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Al-Anon Forum Magazine Featured Article

A Giver and A Lover
"... I began to feel I owed the world a debt I could never repay."
I came into Al-Anon completely dependent on outside contributions. Alcoholism had crippled me to the point where I wasn't responsible for myself and my life. I was a nineteen-year-old single parent on welfare - receiving financial aid for school. I was burning out my family members by having them constantly baby-sit my child and give me rides everywhere. I was rapidly using up everyone around me, especially those who loved me.
Because I felt the world owed me, I filled myself with resentments and justifications. Alcoholism had stolen huge pieces of my life and I hated the pieces that remained. I tried to get even with the alcoholics by taking as much as I could. I sold my soul, gave up my independence and compromised my self-worth because I depended too much on others. Eventually, I began to feel I owed the world a debt I could never repay. I felt like I would never be worth anything. As a result, I found myself in a constant state of submission.
As I kept coming back to Al-Anon, however, the Seventh Tradition sparked a hopeful challenge in me. I read it over and over. I practiced it in my meetings by contributing what I could when they passed the basket. I also practiced it by making commitments to do various things for my group. Eventually, I tried applying Tradition Seven at home with my housework. I talked with my sponsor about it. Slowly, I began to grasp the hope and faith that I could become financially self-supporting too.
I learned and grew by working the Twelve Steps of Al-Anon. My fear began to dissipate as I took action to become self-supporting. I began to realize my need for outside contributions was lessening. I risked practicing the principles in all my affairs and it worked. I found out I have all I need to be exactly who God wants me to be. I heard in meetings that if I supply the willingness, God will grant me the strength. Finally, I could start to see my way toward independence.
Today the only real ties or debts I have are to this program. I still owe some money, but I have made arrangements to pay it back. I am bound by guilt to no one and to no agency. It's been a long time since I've sat in a social worker's office and felt ashamed to be poor. God doesn't make junk. I am useful today--a good Al-Anon member, mother, wife, daughter, sister and employee. I feel good about my life because I know I am doing my part. The Seventh Tradition has taught me to be a giver instead of a taker. I ask my Higher Power to show me where I can contribute to life each day. All of my needs are met. I am doing my part and I feel calm when that is my focus.
I have many alcoholics in my life. Sober or not, they don't have to worry about me evening up the score. I leave the score-keeping to God. Just as I cannot live anyone's life for them, no one can live mine for me. The difference is now I don't want them to live my life for me. I want more of the good feelings that come from taking care of myself. Sometimes my sponsor and other Al-Anon friends remind me that I have made a commitment to Tradition Seven. That commitment calls for faith, instead of looking frantically for other people to give me my answers.
My real answers have all come from my Higher Power whom I found through Al-Anon. To think when I first heard that the Twelve Traditions could apply to my personal and family life, I didn't get it. Tradition Seven hit me where I lived. The fear, shame and guilt that I constantly struggled with have been replaced with courage, acceptance and a freedom that enables me to live rather that just to survive. I am so grateful to Al-Anon for showing me how to grow up. I am experiencing what it feels like to be a lady with dignity. I love the Steps and the Traditions. I love everything about Al-Anon because today I LOVE MY LIFE!
Sarah R. - California
Alcoholism is a family disease. Those of us who live with, or have have lived with, this disease as children or adults sometimes have problems which the Al-Anon program can help us to resolve. If you have answered yes to some of all of the above questions, Al-Anon may be of help to you. You can contact Al-Anon by checking your local telephone directory, or from the Resources page. Phone numbers and Contact Information for the Austin Area are listed on the Contact Page of this website.
These articles were reproduced with permission from 'The Forum', the monthly inspirational newsletter of Al-Anon. Al-Anon World Headquarters, Inc. is located in Virginia Beach, VA. See www.Al-Anon.org for more information.