Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Best Asset

I love speaker meetings and birthday meetings.

It's nice to have a break. To just listen and not have to form coherent thoughts on a difficult topic. But more than that, I love these meetings because I get to hear the big picture.

Topic meetings help me learn solutions about particular problems. I hear little bits and pieces of a person's story. I may have heard them share dozens of times before, but the context is missing. But speaker meetings and birthday meetings are where I forge deeper connections to people, because I hear their stories whole.

More often than not I hear my own story, or pieces of it, and understand, really understand, that I'm not alone.

The other day, I was listening to Joe, who was celebrating his 12th birthday. I had been sitting in meetings with Joe for a couple of years. But in this meeting, he talked a lot about his childhood. I had no idea all he had overcome.

After the meeting, I told him that his path inspired me. That he had come from where he was to where he is now seemed one of those miracles you hear about in Al-Anon.

He answered that what he loved about this program was that this was the only place he knew where his past could be turned into an asset.

I knew just what he meant. In Al-Anon, I know that all of the difficult things I've experienced, all the mistakes I've made, the embarrassing and awful things I've done are not for nothing.

I can share them freely. Because when I do, someone in the room might benefit from what I've gone through. They might have done something similar and know they are not alone. They might somehow learn from my experience. They might be inspired.

It reminds me of that fairy tale of the girl who could turn straw into gold. When I came to Al-Anon, I had no idea that I would come to embrace my past and share it freely. That it would, in fact, be my best asset and the greatest gift I can offer.


  1. I remember the first couple of times I heard pieces of my story from others--kind of a Twilight Zone type thing. I don't think anything is better than hearing people's stories, how it was and how things have changed in their lives. Thanks.

  2. For me, being in a meeting keeps me humble and clear that my story is not unique and there are so many people like me who are working just as hard as I am to be healthy. I may not have something to relate to each and every share, but darn near every one.

  3. At the meetings I attend, we call those "anniversaries" rather than "birthdays". We don't necessarily speak on an anniversary, other than to share that we are having one and how many months or years it is.

    In my friday night meeting, someone shares a reading and talks about it for ten to twenty minutes at every meeting. Once a month, instead of reading something, someone shares a "life story" I love those, the most. It is just as you said, I get the whole picture, the pain and the growth, the problems and the solutions....

    I'm curious, when you go to "speaker meetings", is there still sharing at the end? I've never gone to a meeting where there was not time for everyone to share.

  4. In Alanon, I learned to not fear my past or try to hide in in shame anymore. What a freeing moment that was. I held myself hostage for so many years because of shame, guilt and fear. The miracles happen when I work the program. I'm living proof! Good post.


  5. I like that you have embraced it. Very good.. me too. I share my story to help others in a humble way at times.

    It makes others feel they are not alone; that bad childhood are very common.. and we can be happy as an Adult. We are no longer victims... not survivors either.. but thriving now. :)