Al-Anon Agnostica


By Lisa M.

Hi, my name is Lisa and I am not an alcoholic.

I am, however, the daughter, the ex-wife and the mother of alcoholics.

I was raised in a house with a father who drank. No surprise, my first husband also drank. I had accepted drinking excessively as the norm, though I myself didn’t drink much. It wasn’t until I saw my son starting to drink excessively that I started to think otherwise.

Parenting through the teenage years is challenging on so many levels. I accept that teenagers by definition do stupid things and gave them a wide berth. But when I started to notice behavior beyond the “social experimenting” phase I became deeply concerned.  Curiously enough, it was not my son’s drinking and pot smoking that concerned me, rather how he was when he was sober. Angry, manipulative, increasingly aggressive and worse. This was the kid who had been awarded most popular boy in his HS class and now, no one wanted anything to do with him. I managed to get him to a therapist and my concern was more focused on his mental health. Of course I wanted the drinking and pot to stop but that was beyond my control. I had kicked him out of my home and he was living with his dad. I was afraid that maybe these were the early days of schizophrenia, bi polar or what I had no idea. Nor did the professionals. It was all so premature.

Fast forward to his sophomore year in college when I got the dreaded phone call. “Your son is in jail, we have isolated him in the acute mental health ward.” I remember choking out “I’ve been expecting your call”. And its true, having witnessed the previous years of his erratic behavior and self medicating, something was going to happen, it was just a matter of when.

The six months that followed the arrest were particularly difficult for all of us. I scrambled to learn all I could of his dual diagnosis. And much to my son’s credit, he quit the drugs and alcohol. He took his new anti-psychotic prescription drugs and he started to go to AA meetings.

As his father was now active in AA, our son started the program with his dad.

I have been grateful for that. They now have their own communities, and they share a language.

At the same time, they were going to AA, I started going to NAMI meetings (National Alliance for Mental Illness), which were extremely helpful and supportive. I can’t say enough great things about NAMI.

And I also cautiously ventured into the Al-Anon arena for the first time.

I committed to six meetings at a few different locations. For years I had been fighting and kicking the religious paradigm of AA – which is an integral part of Al-Anon – all the while desperately seeking information and support (beyond my personal therapy sessions).  There was so much new jargon and rules to learn. I entered “the room” for the first time with my atheist / free thinking / humanist ideas tucked away for the evening. Throughout my experience, I found myself becoming increasingly cynical. My bad. While others were reciting the Lord’s Prayer, I was wondering where my Jewish friends were going for help. But more importantly, where was I going to go for help?

Meeting #2 I listened to a man share a poem in honor of his recently deceased friend. After his share, the group battled for a while regarding the issue of bringing in a poem that came from outside the big book. I had no idea what was going on, it just left me feeling sad for the guy grieving his loss. I was put off by the dogma.

At another meeting I sought out a potential sponsor who told me he couldn’t help me because I was female. Apparently only women can sponsor women. I just wanted to talk with someone who struck me as otherwise an intelligent human being. He told me those were the rules and they were designed to protect vulnerable people from being taken advantage of. I resent that someone who doesn’t know me, thinks they know what’s best for me. If I didn’t think talking to a man would be a smart idea, then I would not have done it. I’m sure anytime you put men and women together in a room, something “could” happen. Why not talk about that… we’re all adults.  To say nothing of how this works in the LGBT community.

“Take what you want” 

What I took away from these meetings was that there were a lot of well meaning people out there in Al-Anon, but the shoe simply did not fit. I’m thinking the AA policies found in these rooms are way out-dated and I did not want to get wrapped up in the politics… I just wanted to go to an Al-Anon meeting to learn more about living with a “qualifier”. I stopped going after the six meetings, feeling even more lonely and frustrated. I never took the time to explore the 12 steps. I could not get passed step 1. God? Higher power? Switching names did not clear my issue of simply not believing in either. I wasn’t even clear why I should do the steps, after all, it was my son who had the addiction… it was the “qualifiers” who were supposed to surrender.

