Tuesday, February 10, 2009
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.