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Al-Anon Forum Magazine Featured Article

Ph.D. for Life
When I was living with active alcoholism I didn't know anything like Al-Anon existed. I was in the midst of divorcing the problem when I started dating a man whose information would save my life. On our fifth date, he told me he was a sober alcoholic in recovery. He gently suggested that I try Al-Anon. I imagine he was thinking, "Girl, do you need Al-Anon!" Anyway, he took me to my first meeting. He didn't know I was contemplating suicide at the time. I'm grateful that he left me with those Al-Anon ladies. The experience saved my life.
My first sponsor was self-appointed and wouldn't leave me alone. She was a group representative (GR) who became the district representative (DR). She drove all over town doing Twelve Step calls and putting up posters. She went to state assemblies, area workshops, conferences - and she dragged me along. For a while I thought, "Get in the car" was the First Step. She taught me the importance of public information. People are attracted to Al-Anon when they want it, but they have to know it is an option before they can choose to come.
I've had the opportunity to relocate several times while I've been a member of this program. I've experienced what was new or different in each area and what was the same in Al-Anon everywhere. My sponsor and I formed a two-woman Al-Anon information service in southern Germany where there were very few English-speaking meetings. I often sat alone at the meeting in my little town. As a result, I actually read the books -something I might not have done if I had lived in a more populated area where I could depend on a large group for information and support.
I became an active part of two districts when I came back from Europe. I took turns at group jobs and held GR, alternate DR, DR and area chairperson positions. In those years I learned to host "Meetings-on-Wheels" and the importance of Al-Anon's support for Alateen groups. I learned the truth about the Ninth Tradition, which says we are not to be organized. I had the opportunity to practice many Al-Anon principles in my interactions with other members-running meetings, networking, communicating with the rest of the team, delegating job tasks and letting go.
My home group is my home, so I've wanted to help keep it in order. Even after relocating to a different part of the country, I've been a GR again. I've taken turns as group secretary or treasurer, too, at various times. My experience suggests that my recovery heavily depends on my willingness to serve Al-Anon.
The strength I've received is immeasurable. I've learned to see God in everyone. I cannot afford to let personalities keep me from hearing a message just because I don't like the messenger. I've learned the importance of listening - that it is more valuable for my spirit to understand than it is to be understood. I've learned the place of Conference Approved Literature and why it's a good idea for me to promote it. I've learned the value of the Fourth Concept - that the key to harmony is participation. At all levels, I believe all of our ideas belong in discussions about Al-Anon's future.
Most importantly, I've learned to live the idea that gratitude means action. This program saved my life. I want to be sure it continues for all those who still need to walk through the doors. I've been at meetings on major holidays when a newcomer entered. I'm glad I was there.
Before I came to Al-Anon, I often felt pressured into saying yes and serving. My hope is there are no "have to's" in this program. I know the only requirement for most positions in Al-Anon service is the willingness to try. Our declaration statement, "Let It Begin With Me," has a great pull on my spirit. Still, sometimes it's good for me to sit on my hands. It's important that I allow others to have opportunities, too. It's important that I encourage newcomers to grow.
Mitsi J. - Nevada
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.