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...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Comparing the Good and the Bad

My sponsor keeps reminding me to not compare myself to others, that God and I are the only ones who need to approve of me. So what happens when I don't think God or I approve of me? I can do something to change that, if only my attitude. Some days it is all I can do to just say that I'm okay just the way I am, just for today. I have to dismiss the voices around me that say you are what you do or accomplish, or something is wrong with you if you tend to keep to yourself...

But something else came to mind this week about comparison, and that is what I put up with in others because I compare them to those who are worse, saying it could be worse. This especially happens with my spouse because he is such a good guy. Even when he was still drinking, I didn't have much to complain about because he worked, he was responsible around the house, he didn't beat me or the children, he brought me flowers and candy...

And yet something was terribly wrong and I usually thought it was me, it had to be me. Now that he's sober, it definitely has to be me because he's practically perfect, right? Wrong. He's just the same good guy he was before, only sober. But if he's such a good guy, why does my gut keep telling me that something is still wrong? The answer came last night when I asked for a change in behavior and got yelled at.

Nobody sees this behavior but me, and it's really okay because after all, he is such a good guy, he could be so much worse... It's like I'm supposed to put up with it, tolerate it, thinking that my spouse is a saint compared to the horror stories I've heard in meetings. In other words, I don't even deserve the good guy I have when I'm not the greatest gal. This is how my comparing the good as well as the bad gets me into trouble.

If I had listened to all those voices telling me he isn't so bad, so what if he drinks and drives, I would have never found Al-Anon and gotten the help I needed. And he may never have gotten sober because I may have continued to accept unacceptable behavior. In reality, I am doing him a disservice by letting him think it is okay to yell at me. Today I will remember to listen to my gut and change what I can, even when it is the hard thing to do like speaking up for myself.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Service Work: When Is Enough Enough?

Taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is the key to recovery in Al-Anon. We first do this by coming to meetings, then by working the 12 Steps of Al-Anon. We learn further by using the 12 Traditions of Al-Anon in our group meetings and in our family, friend, and work relationships. Many of us then move on to Area World Service which is our way of practicing the 12 Concepts of Service. (An Area is usually a state, although a few heavily populated states have split into two Areas.)

There are many other forms of service work, though, such as chairing meetings, serving as your group treasurer or secretary, volunteering to help with Al-Anon events, and most importantly, in my opinion, sponsoring others who want help in working the Steps, Traditions, and/or Concepts. Whatever we do to recover from living with the disease of alcoholism in a family or friend is our choice. We don't all follow the same path. For example, we can not all serve as a delegate to the World Service Conference.

And neither should we strive for this as it is simply one calling. I personally have put a lot of time into holding "formal" Al-Anon service positions, and I am being encouraged to continue. However, I am seriously considering taking a much more relaxed approach to this part of my recovery by concentrating more on sponsoring others and maybe facilitating another step study, which I really enjoyed. I also have other parts of my life outside of Al-Anon that need some attention.

The key is to talk to my regular Sponsor and my Service Sponsor but mostly to connect to my Greater Power, asking for his/her will for me and the power to carry that out. I am willing to be willing to do whatever is asked of me, even though I believe if I no longer have the desire to do something, then it probably isn't the best thing for me to do. If I'm wanting to write more and spend more time with my grandchildren, then I need more time to do that. And as my Sponsor tells me, God and I are the only ones who need to approve of me.

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