You don’t have to get on an airplane or traverse an ocean to make discoveries. About twenty-five years ago, I began visiting church basements and other community rooms where, once or twice each week, men and women gathered to talk about what life is like living with addiction. A counselor friend recommended that every pastor, teacher, social worker and nurse should attend Al-Anon meetings, so I began going.
I became a fan of Twelve Step groups, the most famous of which is Alcoholics Anonymous. Other “self-help” groups related to or similar to AA include Overeaters Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Alateen and Al-Anon.
Al-Anon is designed for family members and friends of those who have addiction and/or dependency problems.
“Hi. My name is … .”
“Hi … .”
My life was changed by listening to the wisdom of people who dealt daily with problems they faced as family or friend to someone with an addiction. Here are some lessons learned from Al Anon meetings:
• Don’t overreact. Don’t underreact. React Appropriately.
• Fake it till you make it.
• First things first.
• How important is it?
• I can’t start the next chapter of life if I keep re-reading the last one.
• I don’t have to go to every fight I’m invited to.
• I’m not as good as I once thought I was, and I’m not as bad as I sometimes think I am.
• It’s like getting rid of an alley cat. You don’t have to kick it. Just don’t feed it.
• Let go and let God.
• Mind your own business.
• Nothing changes if nothing changes.
• One day at a time.
• Tend to your own affairs.
• The only thing that’s the end of the world is the end of the world.
• We are powerless over alcohol… and powerless over the people in our lives who are addicted to alcohol or to anything else…
When I attend church, I know there is some sort of pain on every pew. When I attend Al-Anon meetings, I know there is pain in every chair.
It is important to say I do not represent AA or Al-Anon or any other Twelve-Step group. This blog represents my desire to share something important in my life with friends. Anonymity of participants is vital. It’s in the name! At the same time, the twelfth step encourages us to “carry these steps” beyond ourselves. My motivation came when a friend with whom I was talking said she had never heard of Al-Anon. This blog is my effort to say how important this program has been to me.
Meetings begin and end with the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.