Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tradition One

"Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity."

When new to program, I listened to the Traditions, but it wasn't until after I'd been a member of Al-Anon for a few years, gained some understanding, and had achieved some serenity, that I was able to focus upon them at all. Prior to that, I'd been lost in a welter of self-pitying misery.

Also, the group I attended at the time seldom had the Traditions as meeting topics, a fact I didn't realise until I started going to a different group that did.

Through Al-Anon, I've learned that I can can let the dissimilarity between another person and myself be interesting and amusing evidence of the wild variety in God's creations, rather than a point of conflict. I've learned that if I keep an open mind, that contrast can offer me the chance to understand the way the world looks to them, which can change the way it looks to me.

I've learned that my opinions can be in total opposition on just about every subject raised with another person, and I will still feel a strong bond of commonality and unity with them, because of our shared experiences with alcoholism. I don't have to agree with anything said, thought, or believed, in order to be helpful in Al-Anon.

Tradition One reminds me to give my opinion when asked, but not to get caught up in power struggles, or efforts to sway or persuade anyone to adopt my way of thinking. In order for Al-Anon to be a safe place for us all, I need to put my ego into my pocket, and zip it closed, when I walk through the door to the meeting. I've learned to bite my tongue, to agree gracefully, to speak my piece and then stop talking.

It used to feel so important to have others agree with my point of view; it's interesting to see how that has changed for me over the years. I've learned that my opinions are of little import inside a meeting room; what I have to offer that is of any real use, is my experience, strength and hope, in Al-Anon.

The unity of Al-Anon is what makes it possible for me to attend a meeting where everyone is a stranger to me, and still feel welcomed, and at home. I work to preserve the unity of my home group, so that we can all feel at home, old-timers and newcomers alike. That matters. What I happen to think personally about this or that, doesn't matter.

I will always be grateful to the women at the first meeting I ever attended - there wasn't one there that didn't have about 40 years on me, but they made me welcome, and they made me comfortable, and through that, I've gained so much. They loved me when I could not love myself. I want to extend that same loving unity to people I meet in Al-Anon, it's a beautiful feeling.


  1. I really appreciate you sharing that. I've been in Al-anon for 10 yrs now and have never heard anyone explain Tradition 1 that way. I was looking for a blog to read tonight, never done this before, but typed in Al-anon and came across yours. Loved it. Thank You!

  2. Cheryl, thanks for writing about the Traditions. They really help not only in meetings but in our relationships with others as well.

  3. Many thanks for your sharing on Tradition 1. It really helps in maintaining good relationships with others at home and at workplace. I was looking for sharing on Tradition 1 as i have to share in workshop and this will greatly help me.