Being honest with myself
I thought I knew who I was. I was the organiser, the manager, the person who had it all together, who knew all the answers, who got things done and didn't have time for emotional rubbish. Yes, I was all of that. But there were other parts of me - the sad, bitter, hurt me, all stuffed down and hidden.
When I came to Al-Anon I slowly began to realise that the real me was not always perfect, always in control. I started to open up the pile of locked drawers and hidden caskets of the unacceptable that I had been hiding from myself. There was a 'me' that was crying out in pain, a gentle, tender me that had been hidden for decades. There was a destructive me I found as well, one that kept the sensitive me in chains of guilt and remorse.
Working the Al-Anon steps, I gradually found all of me, the whole package. Underneath the armour, I was hurting and fearful, and sometimes mean and aggressive. Only by seeing and accepting the real me could I begin to heal, and start finding the happy creative me.
Above all else, Al-Anon is a programme of honesty. Without honesty, we cannot progress through the steps, we cannot heal. Luckily it is also a kindly, calm and gentle programme, so we can get rid of the denial and get honest as slowly as we need to. I found that some of my pain was buried so deep t hat even when I talked about it, I didn't feel it. I didn't even feel the need to cry. It took other people to say to me, 'Hey, that was bad, that was sad, that was horrible!' for me to accept my true story. Only then could I really start to feel the suppressed pain and begin the task of truly facing it, and begin to grieve and then let go.
We need a safe space to unburden ourselves. A place where we know we can say the un-sayable, and have it heard and acknowledged face-to-face without comment, criticism or advice. The gift of a true Al-Anon meeting gives me the wonder of being heard and understood and accepted. There is no greater start to a new life than this.