I was surprised to find that Al-Anon was useful for more than examining how alcohol has affected my life. Addiction runs in my family and when I started to see a pattern of alcoholism among my romantic relationships, I decided it was time to go to a meeting.
“Al‑Anon is a mutual support program for people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking.” al-anon.org
I only attended Al-Anon for a short time, but its concepts had a big impact on me. What I found interesting is that Al-Anon uses the same 12 steps as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The discussions were not focused on “what to do about the alcoholic,” but instead on “what choices do I make for myself.” While discussion of the person or people who brought you to Al-Anon does occur, it is not the primary focus. The focus is on personal development, namely to regain an awareness of your choices in a situation that feels out of control. Al-Anon’s contributions to my journey reached beyond the topic of alcohol and has played an important part in my daily experience of joy and inner peace.
I have chosen to review two books this week. The first book, Paths to Recovery: Al-Anon’s Steps, Traditions, and Concepts, is a great resource for anyone who has been affected by someone else’s addiction. It is a foundational text that outlines the twelve steps and twelve traditions that make up a program that has helped probably millions of people.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory . . .
This week’s focus is #MakeaChoice, and each of the twelve steps is exactly that — a choice. Step four stands out as one that really addresses the issue of grappling with our own choices in everyday life: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” To me, this is about taking an honest look at how our choices (actions and feelings) contribute to any given situation. It compels me to ask: “Am I happy with how I behaved?”
One time, in a relationship, my partner and I were driving to look at a house. We only had a short time before darkness fell and really wanted to see the house in the light. I was in a hurry and I needed help with navigation. In a very bossy tone, I demanded that my partner take my phone and tell me the directions. In my mind it was not bossy, it was simply frantic because my perceived need to get their quickly was so strong. However, he perceived it to be bossy and inconsiderate and he voiced this perspective. At the time, I could not understand why he was upset, because from my perspective it had nothing to do with him. Looking back I can see that my perceived need to hurry led me to behave in a way that was disrespectful.
I could have made several different choices in that scenario. I could have taken a deep breath and realized that feeling rushed would not get me there any faster. I could have taken one minute to pull over and get my bearings. I could have asked for help nicely. My feelings of anxiety on the inside were a normal part of life for me so I didn’t see that it could be any different, but that was the first time they had overtly affected my partner. I’m grateful that he reflected my internal state and I am now, with lots of practice, easily able to “make a searching and fearless inventory” of my choices on a daily basis.
Became willing to make amends . . .
The second book is Hope for Today. It is a companion book to Paths to Recovery that is also sometimes used in Al-Anon meetings. It has 365 different examples of how people apply the twelve steps and twelve traditions in their lives, one for each day. The entry for February 18th explores how choice plays into the eighth step: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” The passage explores the topic of when our choices and actions bring harm to ourselves. Sometimes the person we need to make amends to is ourself. Sometimes saying yes when we really want to say no is harmful to our well-being. Making the choice to be authentic is one of the best choices we can make for ourselves and for the people around us - even if it seems hard in the moment.
Please share, ask questions, leave comments, suggest topics, and tell stories! I want to hear about your moments of magic, miracles, and synchronicity.
Dare to be immortal.
@alanon_wso #recovery #addiction #makeachoice #12steps #4thstep #8thstep #makeamends #fearless #moralinventory #FindYourSong #grief #healing #dyingmatters #loss #deathpositive #death #dying #intuition #immortality #contentment #innerpeace #happiness #transform #lawofattraction #newdeath #musictherapy #blueheron