I did not know what Al-Anon would or could do for me. I could no longer recognize what I needed, as the effects of a loved one’s alcoholism wrecked havoc in our family. What I did realize, finally, was my utter desperation!
Anxiety suffocated me and fear kept me paralyzed, while my obsessive thinking pushed me to the brink of insanity. I vacillated between keeping a tight rein over my erratic emotions to seething rage, only to fall into bouts of weeping. Somehow, my feet could not seem to regain solid ground as I ran out of answers and possible solutions.
For someone used to being in charge, fixing problems, guiding with confidence, or manipulating my way through life, reaching for outside help in any form was definitely a last resort. But alcoholism had brought me to my knees. I had finally become willing to admit that my life was unmanageable. I could no longer delude myself into thinking I could save anyone, let alone myself. In retrospect, I see this as a turning point where I ventured into Step One territory.
In the midst of this total surrender, a slogan that I heard years previously flashed through my mind: “Let Go and Let God,” I repeated it for days in a continuous “mind chatter,” blocking all else. Somehow, these few words eased my fear for moments at a time. In these precious seconds of sanity, I felt a glimmer of hope, which encouraged me to turn in earnest to the God of my childhood. Ever so tentatively laying aside self-will, pride, and cynicism, I asked for help. I could feel the sincerity and the intensity of my plea echoing through every fiber of my body. There was no flash of lightening, no cloudburst or heavenly voice, merely complete stillness and a sense of well-being.
I knew without a doubt that a loving presence surrounded me and that the answers I was searching for would be found. In this moment of spiritual awakening, I came to believe. In what? Well, that mystery is still being explored, but on a deeper level, a shift in direction has occurred.
This single moment of clarity brought me to Step Two. A door had opened in answer to my prayer. I returned to Al-Anon and embraced this lifeline wholeheartedly. I had discarded the program years earlier as being “well-meaning,” but not practical for someone who prided herself on handling matters of a private nature on her own terms— “my way,” in other words.
Today, I am not ashamed to admit defeat at the hands of this powerful disease. By the grace of God, I am exploring the complexities of Step Three on a daily basis. Turning my life and my will over takes constant vigilance on my part, as my self-will often tries to exert itself anew when I let my guard down.
When life seems to flow easily, I tend to drift back to my former complacency, merely existing rather than living on purpose. I’ve tasted some measure of serenity and began to truly appreciate the beauty surrounding me, so much that I now refuse to lose touch with this gift by taking it for granted.
As I work through Step Four, more changes in my attitude are occurring. I see with fresh eyes areas that need improving. I am willing to work at creating a better version of the person I aspire to be. As I learn to love myself unconditionally, I can now more easily accept others for who they are.
I have discovered a loving connection to the God of my understanding. I am indeed a work in progress, well on my way to healing this precious soul, which I believe is a gift worth fighting for!
By Adèle T., Ontario
The Forum, November 2014
© Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters., Inc Virginia Beach, VA
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