The “Just for Today” bookmark (M-12) was the first thing I read in Al-Anon. “Just for today, I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax.” I adopted the quiet time early on and rarely miss a day. During this quiet time, I reflect, think, jot down notes, and sometimes even doze.
Recently during a quiet time, I asked myself: “Where are you in Al-Anon?” It’s been approximately six months since I came into the program, so I owed myself a status report.
I had no idea what to expect at that very first meeting. After the bell rang, I thought that I was back in class. Then it was my turn. And I have no idea what I said, except for my name. I did notice from the expressions around the table that there was an acceptance of this total stranger into the fold. From this point on, I knew I belonged and I was not alone. That was my personal first step.
Many things seemed strange at first. The focus was on me, not the alcoholic? I did not have the problem, yet I’m supposed to change? Why do I have to apply the Twelve-Step program? I’m not the alcoholic. Why do I detach? Why must I stop trying to fix things? Why do I have to keep coming back? Why do I need to recover?
After several meetings, the answers became apparent. I must let go and take control of my own life, otherwise the insanity will never stop.
I started to work the Steps and read the literature, and realized that willingness and commitment are necessary in order for the program to benefit me. Al‑Anon has been the key that has opened my past and provided answers to character flaws and behaviors.
The root cause of my problems was an alcoholic father. That environment provided fear, anxiety, and lack of self-confidence in my development that carried on into my adult life. I suppressed the many unpleasant memories I had of growing up, and put them in my mind’s lockbox. I’ve discovered that opening the box and allowing the old memories to resurface has allowed healing and enabled me to move forward with my recovery.
The progress and growth are slow but I’m growing stronger day by day. Sanity, as well as peace, is being restored. The changes that have taken place in my life have allowed me to rediscover myself. Looking in that mirror isn’t so bad after all.
I’ve learned to accept the alcoholic (recovering at this time) in my life the Al-Anon way—and that would be the only way. I recognize the disease and the challenges it represents for the afflicted and the family, as well. I realize how far-reaching the effects of the alcoholic’s drinking and behavior are. It’s “One Day at a Time” for us all—a two-way street.
So where am I in Al-Anon? I’m back in class, from that very first meeting, to today, and into tomorrow. I’m still learning and growing “One Day at a Time.”
Yesterday is who I was. Today is who I am. And tomorrow is who I can be.
By Bill L., Illinois
The Forum, November 2014
© Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters., Inc Virginia Beach, VA
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