Thursday, February 11, 2010


Keeping the focus on me is a recurrent theme of the Al-Anon program.  Before I could keep the focus on me and not others in my life, I had to first understand who I was.

I think that working through the steps helped me to understand myself in ways that I never did before.  I came to know my character assets and my defects.  I learned what I valued in life rather what others told me to value. I learned what is acceptable and what isn't. I began to understand boundaries.  The Al-Anon program gives me tools to decide what my goals and values are, without someone else defining them for me. The Al-Anon program gives me the tools to help me make choices that are good for me, and teaches me how to stand by my decisions. This is all about developing integrity.

Integrity may be defined in several ways: It can mean:
1.  adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2.  the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.
3.  a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition

I am far from having these attributes in my life.  Every day I am reminded of my shortcomings in the areas of being undiminished, having a perfect condition, and adhering to moral and ethical principles.  But every day I also ask to do God's will.  And I ask that the character defects which keep me from a perfect condition and from being whole be removed.  God provides the moral compass by which I steer.

I know that integrity is essential in my commitment to this program of recovery.  I knew from many years of living with alcoholism that the alcoholics in my life were totally committed to their addiction.  That was the paradox of alcoholism.  They would resort to any means possible to drink and get away with it. They lived by "lie, deny and supply".  But I as the co-dependent also did not waver for years in my commitment to enable my wife.  I had a lot of integrity in that behavior towards others but very little in myself.  

Now, in recovery I have to apply the same fervor of integrity that I once had for the alcoholic. I need to honor myself and the promises that this program has for me.  I have to take my own inventory and realize that lies told to myself to rationalize and justify my shortcomings will not make me whole but keep me sick. 

I see this not only in myself but in sponsees who will resist going to meetings, taking on service work because "there isn't enough time to fit these into my schedule".  If I am honest with myself about the priorities in my life, then I will see that I can take time for my recovery because without it, other aspects of my life will truly suffer. The degree of integrity with myself can enhance my recovery in many ways.  

The following is a writing on integrity that Sula Lee at In-Laws with Money shared with me. I have had to read it many times to absorb all that it says. I thought that you might enjoy it.

The person of superior integrity does not insist upon his integrity;
For this reason, he has integrity.
The person of inferior integrity never loses sight of his integrity;
For this reason, he lacks integrity.

The person of superior integrity takes no action,
nor has he a purpose for acting.
The person of superior humanness takes action,
but has no purpose for acting.

The person of superior righteousness takes action,
and has a purpose for acting.
The person of superior etiquette takes action,
but others do not respond to him;
Whereupon he rolls up his sleeves
and coerces them.

When the Way is lost,
afterward comes integrity.
When integrity is lost,
afterward comes humanness
When humanness is lost,
afterward comes righteousness.
When righteousness is lost,
afterward comes etiquette.

Etiquette is the attenuation of trustworthiness,
and the source of disorder.
Foreknowledge is but the blossomy ornament of the Way,
and the source of ignorance.
For this reason,
The great man resides in substance,
not in attenuation.
He resides in fruitful reality,
not in blossomy ornament.

He rejects the one and adopts the other.

-Tao Te Ching 1 (38)


  1. Hi Syd,
    I just wanted to say "thank you" for taking the time to catch up on my blog and leave so many comments. :-)

  2. You are amazing Syd. Thanks for you.

  3. Boundaries is a big one for me. The first few times hubby talked to me about his boundaries I became angry and hurt. It was as though I had not even heard that word before he said it and I definitely did not like it. After I began work on my own recovery, I came to understand and appreciate boundaries for what it really means.

  4. Syd? That poem makes my head hurt. I'd be curious what lesson you take from it.

  5. I'd like to see a required class taught in schools called "Intro to Integrity".

    I know it can't be taught, but how many kids never even hear that word anymore?

  6. Pretty deep stuff today. My mind will need time to wrap itself around it all.

    Sula Lee's writing reminds me of the idea that a person who is feeling very humble and thinks they are humble, may not be so.


  7. Your post today is the very reason I am getting off my arse and getting to my meeting tonite. I don't want to, I don't feel like it and honestly, I would rather mope. But.....I won't. I don't have to like it...I just have to show up!

    namaste (feeling a tad bit better now)

  8. I think that the Tao speaks of wise innocence here. He is not ignorant–he can devise fairly elaborate rescue methods–but he is so much involved in each moment, so fully present to the world right before him, that it all seems brand new, and he brings his own true inner nature to bear on each situation.
    Here is an interpretation that goes into more depth:

  9. I think so few people have integrity anymore.

  10. A simple quote that really resonated with me...

    "Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking."

    I have to keep it simple. I read that a few times, and I'm still confused :o( Maybe I'm just tired tonight. Great topic and post!

  11. Great post! I'm new to your blog. I just started one of my own (it's only 1 post old) and I'm really inspired. I'm ashamed to say I haven't ever attended an al-anon mtg, but many many aa mtg's. It's my goal this year to focus on my recover! Thanks for the boost!

  12. :) Hey - I missed this one somehow! That is one of my favorite verses - I have read it hundreds of times - maybe even a thousand over the years - and I still get something new out of it every single time!


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