Endigar 810

From Courage to Change of March 18;

Our Eighth Tradition suggest that our Twelfth Step work should remain forever nonprofessional. This means that as Al-Anon members, our own experience, strength and hope is all we need to help one another recover from the devastating impact of alcoholism. If our program were run by professionals, I would not have been free to carry the Al-Anon message to so many others.

This Tradition encourages me to help those who really want help. I’ve spent so much time and energy trying to help those who didn’t want it, that the opportunity to make a welcome contribution to someone else’s wellbeing is precious to me. Today, because of my experience with alcoholism, I am better able to understand and empathize with other people. I’m grateful that something positive has come from the more difficult times in my life.

I am learning to give and receive without guilt. I need not feel a debt to those members who have helped me, except to pass along to others what has served me so well. And as I give, I receive.

Today’s Reminder

I find that sharing my experience, strength, and hope with others, as an equal, is one of Al-Anon’s greatest gifts.

“The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” ~ Albert Schweizer

END OF QUOTE—————————————

I find myself stuck when I consider service to others in the programs of AA and Al-Anon. I am not stuck in an intellectual mire but in a pounding-heart paralysis that comes from being qualified to help. My degree is from the school of getting knocked down seven times and getting back up eight. I have lived out the consequences of a grandfather who died from alcoholism and a mother whose trust issues would never allow her to seek help in recovering from that trauma. Untreated alcohol corruption in her heart spread to all of her children. Then I triggered the dormant alcoholic disease within me after my own trauma from marital betrayal. I survived a relapse rodeo and rebuilt my life through the power of this program. So why am I not overflowing with enough gratitude to give back what has truly saved my life?

I fear being qualified to help will lock me into a pathological responsibility of martyrdom.

Here are some of the ideas in recovery that give me hope of being useful without suffering the futility of co-dependent crucifixion:

  1.  I am not the God of whoever I help. Their help will come from their Higher Power. Results belong to deity; work belongs to mortals.
  2.  This program is for those who both need and desire it. Those who need it but deny that reality gain no benefit in the outstretched hand of the Twelve Step program. They will suck the opportunity of my attention away from those who desire recovery and I am thus justified in developing filters to let go of those who have not embraced the powerlessness and unmanageability of their lives. The filters or boundaries I build protect my recovery and help me remain available to those who are ready to do whatever it takes to live again.
  3.  For someone caught in the consequences of addiction, a window of months or even days is a divine seed of hope. If I help someone let go of their pathology long enough to step out of the matrix and see the insanity of what has become normal for them, that is a gift. If they go back out or return to their co-dependent pathology they will not be able to unknow that flash of truth. The consequences they accrue coupled with that memory may bring them back to try again. My expectation should not be locked into helping someone gain a life of recovery with no setbacks. That is an egocentric fantasy common for those of us who struggle with co-dependence.
  4. The goal of helping others is to help myself. This is the positive selfishness of the 12 Step program and is not to be confused with the selfishness that isolates me from help. On page 62 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous it states, “Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness.” Notice that it does not say we must be rid of all selfishness, but of THIS selfishness. We must be rid of the kind of selfishness described in the preceding pages that involve domination, manipulation, and unrealistic expectations of control. This is the isolating selfishness that active addicts and their negative supporters must relinquish. The positive selfishness of wanting to survive and thrive is what got me to walk into the rooms and to keep coming back. It is what will motivate me to give away what I have gained. It is the surest way of retaining my sobriety.
  5.  Learning, growing, and transformation are uncomfortable processes. Stagnation feels comfortable. Happiness is an eruption of invited change. Serenity is not emulating a corpse. It is the trust that develops in the process, the people, and the Higher Power as a result of doing something that is tested in the fires of service.

I suspect that this will be enough to get me started. I hope that these thoughts might be helpful to you, as well.

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