Sunday, April 12, 2009

Al Anon

The North Shore AA Round up and Celebrate Sobriety 2009 continue.

Al Anon is the sister organization to AA originally started by the wives of the first alcoholics who began AA. "The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend." The Al Anon meeting was titled "dancing with God". Two speakers spoke of the despair they'd experienced when they tried to control everyone and everything to make it fit their personal and individual plan of how things should be because of course they knew what was right. In regards to the alcoholic they shared the limits of 'nagging' . In Al Anon there's a wonderful phrase 'detach with love'. It's recognised that individuals and probably even institutions can be so toxic that one must back away from the disease while still loving the individual or individuals caught up in it. It's an act of self preservation that is in contrast with martyrdom.
I'm always reminded of my first Red Cross life saving course which taught me that if I let the drowning person take me down with them then I've not been a solution but rather compounded the problem. I was taught to wait and be ready for when the drowning person 'surrendered' to their need for help and 'accepted' help.
A joke was made that Al Anon had been called the "thin blue lipped brigade" because it caused Al Anon's so much emotional tension to resist telling their family or friends what they should do or say. Yet in psychiatry the 'need to be in control' is seen as driven by fear. I've found on ships in gales the discipline of the Navy is necessary because fear causes people, even those without any skill or training, to want to take control. The antidote to fear in Al Anon is a closer relationship to a Higher Power.
The meeting spoke to the power of prayer. The women who shared described the experience of faith and peace that came to them when looking to changing their own attitudes and responses rather than judging and criticizing others. In the end the meeting glowed with serenity and leaving people gently laughed at some of the more resounding comments shared. As is more common these days about half of the group was male.

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