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Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2007

I Ceased To Be Me
When I first came into the Al-Anon program, I was confronted by Al-Anon's Twelve Steps. I wondered if the members really knew what the Steps were saying. Step One says, "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol -- that our lives had become unmanageable." I knew the drinker was powerless over alcohol because I had seen my wife in alcoholic stupors -- and she was quite powerless. So, I felt Step One was obviously for my wife and her fellow alcoholics.
Certainly Al-Anon never intended the First Step for those of us who were not alcoholics. After all, we resisted the temptation to imbibe excessively. Many of us never touched the stuff. We saw firsthand the problems it caused and we weren't about to get into that kind of situation.
So I wondered, "Why does this Step suggest we are powerless over alcohol?" An Al-Anon member suggested that were I to talk to a bottle of alcohol and tell it to do something, I would be unsuccessful. I could talk all I want with no results. And, were I to put the contents of that same bottle into an alcoholic and tell the alcoholic to do something, the result would be the same.
Not only was I powerless over alcohol, but I was also powerless over people, places, and things. In fact, the only person I could control was myself. In my final analysis I was only responsible for myself and could never be held accountable for anyone else. That took a tremendous burden from my shoulders. I felt a hundred pounds lighter, which enabled me to resume my life.
Resuming my life involved doing what Al-Anon members refer to as "working the progrem." Realizing I was no longer responsible for my wife's sobriety, I could discover just who and what I was. Now that took some digging, which is why we have the Steps, particularly the Fourth, "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." Step Four was like peeling back the layers of an onion. With each new layer, I'm discovering another facet of myself.
During the drinking years I had given up some of the things that were once a source of enjoyment. I loved to read, but it bothered the alcoholic when I became engrossed in a book, so I gave up reading. I loved listening to classical music, which also bothered the alcoholic -- so I stopped that. In short, I ceased to be me. My life was so wound up in the daily concerns of my wife that as an entity, I no longer existed.
Being involved in my Al-Anon home group meant I helped set up the meeting, became the Group Representative, attended meetings, and most of all, shared my experience, strength, and hope with newcomers. I made a vow to myself that whenever possible I would be faithful in attending my home group. Remembering how I felt at my first meeting, I never want anyone to come to our Al-Anon meeting room and find it empty. That newcomer could be as confused and hopeless as I was more than 30 years ago. As God grants me the health, I want to be available when needed.
By Don S. - Maryland
Published January, 2007 in Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a family disease. Those of us who live with, or have have lived with, this disease as children or adults sometimes have problems which the Al-Anon program can help us to resolve. If you have answered yes to some of all of the above questions, Al-Anon may be of help to you. You can contact Al-Anon by checking your local telephone directory, or from the Resources page. Phone numbers and Contact Information for the Austin Area are listed on the Contact Page of this website.
These articles were reproduced with permission from 'The Forum', the monthly inspirational newsletter of Al-Anon. Al-Anon World Headquarters, Inc. is located in Virginia Beach, VA. See www.Al-Anon.org for more information.