Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fully self supporting

The Seventh Tradition says that we are self-supporting through our own contributions.  I understand the financial aspect of that as it relates to meetings and every day life.  But there are some other aspects of being self-supporting that are worth considering.

Being fully self-supporting 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....

I have wasted a lot of years taking care of others' business, especially that of the alcoholic in my life.  I gave and gave, martyring myself, and then building a resentment when what I had done wasn't appreciated or acknowledged. 

No one ever did anything to me that I didn't let happen.  And I've had to come to terms with the fact that the things I let the people I love the most do to me were those things that I would never have tolerated in a colleague or casual acquaintance.  So one of my solutions is to be wary of those who are toxic for me.  Not every one can be a true friend.  But I can't run everyone off because my spirit is one that has a desire to be with others.  

I've often thought that it would be nice to not need others and to truly be fully self-supporting.  But in the long run, the words "No man is an island" comes to mind. I know that I do need others in my life and that isolation for me isn't a healthy thing.  It is okay to let the drawbridge down and allow others to enter my domain.  I can just be a bit choosy about who I let in.  What I have to remember is that the support that I receive that is the most dependable is from my Higher Power and those within the Al-Anon fellowship. 

Another aspect of being fully self-supporting is that I don't have to be all things to all people. I can still be a good soul today without having to be a husband, friend, counselor, therapist, problem solver for anyone else.  And I don't have to expect those things from others.  I can let go of any expectations that I have and simply take what I like and leave the rest. 

So in the long run,  I am fully self-supporting with a few caveats:  1) I need others in my life but can not impose my expectations on them; 2) I need a Higher Power in my life because it is my soul and spirit that support me; and 3) I am part of a whole--I don't need to be everything without asking for anything.  I can ask for what I need and in doing so, I become apart of and not separated from. 

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.


  1. marvelous post today syd...it speaks to me in areas where i continue to struggle...all things to all and mucking around in others junk...thanks.

  2. beautifullly put, and something we all need to hear. Thank you Syd.

  3. Thank you for the "mini meeting" this post was. I met with a girlfriend last night, and we were dealing with everything you talked about. I am so glad I read this this morning, you helped me have a much greater perspective in these areas of struggle....

  4. approval-seeking is one of my greatest shortcomings. It helps to understand it within the context of the seventh tradition.

  5. Hi Syd!

    I, too, am a 'people' person - - - I love people, interacting with and for them - and this of course with the limitation of Al-Anon's precept of 'keep the focus on myself.' By maintaining a self-focus I provide myself a safe haven where my Higher Power has the control over my life and reaction to it. Of course, there are slips - and I am quickly able to inventory the situation into a solution for myself - sometimes by simply remembering to 'move aside and let God work; i.e., let go and let God.' There was a time when I resented this slogan very deeply, not wanting to hear any sort of preaching or religiosity! My own selfishness in wanting to be myself got in the way of His guidance, until I finally gave up, and allowed Him to take over my path, since He was more stubborn and knew much better than I how to run my life. Whew - - - that took some time and lots of service work to get out of the 'I can do it myself, thank you' mode! It's a joy today to be able to share with others and walk side by side with the people I care about.

    Keep coming back! It works if and when you work it!

    Love and hugs,
    Anonymous #1

  6. Yes, the wasted years of doing it the wrong way! Now I understand that I teach people how to treat me and I have to be very careful with what's taught. "To thine own self be true" really says it all for me.
    PS: your blog about retirement brought back many memories. I found that I had to take a year to get used to it (along with the work ethic guilt thing) and then i had to incorporate meaningful things in to my daily existence. It made all the difference since I could then really relax on certain days and yet look forward to the committments that I'd made.

  7. Yep. That's a good one. There's a lot to think about there.

  8. That photo looks strangely familiar. Laugh.

  9. What a wonderful post. I attended a meeting recently in which this was the topic. I think you summed up, very eloquently, the sum of the wisdom I took from that meeting. I haven't thought of the seventh tradition in the same way since.

  10. Amen to everything you said. Well put.

  11. A lesson that I eventually learnt. Doing 4th step work, showed me how my own actions had led to the troubles in my life. Wanting to be liked was sometimes much more important than doing what was right for me.


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