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Released from Shame over My Son’s Drinking

I woke up filled with dread. It was the day of my monthly breakfast with a small group of moms whose children went to school with mine. My biggest fear was that someone would ask me about my oldest child who had graduated three years earlier.

On that Friday morning, he was 2,000 miles away, with no address, and I did not know whether he was alive or dead. The pain of the last several years consumed me. If only I could feel safe to tell my story, but I knew sharing my secret with this group of moms would brand me and my family in a most unacceptable way.

A short time after that breakfast, I walked into my first Al‑Anon meeting. I was greeted by several warm and friendly faces and invited to take a seat. Once settled into my chair, I noticed a folded card sitting on the table in front of me that read, “I didn’t cause it, I cannot control it, and I cannot cure it.”

As others shared their stories, I noticed many were like mine. I also became aware that there was no criticism, judgment, or advice given; instead, those in the room simply listened. The strength in the stories shared that day gave me hope, and the warmth and loving interchange among the people in the meeting allowed me to release the shame that had been holding me prisoner.

Shame tells me that anyone who knows my story will think less of me. The truth is, telling my story to safe people in Al‑Anon offers me the freedom and opportunity to move forward through my circumstances.

– By Tammy B., Florida

The Forum, October 2021

Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.