Friday, May 8, 2009


From the ODAT, page 129:

"Among the many gifts we are offered in Al-Anon is freedom. When we are new in Al-Anon, we are prisoners of our own confusion and despair. Working with the program offers us release as we learn to understand the true nature of our situation. The gifts of Al-Anon are not without a price tag: freedom, for example, can only be achieved by paying the price we call acceptance. If we can accept the First Step, we are set free from the need to control the alcoholic. If we can surrender to God's guidance, it will cost us our self-will, so precious to us who have always thought we could dominate. It is up to us to decide whether freedom from despair is worth all this. Most of us believe it is."

When I came into 12-step, I believed the exact opposite of that - I was of the opinion that freedom could only be achieved from a position of dominance. I had come out of my childhood with that belief, and carried it right into adulthood, so that I was always measuring, calculating, and maneuvering for position. I had a powerful need, of which I was unaware, to feel as if I was in control of all aspects of my life - the mere hint of someone else being in control made me crazy. I would get that awful panicked, trapped feeling I knew so well, and would then act out in some way, to relieve the claustrophobia.

I had a serious problem with authority. (Fortunately for me, I was also sufficiently frightened of consequences, so I merely seethed with resentment, and poisoned myself from the inside, rather than act upon my rather nasty fantasies of what I'd like to say to my supervisors. Instead, I'd go home and be mean to the alcoholic - that was safe, as he'd be so blotto he wouldn't remember it the next day. When, after quite some time in Al-Anon, I tried to make an amend to him for this behaviour, I had the disconcerting experience of having him find the entire process comical. I made the amend anyway - talking over his attempts to stifle his uncontrollable laughter - for my peace of mind.)

But I'm digressing. What the above reading means to me, is this: If I want, I must give.

If I want peace, I must give my program away to others. If I want growth, I must give up my belief in my own "rightness." If I want serenity, I must give up self-will, and be open to my Higher Power. If I want freedom, I must give up my need to control.

I had such a struggle with this concept, because it was my powerlessness in childhood that made the physical abuse possible. If I wanted freedom from my despair, I had to give up my certainty that there was only one way to define "powerless."

If I want real, lasting change, I must give up my safe misery. Did I consider this tradeoff worth it? I wasn't sure at the time I first began to try, but I had trust in my sponsor, and other members of Al-Anon, who promised me it was. I had faith in them, when I had no faith in the process, and wasn't even sure I believed in a Higher Power.

It worked. I was thrilled, amazed, and could dimly envision more of the same, if I continued to work my program. From my vantage point of today, years later, I feel such gratitude for those Al-Anon members, who "loved me in a very special way" when I could not love myself, or anyone else.

I'm grateful to think that I may be able to help others, the same way I was helped. God bless this wonderful program.

1 comment:

  1. This program has taught me a lot. I too am very grateful for it.