Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Inventorying myself

Thanks to all for your comments regarding getting out of the doldrums with regard to meetings and service work. This is a great group of people who step up to share their thoughts. I greatly appreciate what you have to say.

I shared last night at my home group meeting that I have begun to feel as if I am taking on more and more service work with Al-Anon. And the feeling that I get is similar to those pre-program years when I took on more and more things at work and at home, only to feel trapped and resentful that I had taken on too much.

I inventoried what was going on and find that I'm not wanting to take on anything else. In fact, I'm wanting to rotate out of service on chairing the Beginner's meeting that I've been doing for three months. I'll still go to my meetings and be the GR for my home group, but I am going to ask that someone else take over with the beginner's starting in January. On that night, I have 2 hours of Al-Anon and don't get home until nearly 10 PM. I just need a break and more flexibility with my time.

I've found that service work is a great thing. Maybe some of it at first was ego based. I've always been one to step up out of a feeling of responsibility, especially when no one else volunteers. But a lot of why I have done service work is to give back to the program what has been so freely given to me. And I appreciate that there were people at the meetings when I was new that took the time to share their experience, strength, and hope which was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. And I have gotten a lot from working with the newcomers who keep coming back.

So maybe it's time for me to step back, go to meetings, listen to the sharing of others, absorb and think about how the topic relates to my life and situation. Last night's home group meeting was a good example: the topic was on the Al-Anon "Bill of Rights". These were excerpted from the ODAT for January 13.
  • I have a right to free myself from any situation that interferes with my having a decent life and pleasant experiences.
  • I am entitled to life without fear, uncertainty and discomfort.
  • I have a right to help not only myself and my family, but the suffering alcoholic as well.
  • I have a right to stand firm against constant wavering, which can only hinder me from breaking out of my present thinking pattern.
And I would add the following ones to this:

1. I have the right to ask for what I want

2. I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can't meet.

3. I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.

4. I have the right to change my mind.

5. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.

6. I have the right to follow my own values and standards.

7. I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe or it violates my values.

8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.

9. I have the right not to be responsible for others' behavior, actions, feelings or problems

10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.

11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.

12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.

13. I have the right to feel scared and say 'I'm afraid."

14. I have the right to say 'I don't know'.

15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.

16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.

17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.

18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.

19. I have the right to be healthier than those around me.

20. I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.

21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.

22. I have the right to change and grow.

23. I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others

24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect

25. I have the right to be happy.

"God guide me to make the right decision and give me the fortitude to cling to it against all pressures and persuasions."


  1. what a great list of rights - and actually I agree - service for me is a bit taxing as time is not as free for me to comitt to anything for sure once a week - my noon meetings I can sometimes run late to - not more than 5 minutes - which keeps me from offering to help there...

    We have a right to be happy!

  2. Syd, Thanks for sharing this. I have felt like this many times and really couldn't put it into words. You've really helped me in understanding things floating around in this head of mine.

    It sounds like Inventorying yourself worked out well. It's so wonderful to watch you grow. It helps me to remember why we always need to go to meetings and work the program. Great job Syd.

  3. Syd. I have the right to be me. Sometimes that means taking a step back from things, so long as I don't step back too far and end up falling off the edge of a cliff. I,ve been thinking about my retreat and the last topic Freedom. I'm going to write about it now. Your list helps clarify areas of MY life. " Wear it like a loose jacket" is some of the best advice I have ever given myself about my sobriety and life. Feel good about yourself Syd. You seem like a decent man to me.

  4. Thanks for a great list. I agree with all of it. For years I did a ton of service work in AA. Then I worked with alcoholics and addicts as a job. The whole time taking care of a sick kid. I should have been working an Al Anon or Coda program I think. I'm burnt to a crisp because I didn't take good care of me. Thats what blogging is about, and just "being" right now. jeNN

  5. I love your list of rights. I may need to make a copy of it and save it.

  6. Syd, this is great! I so understand how you can feel like you've taken on too much at times. I tend to do that and now..in my retirement years, I don't want to be committed to anything much. Of course, I am not in a position to lead meetings or do much else of service, yet...since I've only been in Al-Anon a few months, but I soooo don't want to overload myself when the time comes. However, maybe by then I will have better balance in my life and thoughts! Bless you for doing what you have done in service to your group!
    Thanks for these words, which I will keep in mind! Lisa

  7. all I can say to this is AMEN, thanks again for sharing as you do, it helps me to read it. It's like a meeting in my computer.

  8. You are on a roll :-) I, too, am rotating out of a service position at our local Alano club. I am currently GR for one group and lit person for 2 groups. Service keeps me out of my own head so it is a BIG part of my program. But, like any good Alanon, I love to be "needed" so I have to check my motivation. Your list is amazing and I'm going to keep it handy. Thanks, Syd


  9. This is a great list of rights for sure. I think that it's amazing when we learnand grow and can see where we neneed to be involved and where we need to step back. This is the great gift of the 12 steps...thank you for your wonderful blog and list!

  10. I love your list today. I just get so confused sometimes as to what is my right and what isn't. After the "the breakup" I did everything I could to say busy to not feel. Now I've needed to reorganize this crazy plan I made to have more "to myself" time. In fact, last night I agreed to take on a new commitment in Al-Anon only if someone would split it with me. I'll open the meeting and set it up and she will close the meeting and put everything away. What a concept, huh?

  11. Fantastic list - thank you so much.

  12. your rights are out of this world. good to read. and to take to heart. thanks!

  13. first time visitor to your site. love the list! i received a tip to your link from my brother. thank God for brothers, and thank God for recovery.



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