Why me?

Could the 12 step program – Al-Anon’s “suggested” program too – help me grieve the loss of my son as I once knew him? Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  Could it help me recognize that his young life was now beyond my own?  Could it help me to be a better person / mother? I wanted to learn what he was being exposed to in AA, much the way a parent wants to know what’s going on in school. If he was learning a new language, I wanted to educate myself. Yeah, I get his sobriety is his business and I have never felt so powerless in my life.

I believe I didn’t voluntarily give up power, it was taken from me. A powerless mother watching her beloved boy flopping like a fish out of water. I watched as he gasped for breath. I watched as his friends left him. I watched as meds came and went. I watched life as he and I once knew it, go out the window. I yearned for the support of a community.

My son and I are cut of the same cloth with our shared histories of not believing in God or a higher power. I listened to him now as he started in his AA recovery. He expressed wishing he could believe in a god, thinking it would help to make his sobriety easier. He met a missionary one day and came home reporting that “This guy’s belief in God seems to make his life so much easier”, but he just couldn’t do it. Then, one day, he told me that his new definition of god was a “group of drunks”. The group support of his AA meetings was strong and I was relieved he felt comforted with his new idea of g.o.d.

Three years later, my son remains sober. He has always had a certain power of conviction (sometimes arrogant and off-putting) but with regards to his sobriety, it has served him well. Sadly, I haven’t heard from him in over a year. He’s angry at me.

Last month, I received a letter from my son. He wants to connect. His letter has prompted me to go back into the AA arena to learn more. Again, curious about the process but this time more focused on learning about taking my own fearless personal inventory.

Fast forward – finding the AA Agnostica website with its alternative 12 steps was a cross over to several languages that I could understand. Freethinkers, atheist, humanist, etc. I found a sense of relief as I read and reread and compared the alternative steps. I thought about what the steps had in common outside the religious paradigm of the traditional steps. The White Bison Steps with their one word per step made it simplest of all; and it helped me to find the common denominator.  Step one. Honesty. For some, that may be admitting they’re powerless over their addiction. For me, it meant admitting I was powerless over everybody else but myself. All these years I had been battling my addiction to control. I was addicted to anger. It was my go to for pushing people away and numbing and isolating myself. Causing others and myself pain. Clearly my addiction had taken control of my life in a way that wasn’t healthy for me.

The White Bison Step 2 is a bit more challenging as it requires me to think about Hope. “Hope” is a distant concept for me; much like praying for something to happen and I don’t do that either. So in an effort to work step 2, I do “hope” that I can continue to learn to cope better with my life and lay my sword down. And I  “hope” that I can continue to learn to stay focused (I tend to say “sober”) on living an emotionally healthier life. My life. And only my life.

Look to this dayAnd I “hope” that there is someone out there (male or female) to help guide me through the rest of the steps.

I haven’t gone back into the rooms of Al-Anon (perhaps I need an Al-Anon Agnostica meeting) in a while, but I am staying here on line at AA Agnostica, reading and feeling a sense of connection to a new group of folks that seem to have much to offer me.

In fact, as I read on and compare the alternative steps, I see that the importance of community and interaction with peers is huge. I understand more than ever how g.o.d. got to be a “group of drunks” for some.

So perhaps that is what I’m looking for here at AA Agnostica… a group of well seasoned drunks to help support me so that I may learn to walk the walk of a healthier life. Sober. As in “Earnestly thoughtful and calm”.

Dr. Silkwood states that emotional and mental quirks are symptoms of humankind. I think that alcoholics and non, have more in common than their “quirks”. We are human beings all striving for a cleaner and more fulfilling life.  One day at a time.  I would add the words of Kalidasa, “Look well therefore to this day”.


I went to my first AA meeting not too long ago. It may be interesting to note that while God was prevalent at the Al-Anon meetings I had attended, there was no mention or sign of god at my first AA meeting. It was an open discussion group. There was one placard on the table and it said “You are not alone”. There may have been more posted on the walls, but I didn’t notice. The meeting ended with a circle of hand holding, a poem was shared and a silent meditation. By the way, it was a full house.

