Al-Anon Twelfth Step Work should remain forever non-professional,
But our service centers may employ special workers.
Every group ought to be fully self-supporting,
Declining outside contributions.
Al-Anon’s needs are real. Groups need to rent rooms for meetings, buy literature for newcomers and often rent P.O. boxes to receive mailings and packages. Intergroups and LDCs need to rent office space, pay phone bills, maintain websites, fund outreach and hire staff. The Districts and Areas need funds to run conferences and maintain websites. And World Service needs funds to run its office and produce and sell literature. So when the basket is passed at your meeting, give generously. But remember - “We need you more than we need your money."
- A member shares, “The literature describing the 7th Tradition reminds us that there are no dues or fees to be part of Al-Anon. That is a key principle of our program, meshing with our philosophies of helping—not collecting funds—and valuing principles above all. Those who are financially vulnerable needn’t be concerned about bank statements, they are welcome at any meeting. The “civilians” may find it hard to fathom a society in which everyone is welcome, regardless of their economic status. Yet this is the lived experience of Al-Anon members.”
There are many ways to support Al-Anon.
- A member shares, “Putting money in its true perspective is no excuse for members to opt out of supporting in other ways—like setting up the room or editing the local blog. There is no shortage of opportunities to be involved in the program and I’ve done many of them. Even when I feel like a pauper, I try to contribute at least two bucks per session, in the spirit of future abundance. Also implicit in this Tradition is that we are adults who need to take responsibility for ourselves and our program. This is especially meaningful to me because I often try to weasel out of personal accountability by obsessing about the lives of others. I hope my willingness to participate as per the 7th Tradition is a trait that spreads further into other areas of my life to help me enhance the accountability I believe essential to healthy adulthood.”
Providing for the Group’s needs ourselves is a principal of independence that we can extend to our personal relationships.
- “In my personal life, I need to be self-supporting socially, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. I cannot depend on another person for my happiness. I don’t have to adopt the moods or attitudes of those around me. If someone else is angry, I don’t need to be angry, sad or fearful. My moods and attitudes are something that only I can control. Just as I learned in Step One that I cannot control anyone else, neither can someone else control me – unless I give them the power to do so. Unless I rent them space in my head, they can’t get in it.” Paths to Recovery p. 198
Coming from families and relationships that have been distorted by alcohol often gives members a warped relationship with money. Instead of just being a convenient currency, money can mean approval, support, love. It can be used as a weapon or withheld and awarded as a means of control.
- A member shares, “In my family of origin, money was only given if we toed the line. It’s how they controlled us. Money represented “love” and if you stood up for yourself, you were cut off. You had two options - betray yourself and get rewarded or rebel and be abandoned. The good news is that I walked away. Unfortunately I took the problem with me. It took years of program to be able to ask for anything. Asking felt like a set-up. It was easier to just do for myself or do without. It was particularly hard to stand up for myself and ask for help for something that I believed in. I also fell into the trap of doing too much for others – I wasn’t going to be stingy and withholding like my parents. But with the help of my sponsor and the tools of the program, I’m aware of the Catch-22 I inherited and am getting better at asking for what I need and creating proper boundaries around my finances.”
Program helps us become aware of the mixed messages in giving and receiving support. By practicing the principals, we can deconstruct these messages and start to operate in a way that’s healthy and recovered.
- A member shares, “I gain a sense of self in Al-Anon. I listen to others learning about themselves. I get stronger, more able, bit by bit, to rely on myself. I learn enough that I can trust myself. I learn more and can trust more. But I cannot do it alone. As with a plant, I can plant the seed in the right place and water it - I can protect it against rodents or fence it to keep the deer away - but I cannot grow it.”
Self-reliance, healthy boundaries, the ability to ask for help – these are all gifts of Tradition Seven. They allow us to take care of ourselves and to know when it’s time to step back and allow someone else their autonomy.
- “Tradition Seven also reminds us that we can rob others of their dignity and self-respect if we allow them to develop an unhealthy dependence on us. Allowing others the right to pursue their goals with their own resources leads to healthier relationships with family members and friends.” Reaching for Personal Freedom p. 95
Tradition Seven is a simple principle with a complex impact. Practicing it allows us to create lives free of the twisted requirements handed down by alcoholic families. With such a clear, powerful boundary, we’re finally free to make our own choices. And as mature individuals we accept the responsibility to give back to the program that’s given us so much.