similar thing happen for the first AA meeting. She drove to where she thought the meeting would be but there were no cars, no lights. She drove to another location and the same thing--no cars, no lights. She came home angry and despondent. The next night, she found a meeting near where we live and that has become her home group. I guess the HP was guiding her towards sobriety and me towards recovery.

I guess that somehow I realized that I hadn't come to make anyone stop drinking and that I was coming because I wanted to feel better, to feel something. Some people come to Al-Anon looking for a solution for the alcoholic--"What can I do to make him/her stop drinking?" That’s the kind of answer that people are looking for, but instead Al-Anon shows us how to be happy regardless of whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.

So I went there and when the "leader" asked me what brought me to Al-Anon, I shared in a halting voice how low I felt and what a mess my life was. No one said a word, they just let me talk. They said that they were glad that I was at the meeting. And that if I kept coming back, I would feel better.

I didn't get any answers that night but I learned that the answers are really hidden in the experiences of the people at the meetings. After months of meetings and hearing the experience, strength and hope of the participants, I began to formulate some answers by me for me. I also learned that I didn't need to make immediate and life changing decisions all at once. By going to more meetings, I found that the decisions just came and sometimes presented themselves before I really knew the questions.

When I think about what a difference the program has made in my life, I sometimes want to "promote" the program. But, just like AA, it's a program of attraction not promotion. A person isn't going to go to a meeting until ready. I can make information available, but then have to let it go at that.

I don't think of Al-Anon as something that I can "graduate" from. I go because when I go to meetings, I feel better, and I will keep going because the program provides steps for a great way to live. For me, the bottom line is that being in recovery doesn't keep me from having problems or feeling pain, but the program gives me tools to deal with those problems.


  1. I remember my first AA meeting, I was scared to death, I sat at the back of the row of seats. I didn't share for a long time. They told me to keep coming back, & things would get better. They got better, then worse, then better, & they sure got different. It's been difficult, but I am so much better today, & I have more awareness. It's two steps forward, a step back, then forward, I go up & down, but it is all so worth it. It keeps getting better, if I let my HP take over. Thanks for sharing.

  2. good for you. go and do what works for you!

  3. The Al-Anons that I have close realationships with today, are the ones who came into the 12 step program with the same six words that I said "Can someone here please help me?"
    Good post today Syd darlin'.

  4. I don't think anyone graduates from life. It's a learning process. And Al-Anon and AA and the like give us tools to get through it with more grace, especially if we have been damaged in some way. I'm really grateful for what I have received from my experiences in AA. Just knowing there is a safe haven makes all the difference to someone like me.

  5. I remember my first meeting like it was yesterday. Glad God gets us there when we get there

  6. Thanks for sharing that. Like your SO, I got lost going to my first meeting and missed it. Then had to wait around for a few hours for another one. I am glad I did.

  7. I wish we had Al-Anon meetings in my area. Unfortunately we don't..sounds like I'm missing out on a lot...but through you Syd..I'm learning. Sometimes just reading and listening is more educational than slowly and surely I'm getting an education here.
    Thanks for the lesssons.


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