On a personal note, after one year of silence from my son, we recently spent much time together. He remains sober after three years. He’s working, has a girl friend, goes to a variety of meetings (including a Buddhist AA), attends night school, exercises, meditates and in September, he will be going back to college full time.

I am reminded of a few years back when a doctor at Yale told me that because of my son’s young age, his brain was not fully formed and that it could change – for worse or better. In that respect, my son got very lucky. He is clear eyed, medication free, physically fit, thoughtful and thriving. He has worked really hard to get to this point and I am eternally grateful to all who have been a part of his life of sobriety. Thank you all.

34 Responses

  1. Christopher G says:

    Absolutely wonderful post!! I am going to try and introduce this at our We Don’t Know meeting this week, as well as at the two Alonon ventures, and the poem. Outstanding!

  2. larry k says:

    Great story and so far a happy ending!

    I have always felt badly for those people who by circumstance, get caught up in the unwellness of others.

    Regaining ones “self” is a huge undertaking regardless of how we came to be out of control. How we find our recovery shoes that fit…is by trying on a lot of different pairs. We need faith that we will find something that works. It is an everyday effort but at only one day at a time speeds. We can’t be where we aren’t… just make the best of where we are right now. This is the practice that we can improve upon our own self mastery.

    Thank you for a great share.

  3. life-j says:

    Lisa, thanks for sharing this, and bringing to our attention that it is not only alcoholics that need un-godly meetings. Luckily, I believe, unbeliever AA meetings are more openminded than AA meetings at large, so that alanons can find some support there, but we do need to all give each other all the support we can. Hopefully in time we can have a special agnostica section for alanons, too, somehow.

  4. John M. says:

    Dear Lisa,

    This is a very beautiful and heartfelt post you have shared with all of us.

    At the end of our Responsibility Declaration we say that we want “the hand of AA always to be there” and I am so glad that our particular variation of the AA recovery experience in the form of AA Agnostica has been of help to you (as well as the White Bison perspective).

    Best wishes for you and your son in the months and years ahead!

  5. bob k says:

    There are some nonsensical and even contradictory adages that get tossed around in AA as if they reflect “the wisdom of the ages.” An absolute beauty is, “AA opened up the gates of Hell, and let me out.” A little ironic in an organization with a great deal of focus on overcoming self-centeredness. “Oh, it was all so horrible for poor me.”

    I’ve stuck my toe into Al-Anon, and recently ACA, and although these groups are not my “cup of tea,” they shine a light on the horrific damage caused by people like me. ACA especially is a land of broken toys. The poor people who loved me suffered more than I did. The folks who love drunks suffered more than the drunks. We are wise to be cognizant of that as we move forward.

    • Roger says:

      What’s ACA, bob?

      • bob k says:

        Better known at one time as ACoA – Adult Children of Alcoholics.

        I qualify.

        I’ve been in love a couple of times with alcoholics. There is some option of escape. I got out, but not unscathed. I have not had the alcoholic/addict child experience. It’s hard to even imagine. As to having an alcoholic parent, some are worse that others. A good portion of the ACA folks are SEVERELY wounded. It’s really very sad.

    • Brien says:

      A friend in AA suggested I attend a Al-Anon meeting. This was years ago, I felt like such a fraud I felt I had no business being there.

      Funny, that is how I felt in AA meetings especially when I was asked to read How It Works.

    • Lisa McInnis says:

      I don’t know if Al-anon folks suffer more or less than our ‘qualifiers’… but most do it sober. Perhaps I just answered my own query.

