Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Seventh Tradition

Steve and I decided to get back to writing on the traditions this week. Check out his blog for the AA perspective and I'm doing the Al-Anon take on the traditions here.

Tradition Seven: Every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
The primary principle here is inner strength. With this tradition, the group and I am self-sufficient, responsible, and have self-respect.

I've written about this tradition before. So some of what's written here is a bit repetitive of that post.

This tradition is important for our meetings--that we are self-supporting and can keep the fellowship going. It's also important in my personal life. I am financially self-supporting. I can remember when my wife was drinking that I knew that I would be able to move out, if that was the route to sanity, because I had a good job.

Being fully self-supporting is more than money though. It means that I take care of myself. It is not taking care of another nor expecting others to take care of me. Assuming responsibilities for others robs them of their dignity and self-respect. To depend on another to fulfill my needs or carry out my responsibilities invites disappointment and resentment.

I have conceded that the troubles that I've had in relationships are of my own making. If I didn't accept that, then I would be saying that the things that happened to me were caused by other people or things. And the corollary to that fallacy would be that I would have to get the people or things to change if I were to get better. I know though that I'm powerless over others. So I don't put myself in the victim and self-pity mode much anymore. That way of thinking brings with it depression and a grinding, oppressive sense of defeat.

Being emotionally self-supporting was not the easiest thing to grasp. After years of relying on outside opinions to feel good about myself, it was hard to believe in myself. I would think that if only my wife would stop drinking and be happy, I would be okay. If only my father weren't so critical, then I would be okay. If only...if only....

What I was unable to see was that I expected others to do what I wanted because I didn't know how to get what I needed within myself. I went to therapy and didn't really talk about myself but would talk about the other person. I kept the focus off myself for the most part. I guess that I didn't have much "self" at that time.

Al-Anon has helped me see how deficient I was in being emotionally self supporting. I realize now that my life doesn't depend on anyone's approval. I need for my life to depend on my own emotional support, and God's help. Sure, there are slips. But all in all, I'm realizing that I have the right to be happy and responsible for my own emotional welfare.

Tradition Seven gratitude:
1. That I'm employed and that my SO is also working.
2. That the groups that I go to, even my home group which is really small, can be self-supporting.
3. That I don't have to rely upon anyone else to make me feel that I'm a great person.
4. That I have a HP and it isn't any human.
5. That I can listen to the opinions of others and still have a choice to make up my own mind.


  1. hang on AA, Al-anon... I'm missing something aren't I: what's the difference?

    hang on: is Al-Anon the one where you're not allowed to turn up drunk but AA will take any sozzled newcomer?????

    I mean: this is a big thing for me: I've turned up to many an NA meeting only to "catch up with lost sleep" almost immediately.

    Of course the fact I'd also used heroin totally escaped my attention (as did the vaster part of the meeting!!)

  2. Thanks for writing about the traditions.

  3. This was a wonderful experience with the Seventh Tradition. Thanks very much for the perspective, I needed it today.

  4. "Assuming responsibilities for others robs them of their dignity and self-respect."

    I love this sentence. I wish my older son almost 25 would take any job even one that is not in the computer field. When he leaned on me and now his dad it is robbing him .. I'm glad I stopped being an enabler.. but than his dad stepped up .. thought the dad would motivate him.. but now it is 6 months there and still he is unemployed and hardly looking.

    I would take a job paying 5.00 an hour before I did nothing. I did find some freelance work and he turned it down... one was for two months and 17.50 and just part time. I wind up doing it for November / December and made the 800/900.

    I asked again last night when he came over. I have some work that is a 100 a month and he said NO.

    I decided to give up on it altogether.. it is his life....... he can visit once a week......but glad he moved out in August when I requested he did.

    Thanks for your post and that line especially. It is the truth.

  5. Syd, you do such good writing--I wish that what I write would make as much sense to me, as what you blog.

    But I'm not going to quit. I'm one of those guys who still believe in committment.

  6. this practically screamed at me....

    "What I was unable to see was that I expected others to do what I wanted because I didn't know how to get what I needed within myself."

    great post dear syd! you always have a nugget of wisdom that feels like it's been written especially for me. thanks for that!

  7. I am really liking the tradition series you and Steve are doing.

  8. Thank you for this Syd. Tradition Seven is THE tradition that tells me I can put the traditions in to practice in my life. I need to be self supporting. I have never claimed any kind of benefit and if I am truthful the people I see in AA meetings who are always claiming benefit, do not seem to be unfit for work. But they do seem to have a quality of life I would not want for me or my family.

  9. One more time - Thanks Syd. I like the one about emotional self- support.

  10. I can share from my experience that taking my hands off another and concentrating on my own stuff allowed God to help us both. Wow...


  11. you are so great with these Traditions. I love the sentence "To depend on another to fulfill my needs or carry out my responsibilities invites disappointment and resentments. Great job with this one. I know a lot of members in the program that just don't seem to be able to get past the idea that being self supporting has anything to do with anything other than money. Oh, and I didn't say I don't like boats, I just wasn't allowed to go back on the boat and subsequently moved away. I love boats and the ocean, unfortunately that was my last time on a boat. So maybe someday....

  12. I've been so busy, I'm glad you took a break from writing about traditions, so I did not miss so much!


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