But One Purpose – 290

Our 5th tradition says, Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. How do we do this? How has this supported and worked in your recovery?

In full, it reads, Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of AA ourselves, by encouraging and understanding our alcoholic relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.

I explore how this tradition appeared in my life, in reverse order of the phrases in the tradition.

Welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.

    • I walked into my first Al-Anon meeting with some fear and trepidation. I didn’t know what I was going to find there, and I was terrified that I’d meet someone who knew me. Of course, that happened even before I stepped into the room!
    • I really don’t remember what anyone said at that meeting, but by the end of the meeting, I knew one very important fact: I WAS NO LONGER ALONE!
    • I was welcomed with open and loving arms into the Al-Anon fellowship. That alone was enough for me to come back the next week, and the next, and the next.
    • I try to remember to extend this welcome whenever a new person comes to a meeting, but also to all members, whether new or “long timers”. This can be a spiritual practice: to smile, to say “hi”, and to listen with real interest.
    • In my experience, there is no comfort to be had that is greater than someone saying, “I’ve been there. This is what I did. It wasn’t easy, but I got better.”

Understanding and encouraging our alcoholic relatives.

    • Oh, this was hard. I was so angry and resentful of my loved one’s alcoholism. Initially, I was angry at her. Why couldn’t she just stop. Or maybe just drink normally? Why couldn’t we go back to the “way it was”?
    • I started to learn about the disease concept by attending “friends and family” days at treatment centers (and yes, there were several of these).
    • What really drove home to me that alcoholism was a disease, and that it was not a choice of my loved one, was attending AA speaker meetings. During my first few years, I must have attended 100 of these. I started to see that the “arc” of their story was the same, even though all the details were different.
    • I could hear my wife’s story in other people’s voices, when I couldn’t hear it from her. I could start to develop compassion for her struggle.
    • “Encouraging” — What does that mean? It’s not standing on the sideline shouting “Rah!” or “Ole!” or “you can do it!” At least I don’t think so. For me, it was being loving (as best I could), whether she was drinking or not. It was not berating her when she slipped, as she did many times. And it wasn’t always easy.

Practicing the 12 steps of AA ourselves.

  • This is where recovery happened for me. I had to find (at least the concept of) a higher power. I had to look at myself and ask for help to change. I had to clean up “my side of the street.” And I had to grow into a new way of living, and finding a new emotional and spiritual center for myself.

Readings and Links

I read from Courage to Change, December 20.

Upcoming

Upcoming topics include quotes. What quotes have helped you or inspired you?

A listener suggested the topic of Spiritual Experiences. Have you had a spiritual experience (large or small)? Share it and help us to put together an episode.

Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

It’s a We program – Episode 139

the seaThe first word of the first step is “We”. It is often said “this is a ‘we’ program.” What does that really mean? How do we find recovery from sharing our experience, strength and hope?

    • All the steps (not just the first) start with “we”.
      • The AA big book prefaces the steps with “Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:”
      • The foreword to the 3rd edition of the AA “big book” says “… at its core it remains simple and personal. Each day, somewhere in the world, recovery begins when one alcoholic talks with another alcoholic, sharing experience, strength, and hope.
      • We know who we mean
        • Tradition 3 says “… The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.”
        • Tradition 5: “… welcoming families of alcoholics …”
      • Fellowship
        • This word appears over 60 times in the text of How Al-Anon Works.
        • You may have first heard this word in the suggested opening words at your first meeting:

          We welcome you to [this] Al-Anon Family Group and hope you will find in this fellowship the help and friendship we have been privileged to enjoy. We who live or have lived with the problem of alcoholism understand as perhaps few others can. We, too, were lonely and frustrated, but in Al-Anon/ Alateen we discover that no situation is really hopeless and that it is possible for us to find contentment, and even happiness, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not. We urge you to try our program. It has helped many of us find solutions that lead to serenity. So much depends on our own attitudes, and as we learn to place our problem in its true perspective, we find it loses its power to dominate our thoughts and our lives.

      • How it works
        • My experience
        • First meeting: no longer alone (I was “one more”)
        • Early meetings: finding commonality
        • Wanting “what you had”. Others had walked this path before me.
        • Getting a sponsor: A personal companion on the journey. A voice that is not mine.
        • Working the steps in a group: coming to trust. I’m not uniquely broken. Letting go of shame.
      • Step 12: “… to carry this message to others”
        • We do this. Not professionals, not specialists, but us, and only us.
        • Leading the “newcomers’ meeting”. Sharing our experience, giving those new to the program a place to share theirs and to ask questions.
        • Being a sponsor
      • I say “we” because I heal when you share your experience, strength and hope with me. I heal when I become part of “we”. And we know who we mean. And each day, we become (at least) one more.

    Upcoming topics include the first gift of Al-Anon: “We will become mature, responsible individuals with a great capacity for joy, fulfillment, and wonder. Though we may never be perfect, continued spiritual progress will reveal to us our enormous potential.” How do you see this gift appearing in your life?

    A suggested topic is “recovery after divorce.” Please share your experience so others can benefit.

    Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
    Continue reading “It's a We program – Episode 139”

    Tradition 5 – Episode 73

    Have you wondered what Al-Anon is about? Why do we keep coming when we feel better? What does Al-Anon tell us about our alcoholic friends and relatives? These questions and more are addressed by Tradition 5. “Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of AA ourselves, by encouraging and understanding our alcoholic relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.”

    Ruth shares her experience with being welcomed into the fellowship of Al-Anon, and about how she came to understand what it means to “encourage” her alcoholic loved one. Then Spencer shares his musings on this tradition, roughly following this outline.

    • What does it mean to “understand and encourage our alcoholic relatives”?
    • How can we gain understanding of alcoholism?
    • How does this help us?
    • How can I “encourage” my alcoholic relative(s)?
    • In what ways did Al-Anon welcome me?
    • How do I welcome others?
    • How do I give comfort to others?
    • Why is it important for me to work the 12 steps?

    Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
    Continue reading “Tradition 5 – Episode 73”