by Tony A.
I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and also a member of the Al-Anon Family Groups and my name is Tony. I am in my 15th year of membership in Alcoholics Anonymous and found myself in the care of the Al-Anon Family Group meetings in the last couple of years. What a difference this has made in my recovery and my life! This is what we call in the 12 step rooms being a “double winner” and the truth of these words is slowly being revealed one day at a time.
I grew up deeply affected by the disease of alcoholism but did not know it at the time. All that I can share with you is that I always felt as though something just was not right. I felt terribly afraid most of the time, I strongly felt that I did not fit in with family or the outside world and had this gnawing sense of being constantly restless, irritable and discontented.
I had a very difficult time forming relationships with people, and my thinking became very obsessive and distorted at a very early age. This is what the Big Book describes as alcoholism but it was completely normal to me. I was well primed for becoming an alcoholic – and that I became, big time.
I finally hit a bottom which produced surrender in August of 1998 and I have been a sober and very active member of Alcoholics Anonymous ever since. I can hardly believe the transformation and miraculous changes that have occurred in my life. I have received these gifts of recovery through much hard work and dedication to the fellowship – by practicing these principles in all of my affairs.
That doesn’t mean life has been perfect or this has been easy and there has been much to work through and continue to do so. I have a fear-based personality that shows itself through behaviours that are in the category of using outside things to fix what is essentially an inside problem. These shortcomings would often show up in my close personal relationships.
At first, I was a bit resistant to the idea of attending and being a member of “another fellowship.” I was a very active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and making room for attendance in another fellowship seemed a bit daunting. But sometimes my higher power has an uncanny way of “doing for me what I cannot do for myself.”
A situation presented itself which helped me transition to a new emotional bottom in my sobriety and gave me the courage to face the fact that I wanted and needed the Al-Anon program in my life. And at the same time an Al-Anon group was started right inside my workplace. Could the message be any clearer?
I started attending this Al-Anon meeting and have become an active member of this group. My sponsor is also a double winner and he helped guide me through the Al-Anon steps, traditions and concepts and helped me to better understand the Al-Anon ideas and corresponding principles. Although the spiritual principles are the same as in Alcoholics Anonymous, the focus is slightly different in that I am seeing how the disease of alcoholism has impacted my life and how I have been affected by it.
The beauty of the Al-Anon program is that it has brought the focus back to me. For some reason or another, I had been fixated on others and how I could change them, often inviting conflict and misfortune my way.
Working the Al-Anon steps and traditions in my life has brought about a particular dimension of recovery that I had not yet tapped in to – even at 15 years of AA sobriety. I’ve come to believe that many of us who grew up affected by alcoholism could benefit from the Al-Anon program and might wish to consider making room for it as part of our recovery plan.
I have heard it said for us double winners, “We get sober through Alcoholics Anonymous but get happy through Al-Anon” and I am really beginning to understand these words. I have felt for a while now the true meaning of the 3 C’s of Al-Anon – I didn’t Cause it and cannot Control or Cure it. I am much better able at practicing loving detachment with the practicing alcoholics in my life and not feeling hurt or angry over their behaviour. Ultimately, it is not my job to fix anybody. After all, I could not fix myself – how arrogant of me to think that I can fix you!
I have a much deeper understanding of the principle of Step One and what powerlessness over alcohol truly is. I did not understand this concept in the way that I do since coming to Al-Anon. In Al-Anon, our focus is on the family disease of alcoholism and that all are powerless over the disease of alcoholism. I am now much better able to let go and let God where strong emotional ties are concerned. Sometimes it is really hard, but I practice it to the best of my ability.
I am proud to be a double winner and a member of these two fellowships. It gives me a fresh perspective on the phrase, “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”