A Deeper Dive into Al-Anon Literature:
Workbooks, Pamphlets and Less Familiar Gems
- A member shares, “There is much else in the CAL library that I find very helpful, and useful, but the one other item that has, for me, risen to the level of indispensable is the workbook, now 2 years old, Reaching for Personal Freedom. When this came out, I took a 2-week sabbatical, and worked through it (along with Paths to Recovery), and found the experience transformative. Since then, I have continued to work it myself, with a small study group, with sponsees, and in meetings. I recently started a new meeting (in my new home in NC), and "Reaching" is the cornerstone of the meeting. I believe it is one of the best pieces of CAL yet.”
Some of the literature focuses on individual topics that might be of interest to particular members. For example The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage has been a standby for people in marriages or partnerships with alcoholics.
- A member shares,” When I read The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage I was blown away by the description of the alcoholic as a kind of Jekyll and Hyde. I thought his crazy unpredictable behavior was because of me – that when he was sweet and wonderful and understanding it was because he loved me and when he was mean or cold or violent, I’d somehow made him angry or he just didn’t love me anymore. But there he was in the book in black and white – and it had nothing to do with me. It was mind blowing.”
- A member shares, “My beloved drinks and I am often devastated by it. I was struck with the usage of the word "courtesy" in the book The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage. It was suggested to treat our spouse with kindness and dignity - that they are a complete human being who deserves and is worthy of respect. Taking this to heart and putting it into practice has enabled me to experience relief from my fluctuating reactions to my partner's dis-ease, as well as great joy at having him in my life.”
For members who have children, the pamphlet on what to share with your children about alcoholism can be very helpful.
- A member shares, “I didn’t know what to tell my daughter. She loved her father and he loved her. I just didn’t want her to feel like his rages were her fault. But I also didn’t want her to think less of her dad. Someone at a meeting suggested I take a look at a pamphlet called How Can I Help My Children. I read through the stories. First off it really helped knowing I wasn’t the only one. And then it gave me the language to use when she had questions. I modified it of course but the idea – that Dad was sick – helped me to find the right things to say. I remember once when she was a teenager and her dad was in his disease and she was really worried about him, I told her to just let daddy sit in his pile of s—t. Don’t climb in there with him. If he’s in there alone, he’ll eventually get sick of it and come out. She was shocked at my language but really got it. After that she mostly learned to let him be when he’s not at his best and just focus on herself.”
Many members are often recovering from terrible losses and devastating crises. Al-Anon has developed several pieces of literature to address these issues.
- A member shares, "Transforming Our Losses gave me insight into the effects of grieving and how it affected my life and then ultimately, my recovery. I had no idea till I read this book that we as Al-Anonics can even experience grief when good things happened to us! Wow!”
- A member shares, “I recommend In All Our Affairs... Making Crises Work for You because it has helped me to leave the isolation that I have carefully engineered in my need to protect my family and hide my personal shame over many years. In All Our Affairs is a collection of anonymous stories from Al-Anon fellows. Parts One, Two and Three are organized under the three A's (Awareness, Acceptance, Action). We readers are given a structure on which we can process our experience, courage, and hope as we work the Steps toward our recovery. Part Four focuses on Moving On. For example, ‘Today, thanks to Al-Anon, I am okay. I don't need to solve all my problems at one time. I just need to 'Let Go and Let God' and enjoy this moment. It's all I've got.’ The book ends by talking about recovery. For example, ‘...knowing that I am a valuable, precious human being, knowing that I can say ' no', knowing that I can set boundaries no one can cross unless I invite them. I have my own personal power which is what I retain after understanding Step One and my powerlessness over others.’"
Having worked the steps, traditions and concepts and received the blessings of recovery, some members want to know more about how these valuable principles and tools were developed. Some of the literature looks back on Al-Anon’s history and how the program grew:
- A member shares, "Many Voices, One Journey reflects a cross-section of the history of Al-Anon. That history is enriched with the voices of our members beginning in 1925 with Lois telling some of her story. 400 pages later I get to read about WSO making its final mortgage payment in 2010! Everything in between is a fascinating look at how our principles were put into effect as our program grew. Decades of my Al-Anon family members with many voices sharing our one journey--recovery.”