Al-Anon Lifer

Anonymous sharings from a long-time member of Al-Anon, which is a safe place to recover from the effects of alcoholism in a friend or relative...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Speaking Your Truth...

My spouse and I were invited to speak at a relationship workshop this last weekend. I thought it funny, as I posted before, that I was having so much trouble with relationships in my family and at work prior to this engagement. What I realized on Friday, though, was that I had stuck it out in my marital relationship for a very long time, even though my spouse did not find A.A. until recently. So I could speak to a fairly good relationship with a significant other.

Because my spouse always likes to be early to events and likes socializing, we arrived in the middle of the morning's session. The group was listening to a tape of a therapist. His message seemed to be about getting out of an unhealthy relationship in a healthy manner. He suggested practicing getting out by having three short relationships in a row before finding a significant relationship. My thought, immediately, was about the unsuspecting targets/subjects of this learning process. What about their feelings and needs?

And because this program workshop was using tons of outside literature, I realized why we had been asked to speak. Both of us tend to rely heavily on our program literature for the majority of our recovery process. I don't tote literature around but my spouse always has his Big Book with him, it seems. However, this day, I had decided to use Al-Anon literature for props for my talk. I even stopped on the way to buy a book at a group meeting because I had either misplaced it or given it to someone.

The three books I chose to represent the three stages of our marriage were: "The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage" (how our marriage was before I got into Al-Anon), "When I Got Busy I Got Better" (what happened in my life so I could become content whether the alcoholic was still drinking or not), and "Living With Sobriety" (how our marriage is now). I read a little from the first book to emphasize that in Al-Anon we don't give advice about leaving or staying. My story is that my HP told me to stay, and I'm glad that I did, even though at times I was very angry about having to stay.

What both my spouse and I emphasized in our separate stories was that the most important basis for a good relationship is to first have a relationship with God, then a relationship with oneself - to be Honest, Open, and Willing. That is HOW I learned to forgive and live with myself and others. Of course, I am still learning, but that is the journey - one now that looks much brighter since I have this new intimacy with my spouse because he shares the program with me. I used to be alone on this road, except for my HP, sponsors, and Al-Anon friends, so this feels much better, at least now that I'm getting used to it.

Anyway, we spoke our truth, even though we felt it was the unpopular opinion to stick it out for the long haul in a marriage. I guess we were old-fashioned or just plain stubborn, or maybe we just took our vows seriously rather than running away at the first sign of discomfort. Because I come from a long line of divorce (my great-grandparents got divorced in the 1910's!) I was pretty much determined to not get divorced, to show my parents that they were wrong about us. Of course, my marriage hasn't worked because I've worked it as much as God has protected and taken care of me and given me tools to be happy, joyous, and free no matter what.

So even though we saw glum faces rather than the normal smiles and nods as we spoke, we knew it was important to stand up for the AA and Al-Anon program as a way to recovery, not as a way to do what feels good at the time. It is a means to serve others, including those in your family who may not be receptive or reciprocal. It means doing God's will even if it isn't what you want. After all, doing what you want has often gotten you into trouble.

I'm finding more and more that when I ask God for his will for me, just for today, and then the power to carry that out, it happens. Even when I'm not in the mood. Like this weekend, when I wanted to run rather than carry the message. And then afterward I worried that I didn't say the right thing the right way, only to be reminded by my spouse that we needed to leave the results to God. We had done the footwork. If there was only one person who heard our message, who was thinking of leaving a relationship based on feelings rather than God's will, then we will have carried the message. And that is what it's all about...


At Monday, October 09, 2006 11:17:00 AM, Blogger Gwen said...

Awesome message. I was looking for some Al Anon in Barnes and Noble this weekend but found none. I ended up getting some codependent stuff.

And 101! Your Gram is 101! That is fantastic. John just showed me a pic of a woman in Princeton who turned 105. She didn't look a day over 85 ;) Amazing I tell you.

At Monday, October 09, 2006 11:27:00 AM, Blogger Al-Anon Lifer said...

FYI: Al-Anon literature can be found for sale at almost any Al-Anon meeting and there are Al-Anon service centers in most major cities. It is also for sale on Al-Anons website which is linked here. It is awesome, but I am a bit prejudiced :-)

At Tuesday, October 10, 2006 11:03:00 AM, Anonymous sober Chick said...

That is pretty awesome, you and your husband being true to yourselves. If anything, this experience has helped you and your husband to heal another piece of your realtionship.

At Tuesday, October 10, 2006 3:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

awesome glad you didn't run from this oppurtunity this weekend to share..
thanks for sharing here too!

At Wednesday, October 11, 2006 4:44:00 PM, Blogger Motorcycle Mike - Sober Biker said...

Glad you were able to share your experience strength and hope.

Keep it up.


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