  6. Mike says:

    Your story sounded very familiar to me, except that my parents’ addiction was Christianity rather than alcohol or drugs. It is little wonder that I am an atheist. But the really familiar part was about your son. My son lost his first job while still in his teens because he was drunk. He remains an alcoholic in denial, deeply angry and estranged from me for over 10 years. We went to a therapist together for two sessions, but he declared them to be unhelpful and refused to return. At this point I am only faintly hopeful that something or someone can help him find his way to sanity and peace.
    I have found help and inspiration in ACA. Our group includes both believers and non-believers so the emphasis is on the recovery, not adherence to any “official” reference or any god.
    Thanks for the link to the White Bison Steps.

  7. Brien says:

    Great post Lisa. Congrats to your son I hope he continues on this path.

  8. Laurie A says:

    Six months after I got sober in 1984 my wife Jenny had a nervous breakdown. Her doctor told Jenny she would help her but that she should also go to Al-Anon. ‘Why?’ said Jen. ‘He’s the one with the problem.’ ‘But you’re the one in my surgery,’ the doctor replied. So Jenny began attending Al-Anon. She said she just sat and sobbed through the first three meetings. Jenny has also attended many open AA meetings. I’m grateful to AA and Al-Anon for helping us to repair our marriage. We used to give joint chairs at AA/Al-Anon gatherings. I would share first and say, ‘I’ll tell you my story – then you will hear the authorised version.’ Because I had no idea how my drinking affected my wife and children while I was drinking. Jenny still attends occasional Al-Anon meetings and maybe it is different in the UK but she has not found the meetings she attends overly ‘religious’ in character. Maybe we shouldn’t judge the fellowships with their many thousands of groups on anecdotal impressions of a handful that we have been to. Chuck C said he told his wife, ‘You know, if it wasn’t for us AA’s you Al-Anons wouldn’t have a program.’ To which she replied, ‘Yes, and it wasn’t for you AA’s we wouldn’t need one.’

  9. Tommy H says:

    A heart-warming story, Lisa, thanks for posting it.

    My A.A. wife who used to attend AlAnon until she figured she wasn’t going to squeeze anything more out of it says the only person in her group that wasn’t a control freak was another A.A.

  10. Ann M. says:

    I went to Al-Anon for a while after I was sober, (and continued AA) having been recently divorced from an alcoholic husband. I learned more there about working with alcoholics than I had learned in AA, and it made sponsoring go much more smoothly. I did get fed up with one group which continually talked about “my alcoholic” as if they owned one. I also was appalled by their sending people away if they tried to talk about drug abuse. One woman they sent away had a husband who had had 4 DWI’s from alcohol. She mentioned that she thought her husband’s problem was cocaine only, because that is what he had told her. I happened to know better because I had done the initial interview with him, but of course could not disclose that.

  11. Ted says:

    Thanks, Lisa.

    I’m so glad your son was able to find a way through the religious rhetoric of AA.

    My own recovery has been seriously threatened by the unneccessary (for me) complication and distraction of an invisible, silent third-party superhero thrown into the equation but so far I have found the strength to resist the indoctrination part of my local meetings and to see that my higher power is simply a previously unrecognized aspect of MYSELF that DOES have the power to change the things about my life that I can, and that I want to.

    Stay strong, Ted.

    • Lisa McInnis says:

      I couldn’t agree more. ‘… an unrecognized aspect of myself’.
      I have come to recognize that aspect of myself as my higher power…as in, I am my own higher power.
      I know that sounds terribly high and lofty to many, but that’s me.
      It doesn’t mean I haven’t had help from others, but ultimately it is me making the decision. Right or wrong. If I mess up, it’s mine. If I score, I own that as well. It’s the part about surrendering to a higher power (or what ever one chooses to call it) that seem so off putting. I got myself in the mess with no help from a higher power, i own that. Same ownership as getting myself out of the mess.
      I believe in the power of positive reinforcement. And if I do something – simple as baking a cake or complicated like turning my life around – then I did it. I succeeded. I can own that and feel really good about my accomplishments. When I feel good about myself and the decisions I make, life just gets sunnier.
      No invisible silent third party super hero for me.
      Thanx for your thoughtful post, Ted.

  12. Oren says:

    Thanks, Lisa.

