The ultimate responsibility and authority for Al-Anon world services
belongs to the Al-Anon groups.
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions,
Ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.
- A member shares,“When I first joined AFG, I assumed that Anonymity was merely a way to safeguard the personal information shared during meetings and between members. I had no inkling that tradition 12 was so much more, despite the way it is clearly described in our tradition as, "the spiritual foundation of our program," until I had the following experience with a newcomer to my group... After attending meetings for a few weeks, "Dee" asked me what my vocation was, and for some reason that question made me feel very uncomfortable. Ignoring my feelings, I answered her. Over the next few weeks, Dee and I became program buddies, and we communicated with each other frequently outside of meetings. One night, she mentioned how impressed she was with my recovery and humility--considering the position and title of my job. Ironically, Dee touched upon the exact topic that my sponsor and I were working on: humility. As I understand it, humility is knowing my place and value in this world, I am no better or worse than any one of My Higher Power's creations, and I am one of the billions of people whose worth is all on equal ground under the purview of my HP. Dee's comment about my humility (considering my title/vocation) gave new meaning to Tradition 12. Anonymity is our tradition that safeguards the humility of our fellowship. It gives equal credence to the contribution and participation of every single fellow, and supports each individual's unique spiritual journey. The discomfort that I felt a few weeks earlier, when asked about my vocation, made sense to me. I wanted to be viewed as the person I am showing up as in that moment - without the biases or assumptions that a title, a degree, or socio-economic status, may convey. Dee helped me understand the sanctity of this wonderful tradition, and I am grateful to her for guiding my greater understanding of Anonymity."
Anonymity guarantees that what’s said in the room, stays in the room. As long as everyone in the room abides by this fundamental promise to one another, we are safe - nothing we say can be tracked back to us in the “real world.” That’s real freedom and very rare. It allows us to give voice to all our fears, shames and resentments – and to heal, grow and change.
- “I belong to Al-Anon in order to learn how to live at peace with myself and others. To this end I have a responsibility to my group members never to reveal anyone’s secrets. I must protect the anonymity of my fellow members and their families. Only in this way can I help my group grow in its capacity to help others. Above all, I will never identify a story by a personal name. Just as I want to be assured that others will not repeat what I say at meetings or what I tell another member in confidence, so I guard against indiscretion.” One Day At A Time p18
- A member shares, “What I hear in the rooms, stays in the rooms. I don’t get to choose other members’ level of anonymity. We each get to heal by sharing as we wish and by trusting all we share remains safe and anonymous. I am so grateful for my anonymity!”
- A member shares, “I practice principles over personalities in program, at home, at work - everywhere. This tradition is wonderful in the sense that anonymity can be practiced outside program where we just talk about recovery through our principles and don’t mention one person or another.”
While the fellowship is made up of millions of people, the program is made up of its principles - “those guides which we discovered by taking the Steps.” (Al-Anon’s Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions p77.) It starts with surrender – admitting that we were powerless and that our lives had become unmanageable. Faith and hope help us believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. Willingness allows us to turn our lives over to the care of a Power greater than ourselves. Honesty and courage help us make a moral inventory and admit it to a Higher Power, ourselves and another human being. Patience and acceptance help us become entirely ready. Humility helps us when we ask HP to remove our shortcomings. Tolerance and forgiveness help us make our list, become willing to make amends and then do so. Perseverance and discipline help us do daily maintenance. Openness and spiritual harmony help us improve our conscious contact and pray for the knowledge of HP’s will for us and the power to carry it out. And gratitude and compassion help us carry the message. These and many other age-old principles are the guiding spirit behind the steps and while members carry the message, they aren’t the message. The personality of the messenger – no matter how charismatic or off-putting – is not the message.
- “…the most important thing about Al-Anon was the way we help each other through love and mutual concern for each other’s problems. And that the most important way to get that help was to listen to what was said, and not how it is said.” One Day At A Time p310
- “It is not surprising that we who have come to Al-Anon so confused and unhappy, with our thinking warped by family difficulties, should find ourselves at odds over some point of procedure or a personal misunderstanding. We all have different backgrounds, goals, motives, standards and hopes, and these can come into conflict when we find it difficult to communicate with each other…. Whenever I am tempted to impatience or anger because someone in my group does not agree with me, I will remind myself to place principles above personalities. Everything that happens to me as a person, everything that involves my relations with my group, can be ironed out by applying Al-Anon principles.” One Day At A Time p362
There are no experts in Al-Anon, no leaders, only principles and trusted servants. Our recovery depends on the support we give each other as we practice the principles, returning daily to the steps, traditions and concepts.
- A member shares, “The end of the year draws nigh. Step and Tradition One meetings begin anew in a few weeks. In this cycle, I’m reminded of the essential truth of Al-Anon: the constant vigilance needed to seek the program’s ideals. This approach of continuous improvement meshes perfectly with the 12th Tradition. Al-Anon has embedded in this final thought a reminder to always try to forgive our transgressors and ourselves. This is a powerful guide for living if we are willing to embrace it. Yet even with this knowledge and the tools to work toward it, I fail often. Fortunately, Al-Anon does not seek perfection. Instead, my sisters and brothers place a premium on the willingness to look for each person’s humanity. Any hope I have to live a moderately satisfactory life is imbedded here in Tradition 12.”
Safe in the promise of anonymity, we practice the principles, knowing that the tolerance and understanding we extend to our fellows is their gift to us.