God, grant me the serenityThe serenity prayer
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
What is Al-Anon? I knew it was a program that was opposite Alcoholics Anonymous, but that was all. When the counselor I was seeing suggested that I might want to try it, I was offended and left his office very frustrated. He also suggested a codependency meeting, which I did try first. It did not seem to fit me. I next found an Al-Anon meeting and attended. It was a noon meeting. A kind woman began guiding the meeting. A person already seated handed me a book to read from and then each person applied the passage read to his/her life. I liked what I heard. They were talking about all sorts of life’s problems. This meeting was calming to me.
When it came to my turn, they asked me to first tell them about why I was there. I explained my bad marriage brought me and my life jut was not working. Next, I was asked, “Do you have an alcoholic in your life?” I said, “Possibly, but I am not certain.” One woman responded, “You have to have an alcoholic in your life to attend this meeting.” I then said, “Are any of you, alcoholics?” Another said, “Why do you want to know that?” I said, “Because if there is an alcoholic in here and if I have to be involved with one to be able to be here again, then I am going to become involved with you very quickly. I will be sitting in this chair next week.
No one seemed to want to get involved with me as everyone in the meeting said nothing, so I went the following week, and all was good. Each session brought something I needed to hear for my own life. When a person replaces the word alcoholic or alcoholism with the problem they are having in this life, big messages that help sometimes come.” I discovered answers within about how to handle a personal challenge. When one listens carefully, the words that come from another person about a problem they had brings your answer to you. I felt like this next statement took place every meeting; God had a surprising understanding ready for me. I continued to go.
Acquiring a sponsor and working the steps brought brand new perspectives to my life. I felt like I gained new eyesight and finally began healing through this program. It was exactly what I needed. And that statement I heard at the beginning from a speaker about my children would begin having their lives improve also in about six months as true! Those meetings rebuilt the joy within. No one tells anyone else what to believe. Yes, they do talk about a higher power. Every person that I have ever suggested Al-Anon to and has gone finds relief and new beginnings in his/her own life.
I cannot adequately share the gifts this program brought to my life. I feel like if everyone in the United States and beyond took the opportunity to work the twelve steps with a sponsor, we would have more honesty, respect, and compassion when interacting with others. If this happened, the United States might be living in a world of Utopia. Actions I took while working the steps helped me look within “me” and gain more wisdom about my life. Those meetings and “experience of the steps” brought understanding about how I responded to others and how I kept drawing chaos to me rather than a more balanced and whole person for a partner in both my personal life and, at times, in my work life. As I moved through the steps, I discovered where the hurts within began that left broken areas in me that needed healing. Al-Anon brought suggestions about how those holes within me might heal. I stayed “in the present” every moment of the meetings and was able to see how Spirit worked as I moved through the steps and as others talked about what happened to them as they worked the steps.
Each of the twelve steps brought a new action for me to take before moving forward to the next level. My sponsor guided me through every step. I spent about a month, sometimes a little more, on Step One through Twelve. Sally, my sponsor that I chose, was excellent.
LESSON: If it is difficult to move through a self-induced boundary, keep going. Some believe that when difficulties arise, we are not supposed to do something. It might be that when something happens, Spirit is looking to see how committed we are to a goal we set for ourselves. This happens when we make a commitment. If one keeps moving through the blocks determined to go forward towards the commitment, it feels like “all of a sudden the Force moves in with you” to help your life.
LESSON: When sitting in a 12-step meeting, do not judge others. Soon one learns they are sitting in meetings with a lawyer, a counselor, a nurse, a teacher, a homeless person, a professor, a stay-at-home mother, and others. All that return to each meeting gain wisdom and acquire a positive change in life that is amazing to watch!
GIFTS: Serenity, relief, and joy came to me. I lost my “need to control others.” So many times if my life was out of control, I would find myself focusing on what one of my children needed to be doing in theirs or what a friend needed to do. I quit giving advice in all instances unless I was asked for my advice. I always considered myself to be someone that had good relationships, but “all” relationships improved. I forgave myself for some things in my past, and I forgave others. Forgiveness became easy. I could go on and on. I noted that I began drawing to me fun, energy-free, healthier, supportive friendships.