Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I decided to write some more about the traditions. My first post was on Tradition One, so today's post is about Tradition Two: For our group purpose there is but one authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
For me, the main principle of Trad. Two is humility. This tradition tells me that I give guidance (not advice), that I trust, be accountable and courteous. Just as I need to be heard, so do others. Guidance comes through sharing, listening, and pointing out choices. We are but trusted servants guided by a loving Higher Power, not dictators.
I like the idea that God is the boss. He is the one authority. I am working hard at subjugating my ego and allowing Him to guide me.
In my relationships, I can practice this tradition by not taking over responsibilities without consulting my partner. I don't dominate others. I've found that my wife will expect me to lead and there is a tendency when that happens for me to begin to feel indispensable and self-important. It's easy then to step over the line to manage things for her which leads to control.
My wife tends to be unsure sometimes and is happy to let me be responsible. And being the adult child of an alcoholic, I'm only too happy to slip into that familiar coat of assuming responsibility. But if I take over responsibility from another, then they are absolved of any kind of failure. Essentially, they get to skate free.
What this tradition means in my relationshiop is that both partners must actively participate in order for there to be love and growth. We must remember that active participation by both members in the relationship is vital to its growth. No partner can assume the position of speaking for the other without first having consulted him or her. This is simple courtesy.
I've always been amazed at how much courtesy we have for strangers. Yet when we are dealing with the most precious persons in our lives, we sometimes leave simple kindness out of our manner.
For me, the hardest part of this tradition is maintaining autonomy in a personal relationship. I have to work at keeping the focus on myself. I like the idea of people working together in unity but also maintaining their own interests. Coming from an alcoholic marriage, I could often want too much "togetherness" and that is confining and unhealthy. Autonomy doesn’t mean you don’t need the other person, but it means that I don't give up who I am to be in the relationship. I can maintain my goals, desires, and dreams but also respect and support the goals, desires, and dreams of another and allow them to be who they are, not who I want them to be. I think that this makes a healthy relationship.
To make this tradition applicable to Al-Anon meetings, it's important that each group not be a carbon copy of the other. I like individuality with the groups. In some birthdays are celebrated, in others there are speaker meetings. What I think makes Al-Anon special is the way that we can each express our thoughts without fear of criticism, interruption or gossip. We can in short be ourselves within Al-Anon.