I went to my first Al-Anon meeting.
I wasn’t nervous at all when I left for the meeting. When I got there and sat down I was suddenly doing all my nervous things. People were inviting and warm, but also people were inviting and warm. They were paying attention to me and fawning and supportive and caring and gosh, that is a lot.
But I went. And I stayed. And I plan to go back.
Really, I already knew I’d go back before the meeting. I’ve been to AA meetings and OA meetings and I know the program is good. I know the people are supportive.
Well, most of the people. OA was a completely different fish. I once had a man tell me I didn’t belong there because I was too skinny. As if my appearance precludes me from using food as a coping mechanism. As if anyone in food recovery has to forfeit community support once they find healthier tools to survive. But I digress.
Al-Anon isn’t like that. I can be there for any reason, for any timeline in my life, for any alcoholic who has touched my life. And I didn’t really understand until recently that I probably should have been going all along.
I should have gone six years ago when Chris and I started dating. In the days when a small argument could have compromised his short sobriety. Or when he switched jobs for his dream job and then they insisted he throw away his integrity or quit. And he quit. At an immeasurable hit to his self worth, closing not only that dream in his mind, but a true hope for any dream at all. Or the moment we got pregnant and then miscarried and didn’t get to keep Caleb and he retreated from life for a bit. I could have used Al-Anon when his doctor and seizure medication fucked him over completely. Or when he started taking another medicine he put all his faith in and it backfired and, for all intents and purposes, took away his sobriety. For three years.
I could have used Al-Anon. I could have used the support and guidance of people. And I just…I didn’t know better. I didn’t know there was help for me for all of that or where to find it or, really, that I needed the help. That I deserved the help. I thought maybe that’s just how it was going to be from now on. I knew I needed help–wanted help–, but I didn’t know the help I needed was possible to receive. That it was out there.
And so now here I am. Going to meetings. Getting the community I have so desperately needed. Allowing myself the self-care of actual help. Of not going at it alone. Of being told I’m braver and stronger for showing up than I ever was of trying to hold it together by myself. And so I’m gonna keep doing this awhile.