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...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Question About Meetings

I received a question today about what to do if one can't get to meetings. There is such a thing as lone membership when there are no meetings available or someone can't get to meetings. You can find out about lone membership by emailing the World Service Office at There are also online meetings through the WSO, which are like chat rooms but follow the Traditions so are safe. I hope this helped answer the question. Blessings to all of you.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Month of 10th Steps

I thought I was working the 2nd Step this month, but it turns out I'm working the 10th Step, having had to make five as-soon-as-possible amends. I use the word "had" because if I did not, I would lose my serenity, which is the goal of my Al-Anon program.

With making my 10th Step amends, I have figured out the character defect I've been practicing that results in needing to do 10th Steps. It is dishonesty. But more important, why am I dishonest in the first place, especially when I have nothing to hide?

Both my sponsor and a sponsee asked me the same question: why do you feel the need to lie to make yourself look or feel better? The answer is that I'm still learning to love and approve of myself, my big lesson of last year. I guess this year I need to practice unconditional love for myself. Here is a quote from Hope for Today, Feb. 23rd, page 54, that contains the solution:

"No longer do I expect to be perfect, and I don't hide away in isolation for fear of having my imperfections discovered. Neither do I easily give away the precious, vulnerable parts of myself; I wait until I deem the other person trustworthy enough to receive me with love."

In other words, I am not ashamed of my humanity. But at the same time, I am careful whom I share my faults and errors with, through Step 5, Step 9, and Step 10. And I am careful not to harm myself as well as someone else when I make my amends, as it states in Step 9. I check in with my Greater Power and sometimes my sponsor, depending on the gravity of the situation.

The important thing I've learned is that I love myself enough to make amends because when I do, and when I give the results to God, I am given the priceless gift of serenity. I don't just feel this myself. Others can see it, or so I was told at an Al-Anon business meeting this last weekend. What a nice compliment to my program and my sponsor's relentless reminding that my goal is indeed serenity.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Why Do A 10th Step?

So why is it so important to do a 10th step? (Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.) Can't we let some things just slide by? After all, we aren't expected to be perfect in our recovery from living with the disease of alcoholism. However, as my sponsor tells me, my goal is serenity and if I don't keep my side of the street clean, I lose my serenity. I realized yesterday that something was amiss. I was suddenly gossiping about a person in the program to several people - the very person I had harmed, and then I started telling someone else a bunch of the "bad" things my spouse had done long ago, things he had made amends for and I had supposedly forgiven him for.

I reflected on this behavior this morning and realized that because I already knew I had to do a 10th step, but hadn't yet, I was into resenting the person I had harmed, and I was remembering other resentments supposedly long gone. In other words, I was blaming others for my behavior that I had yet to make amends for. It was amazing how quickly this was happening, and how quickly I was losing not just my serenity, but my sanity. For example, my dog was sick last night and I began to panic - I was suddenly angry with my daughter because I couldn't find my towel-rags (even though I had moved them myself) and I resented the vet who had cleaned my dog's teeth the day before. Plus I was projecting having to go to the ER vet on a Sat. night and ending up with a $1000 bill, neither of which happened.

So now that I know how quickly I started to react rather than respond to a situation because I need to make a 10th Step, it is essential that I talk with my sponsor about the best way to make my amends. There is not a simple solution this time - the person I harmed is not someone I live with or whom I can just call, plus I need to know how much information is necessary in making my amends. In the meantime, I can admit my faults to my Greater Power right here and now and start anew. I can be serene knowing that I've written it down and am willing to make my amends. I don't have to wait until I make those amends to regain my sanity. I don't have to remain resentful and angry at others, and especially I don't have to be angry with myself.

If I've learned anything recently, it is that I need to forgive myself first and love myself unconditionally - I need to Let It Begin With Me before I can forgive others and love them unconditionally. So I'm 10th Stepping myself right now and will ASAP 10th Step the other person I have harmed, and if necessary the people I gossiped to - if I don't stop this thing right here and now it will get bigger and bigger and I will fall into depression and self-pity. Since I was just there a few months ago, I don't want to go there again. I am so grateful that the Al-Anon program gives me the tools to not just get well but to stay well, and the 10th Step is one of the best tools I have.

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