    I think that for people deeply involved in addiction, a “change of consciousness” is necessary to get out of the repetitive and negative cycles and patterns of behavior. This may be the same thing that Bill W. called a “profound spiritual experience” (or whatever it was that he wrote).

    When my very bright 25-year-old wife began attending Alanon around 1971, she quickly began changing her mode of interaction with this alcoholic husband of hers. Something she learned there helped her to stop trying to control me and my week-long binges, and gave her some options for calmly coping with the times that I was incapacitated. The emotional atmosphere of our space together changed in ways that were vey apparent, even to me.

    When I found her reading “The Varieties of Religious Experience” by William James, she explained that she was exploring the notion of a higher power, as she was hearing about at Alanon. She did not react to my sarcastic comment about “becoming a Bible-banger”, but only said that she was looking into different ways of having a spiritual life.

    I don’t know that she ever prayed seriously, but she gradually seemed to get stronger, and at the same time, her peacefulness made it possible for us to discuss my drinking, and not fight about it. The literature that she left out was where I first learned that alcoholism is a progressive, chronic disease that is always fatal if left untreated – but is treatable. Somehow, that stark, unemotional printed statement got past my defenses.

    By January of 1973, my wife had developed the strength and clarity of mind to make a decision, with my sister’s help, to pull off an intervention that resulted in my entering treatment at a VA hospital, and in my sobriety.

    We attended countless AA and Alanon meetings over the years, and I’m sure they helped with our lasting recovery. She was saddened by the “control freaks” in some groups, but in typical Alanon fashion, she always said, “They’re probably doing the best they can” – with the unspoken message of “I’m only responsible for my own thoughts and behaviors.”

    Even after we both tapered off on the meetings – largely because of the increasing religiosity – I know that she regularly dipped into her “One Day at a Time in Alanon” book, and I know for a fact that she continued to practice Alanon principles with me (and others).

    I credit the Alanon program for giving her the “change of consciousness” that helped her cope with me, and then help me find the road to recovery – and survival. I owe Alanon a lot.

    When I was offered my first human services job, I asked her, “How do I thank my higher power if I don’t really believe in one?” She said something like “I don’t worry about it, I’m just ‘acting as if’.” That was pretty much how we operated for the next 31 years.

    I lost her to breast cancer ten years and four months ago, but what she gave me, and what Alanon made possible for her and for me – that’s all still with me.

    As a thoroughly agnostic – and I mean AGNOSTIC – recovering drunk in AA, it saddens me to think that the religiosity of our time may be driving people away from Alanon as well as AA. I do hope for the continuing development of Alanon groups that can foster “changes of consciousness”, even for people who aren’t looking for “spiritual experiences”.


  13. JP says:

    Lisa, thanks for your share. The White Bison steps, these are the principles some of us refer to. I recently tried AlAnon again. Bought the literature… later tossed it. Now I am pretty defiant and maybe I should have tried six meetings but just couldn’t do it. I found ACA very helpful as well as the books by Charles Whitfield.
    All the best in your recovery.

  14. Thomas B. says:

    An excellent story, Lisa, most moving and poignant — Thank You !~!~!

    After hitting his first rehab at age 14, my son, Tommy, spent the next decade in and out of treatment, jails, institutions and living on the street. His mother and I found considerable solace in applying the “tough love” approach of Families Anonymous, oriented primarily to family members with teenage/young adult addicts. Tommy today is in his 10th year of recovery through yoga and a Buddhist men’s meeting.

    One of my first half-way measure attempts at sponsorship was with Tony A., founder of ACA and the author of the “Laundry List.” I also knew Jack E., who wrote “The Solution” for ACA. Working the ACA program has immensely helped my recovery, being considerably more helpful in getting to “causes and conditions” than the evangelical, pietistic cant of the Big Book.

    I reflect that Bill W. was an ACA, whose father, a drunk, abandoned the family and moved to western Canada. As well, his mother also abandoned him and his sister, dumping them with her parents in East Dorset, VT, while she attended medical school in Boston. To my mind, this fueled his lifelong struggles with depression, smoking and 13th-stepping.

