The Secret Weapon

I heard an uplifting story on the radio this morning. The DJ was talking about today being the last day of 2020 and asked what one word would describe this year to his listeners? He shared how his daughter used chicken wire and lights to create a sign in their front yard that greeted him each evening when he arrived at home. The one word on the sign? HOPE. That was his word to describe the year…probably not the word many people would think of, let alone choose to represent their feelings for 2020, and definitely not mine – at least at first.

Though 2020 has been lousy on many levels, it is not the worst time of my life…that was the year my husband died from alcoholism and the year that followed. Our children were still relatively young – old enough to understand that their Dad died from his drinking, but too young to understand the ins and outs of addiction or recovery, nor how to develop their own recovery and serenity. Our children subsequently suffered, each in their own way, as they dealt with this unimaginable loss in their young lives. It’s been many years now and fortunately, none have developed an addiction. While most eventually began their own diligent work of emotional discovery and recovery, one remains trapped in their pain – and I am often on the receiving end of that emotional dis-ease.

I went to my first Al-Anon meeting 28+ years ago to stop my late husband’s drinking, but I stayed long after he died for myself, because the program changes me in profoundly positive ways. It shows me that I can choose to start my day over at any moment, and teaches me to look at my own thoughts and resentments, words and reactions and how they contribute to the struggles in my life. Al-Anon helps me to grow in acceptance that I cannot change other people, gives me tools to handle challenges and problems with peace, dignity and confidence…but if I had to summarize what I have been given through the work of recovery in Al-Anon, one word would suffice: HOPE. Hope that all will be okay.

I read a page in two Al-Anon books every morning to remind me that I have choices in how I approach my day; they are Courage to Change and Hope for Today. There was no surprise that the message on the December 31st page in Hope for Today included, “Years later I realized I was listening to Al-Anon’s words of hope – hope I could claim as my own, if I was willing to work the Steps. When I felt boxed in by despair, you assured me that no situation is really hopeless and I could find contentment, and even happiness…” no matter what life brought me, especially the effects of dis-ease as expressed by my beloved, but not always liked, hurting adult child.

It’s hard to fully explain how I can be at peace in the midst of storms, even as my heart breaks for my often-miserable child. I take care of myself each day – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, socially and physically. I try to apply the Al-anon program to all aspects of my life. I practice and lean on my faith in God in the small and big things of life. In other words, I live each day in the security of HOPE. I wish that same strength and joy to every other person on earth.

One last thing: The motto of that radio station throughout the pandemic – “MAKING HOPE LOUDER!” That is the Secret Weapon.

Contributed by an anonymous Howard County Resident.

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