Al-Anon, a story of Community

Al-Anon, a story of Community
I have been surrounded by alchoholics much of my life.

In my hometown, I received the great, good privilege of serving as UNofficial pastor to parts of the AA community. Once, when asked to do a funeral service, I arranged to attend the visitation for the express purpose of getting to know the deceased in preparation for the eulogy the next day. To my surprise, more than thirty persons stayed after the visitation to speak with me. After the third person introduced himself by saying, "Hello my name is Bill" and the group responded, "Hi Bill," I realized, in effect, I was attending an AA meeting. I left feeling humbled and impressed. These folks experienced the depths of despair and literally resurrected their lives through what it means to be community in AA. Interdependence is the key----long word, complex meaning and compelling task.

After several of these experiences with AA, I couldn't help but be envious that the AA community somehow seems to do community better than most churches! Why is that? One alcoholic friend told me the answer rests in an AA saying, "Churches are full of people who are afraid of going to hell; AA is full of people who have been there already and don't want to go back." Great wisdom. Another friend says the difference is that AA folks declare the king has no clothes on; church folks sometimes know but are afraid to say so in community.

Remember the scene in the Sally Field movie, "Places in the Heart." After all the hurt and conflict plays itself out on the screen, the camera pans the little church and we see all the people who have been part of the saga…black folks, white folks, deceased, living, perpetrators and victims…all there together in God's house of worship, around God's table and part of God's family…a fabulous, accurate and appropriate vision of community.

So after years of knowing the value of AA and being surrounded by alcoholics in my personal life, I finally decide this week to attend an Al-Anon meeting. For those who don't know, Al-Anon is the organizational sister of AA that is for those people who love an alcoholic---husband, wife, brother, sister, child, parent, or friend---it matters not. What matters is that a community gathers to support you in learning to love and relate to someone who drinks.

In spite of a great deal of training and experience in therapy and relationships, I have much to learn from this community.  

updated: 7 years ago

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Elizabeth M.Saturday, February 6th 2010 11:00PM

I love you Brenda, Thank you for doing those services.You have help me so in so many ways

Cherry MooreFriday, January 22nd 2010 8:32PM

Somehow I have gotten behind on reading your posts, Brenda.  This one I had to respond to the very same minute I read it.

I have been going to Al-Anon for almost five years.  I am one of millions who can honestly say, "Al-Anon saved my life."  The alcoholic in my life has changed...some but, for an Al-Anon the important thing is the change in ME.  

Some people call Al-Anon a "selfish" program because it is all about us.  It is about us and our Higher Power.  Like you I have been immersed in religion in one way or another for decades.  I still am.  But what I find in Al-Anon is a place where trusted friends (and strangers) hear my pain, understand where I've been and point me toward a hopeful future by sharing their experience, strength and hope.  

I could go on and on...and I guess I have!  "Keep coming back.  It works if you work it and it won't if you don't!  So work it cause you're worth it!"

Cherry, a grateful Al-Anon.

cynthia cainMonday, October 26th 2009 4:20PM

Brenda

I am not surprised to hear that you ended up finding Al Anon! I have gone for years and it has helped me.. so much.

We miss you here in Lex! Read my blog??

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