Newcomer struggles with guilt—second time around

Many years ago, my sister asked me to take her to an A.A. meeting. Whoa! I could never do that. What if someone saw me? No, not me, never. I had a nice job in a big Fortune 500 company.

The company's policy, I learned, was to fire a person with a drinking problem as a last resort. The policy was to seek rehabilitation for employees via a Twelve Step program.

Knowing the policy gave me courage I didn't know I had. The first meeting I took my sister to was a shock—nothing like I expected. The second meeting with a different group was the same experience—loving concern, peaceful, and serene.

I asked the A.A. members how I could get that for me. I wanted it. I needed it. Their answer was, "In Al-Anon. It's the room next door."

I was sure I had caused my sister's alcohol problem because I used to tease her until she cried.

The Al-Anon meetings were welcoming, loving, caring, and simply wonderful. My wife came to two meetings a week and she liked it so much that she and some of her Al-Anon friends started a daytime meeting.

With a job promotion, a relocation, and then my wife's lengthy illness and untimely death, I drifted away from the program. Even though I didn't attend, I believe the strength I gained from Al-Anon kept me alive through a very difficult, yet beautiful, time in my life.

After many years, I'm back in Al-Anon. I may be quiet because I'm embarrassed for being away for so long, but I love it. For now, just let me give back by being here listening, really listening, and learning. When I have courage, I'll share what has helped me.

By Stan B., New Mexico