    • bob k says:

      Gilly Wilson was an irresponsible drunk, and a playa. Emily was neurotic, self-centered and cold. The grandparents were responsible, but elderly and had their own issues including the unimaginable grief of losing a child. Fayette Griffith was described as “taciturn.”

      Bill was screwed – genetically, temperamentally, and environmentally.

  15. Laura says:

    Dear Lisa,
    Thanks for your input! As a daughter, former wife, frequent girlfriend, alcoholic, and sponsor, I guess I am a “double winner” (AA and Alanon). While I seem to suffer double the heartache, I have become that more compassionate by being able to empathize with more people. I am also “severely mentally ill” and find great support in NAMI, as did my mom. Alcoholism is truly a family disease; that much I know is true. Take what you like (“Detach with love”) and let go and let GOOD stuff come.

  16. Dan L says:

    Thank you Lisa for telling us your story. I will always be indebted to the Alanon people for teaching me part of the true cost of alcoholism. I still spend some time surging between paralysing guilt and familiar denial when I am dealing with some of those who were touched by my alcoholism. My children are both growth and have a very pragmatic view of the whole thing which is sometimes disturbing when I am trying to work on amends. I have visited Alanon from time to time but more of less as courtesy visits from AA.

    I wanted to tell this little Alanon/AA story. My mother is 83 y.o., a normal drinker from a hard drinking Irish family and she was well versed in the ins and outs of alcohol addiction. My father was an alcoholic in complete denial although he was an unusually well behaved one. I drank heavily all of my life and alcoholically for the last few decades. My father passed away thirteen years ago and I came into recovery three years ago. When I started recovery My Mom was overjoyed and shared with me that she had been going to Alanon for many years. I said I thought that was wonderful and of course she did that because of my Dad. She looked at me for a long time and pointed out she still had to go even though Dad had been gone for ten years. I said “How come?” She said “You still aren’t very smart are you?”

    Thanks again;
    Dan L

  17. Maria T. says:

    Thank you for sharing your story; it was uplifting and made me smile.
    AA Agnostica saved this alcoholic from the disenchantment I had come to feel after my first 12 months of god AA. I was weary of it and feel lucky to have found an edifying place where I can hang out with like minded people who have something thoughtful and interesting to say.

  18. JBP says:

    Man oh man this site is getting pretty serious about who gets to talk. I’m referring to the math that is demanded before you can post a response. Double digit addition, that’s no foolin’ around.

    But to the post. Lisa, I don’t know if anybody has clued you in to the fact God, is easily substituted by the more prosaic doorknob or steel girder. Many folks who are baffled by, surprised by or outright hostile toward the religious components of the Big Book and many of the groups who believe AA meetings are akin to prayer circles and, therefore, decidedly religious in nature and practice.
    But there’s an escape clause that nobody in any AA meeting will take issue with, and that’s that there is something holy about doorknobs.
    I’m not entirely sure how you approach the doorknob; if you’re to bring it gifts or give it a damn good polishing, but it’s certain, the holy doorknob is everywhere and therefore easy to petition. And if you don’t get the answer you’re praying for, you can go back to that doorknob, get on your knees so you’re eye to eye and say, “Okay bud, what’s the deal? I pray to you and nothing! You can be replaced you know. You’ve got 24 hours then I’m on my way to Home Depot.”
    If you need further directions, you can call on more senior members of the group you go to, to help you. Sorry I can’t be of greater service but I tried the doorknob thing only once. Just coming from the meeting I just couldn’t wait to get home and put the multiple deities in my house to the test. So I stopped at a small store that was closed and I knelt. While composing my prayer the police came by and I was arrested. I’ll never forget the disrespect of these servants of the people, “we got some knob-head freak praying – according to him – to the holy doorknob. Should we book ‘im at the station or just take take ‘im right to the white coats?”
    Honestly, I was so humiliated that I never did it again. In fact it seemed silly, childishly silly. And I, to this day, know that seeking miracles from invisible guys in the sky or doorknobs, even if people cross their hearts and proclaim, it really works, will not work. I wish you the best of luck and I haven’t written this in jest of your pursuit to understand your son, but if you’ve been with him since he was born and are still baffled by him, it’s almost certain that few at Al Anon or AA meetings will have the answers you are looking for. They will suggest otherwise but your son has a diagnosed mental illness that to this day remains a genuine mystery to those who work in the field. There are drugs, as you know, and the likelihood of progress in treating schizophrenics will be of a chemical nature. Take counsel from doctors and find solace in the company of cherished friends. Best to you Lisa.

