Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Here is Tradition Four in Al-Anon:
Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting another group or Al-Anon or AA as a whole.
The principle of this tradition is self-government with accountability. The traits that characterize the spirit of this tradition are self-focus (not self-centered) and courtesy.
In the book Paths to Recovery (page 166), this tradition is clarified by a question: "Does this mean that in Al-Anon anything goes as long as the group agrees to it? " Nope. Decisions in Al-Anon need to be made as a group and for the good of the group as a whole. That's why there are group conscious meetings. And why it's important to stay for them.
I like how this tradition applies in personal relationships. There's a lot that it has to offer for families and couples. It requires that I become unselfish and consider how decisions affect "us" rather than how it just affects me.
Yet, I think that the fourth tradition gives relationships freedom. Each person in the relationship is free to choose what they want to do, yet there is also a responsibility to preserve the unity of the relationship as a whole. I can be autonomous without endangering the relationship. Too much autonomy without restraint could cause a lot of damage.
Autonomy doesn’t mean you don’t need the other person. It means that I can be who I am and not try to mold myself to be what others want me to be. I can still have my goals, desires, and dreams while intertwining them with the goals, desires, and dreams of another. I like the idea of two people being autonomous but working together as a union. Co-dependency isn't healthy and can be terribly restricting. Yet, I've surely been co-dependent most of my life.
Tradition 4 is also about my taking responsibility for my choices. I need to consider the consequences of my actions. The slogan that seems to come to mind is "THINK" and examine my actions before I undertake them. Thinking before acting has been hard for me because I am impetuous. I think but also will plunge ahead with a "damn the torpedoes" type attitude. So I obviously need to remember that I'm not powerless over my brain and can use restraint. That's where maturity comes in.
It seems that when I don't take responsibility, I can blame someone else when things don't go right. I blamed the alcoholic for my self-pity, anger, and misery. I didn't look hard at my actions and what I was doing until I came to Al-Anon.
There's a lot of good stuff to think about with this tradition. Check out Steve's blog Another Sober Alcoholic because he is writing about the traditions of AA and today he is on Numbah Foah. I'm glad that we are doing these at the same time. I don't have his captivating stories but offer what I've come to understand about how these traditions work in meetings and in my life.