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The Forum

“A Meeting in your pocket”

The Forum is the international monthly magazine in which Al-Anon and Alateen members share their experience, strength and hope, as well as practical information on how to practice the Al-Anon program and how to carry its message to others. It is “The Voice of the Fellowship,” a forum where individual members and groups can be heard.

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Examples of articles found in the Forum

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

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

By Harold J., Maryland

I understand that the focus of Step Twelve is to carry the message and apply the Al-Anon principles in all my affairs. The focus is not on having a spiritual awakening, which takes place well before the Twelfth Step. Step Twelve assumes that we already had a spiritual awakening. It begins with the words: "having had a spiritual awakening..."

Al-Anon's cofounder, Lois W., had a spiritual awakening when she famously threw a shoe at her husband. She carried the message later.

I had a spiritual awakening as a result of Step One, when I first heard someone say at a meeting that I didn't cause the drinking, couldn't control it, and couldn't cure it. I began to accept that I was powerless over alcohol, and felt some relief from the anguish that was making me miserable. That realization was the spiritual experience that brought me back to my next meeting, and eventually led to additional spiritual awakenings.

I came into Al-Anon with the belief that I had to carry my own weight. That meant that I made an effort to share at every meeting, whether I wanted to or not. I didn't think it would be right just to sit back and let others carry the burden of keeping the meeting going. It wasn't the other members' job to give me a meeting; I thought that everyone, including me, was equally responsible to participate.

As a newcomer, I didn't think that I was ready to "carry the message," as Step Twelve says. But every time I shared at a meeting, that's what I was doing. It was only a matter of weeks before there were newcomers even more inexperienced in Al-Anon than I was. When I shared at the meeting, I was able to recognize how much I had grown even in a short while, and the "new" newcomers were able to benefit from hearing about the Al-Anon program from the perspective of someone who's perspective was close to theirs.

I didn't think that I was ready to "carry the message' as a Group Representative when I had been in Al-Anon only little more than a year. But I didn't take that position because I felt I had attained a level of recovery worth sharing. I did it because I was told that the group needed someone to go to the Area Assembly for the weekend, and my social life was a complete blank.

I discovered that serving as Group Representative was an opportunity for personal growth, through I didn't know that when I started. The key to my success was my detachment. I didn't have an axe to grind, or any agenda to force on everyone else. The positive feedback I got was very gratifying. As Step Twelve says, I was carrying the message, and learning spiritual lessons that I could "practice in all my affairs."

In my experience, spiritual awakening is not a precondition for Al-Anon service. The opposite is true: participation is a path to spiritual awakening.

Al-Anon service helped me to experience that it is in giving that we receive. It was only through participation that I was able to understand that spiritual lesson.