    • JP says:

      awesome post JBP.
      I am always afraid I will get the calculation wrong!

      • Dan L says:

        Ah… don’t worry. It is just like AA. If you don’t get it right the first time you just try again… a different way.

  19. Mark D. says:

    Well, said, my friend. I love you.

  20. LouB says:

    I have found ACA to be less “god” focussed, too. Much less so than what I have found at Al-Anon meetings. I’m guessing that at some point ACAagnostica and even AlanonAgnostica will catch on too! 🙂

  21. Joe C. says:

    Thanks Lisa,

    Often the AA member is over the initial shock of recovery and pink-clouding it while the Al-Anon is still suffering. I was at our local Ontario Regional Conference of AA/Al-Anon/Alateen a few years ago. The AA meeting was at capacity so I went to the Al-Anon meeting in a room directly below. The Al-Anon meeting was not at capacity. There were maybe 150 sitting to hear this speaker flown in from LA. We were sparsely spread through a room with a capacity of 1,000. It was a somber meeting. More than once we were interrupted by manic applause or laughter permeating from the ceiling.

    “That’s where the laughter always happens,” said the speaker looking to the ceiling, “in the AA meeting. Here in Al-Anon – not so much.”

    Al-Anons are told to attend an AA meeting, maybe one a month. It’s a lesson and/or reminder of what the affliction of alcoholism is. I think, being an AA, that alcoholics ought to attend an Al-Anon meeting from time to time. It shows us the damage we do – how our actions cause suffering in others. The suffering that the narcissism of addiction inflicts on others (as I have done to people I “love”) can live on, long after our own suffering has turned to hope and a renewed love of life becomes our new normal. I need to be reminded of this, from time to time.

    Thanks again Lisa M.

    • Lisa McInnis says:

      I agree. I have always thought it would be a good idea if Al-anon went to an occasional AA meeting and also the reverse. We have so much to learn from each other, and I suspect much in common.
      I did feel a bit uncomfortable at the one AA meeting, not actually there for the shared reason of not to drink and since the open discussion was about honesty, it wasn’t helping.
      As I mentioned, it was a valuable meeting for me. The lack of judgement in the room was refreshing. As it appears to be here on Agnostica as well.
      Watching someone I love suffer thru addiction is heartbreaking and challenging. To endure, it required of me a radical shift in focus, honed coping skills, a better understanding of the 12 steps. And a few dear friends. Much gratitude.

  22. Faye says:

    Hi Lisa –
    Thank you for your post. As I move deeper into my own AA recovery, I am ever more grateful for those who have embraced change, and allow me to develop my own spiritual path, without being constrained by the concepts of God and Higher Power.

    Knowing how AA has helped me, I see the greater need for stronger, more inclusive Al Anon Meetings for the people in my own life, who are struggling with the same emotions as me.

    I hope that we can get your message to more people in Al Anon, so that everyone can learn that they ‘no longer need to be alone.’

    Best wishes to you, your son and your family.

  23. Theresa says:

    Oh boy would I love to talk to you. I tried getting an agnostic al-anon started… and was shot down and “reported to council”. Later I learned that I did not need to go through my district. Please email me and we can chat. I knew I could not be the only non traditional higher power al-al-anon-erupt here.

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