By Cathie C.
“You are not alone”. Usually when we hear this, it is directed towards new members and those who continue to work through the steps of the program. However, I’m using this phrase in terms of our groups and trusted servants. It is to you that I say, “You are not alone”.
As a new person to the program, I can say that when things shut down, I desperately felt the need to keep in touch with a sponsor in the program. I knew I needed to keep pushing through the steps and the journey to self-recovery. Soon after the shutdowns of cities, Al-Anon turned to the Zoom platform after recognizing the benefits of bringing communities around the world together during this pandemic. This was a perfect example of the Al- Anon/Alateen Declaration, “I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of Al-Anon and Alateen be there. Let it begin with me.” And thanks to members who heeded the call to reach out to those in need, our home group began Zoom meetings as early as March 24, 2020. Soon after, I was able to attend Al-Anon Without Borders and got to hear speakers from Little Rock, Arkansas, Kent, Washington, Toronto, Canada, and all over the world. And I was so grateful for those members who saw the need to continue outreach and keep the legacy of the message going. I am forever thankful for home groups and people in the program that made it possible to continue in my recovery throughout this past year and a half. Thanks to these trusted servants, I was able to continue working through the steps uninterrupted. I never felt alone in terms of the program. I had access to online forums around the world and benefitted from every member who shared. The way we do outreach is forever changed.
During the last year and a half, people have spoken to the trauma of shutting down cities and the isolation of families. We’ve been made aware of the trauma of first responders as well. (Nurses, doctors, policemen, teachers...)
I bring this up, because while we recognize the trauma of first responders and all, I feel like we have overlooked our “first responders” in Al-Anon /Alateen, our home groups and trusted servants. Concept Four speaks to the importance of participation as the key to harmony. Concept Nine speaks to the need for good personal leadership at all service levels to ensure responsibility and the growth that doing service affords the one who serves. This idea of giving back is not an isolated idea. In Tradition Seven, it mentions that instead of questioning what life can give us, we should ask what we can give. It reinforces that when we reach out to others, we learn to give unconditionally, and we benefit in our progress as well.
Some of our groups are alive and functioning today because of those who know the power and life-changing benefits that are freely given through the program. But, in some cases groups are functioning in an unhealthy manner. I’ve watched groups working in isolation despite the online benefits, I’ve watched attendance drop and continue to be sparse, and I have watched the concept of service fall squarely on the shoulders of a few. (As opposed to the group).
I want to say to those currently in service positions, “You…. Are….Not….Alone”. We need to do what those before us have done, and continue to do, in times of need. We need to take the gift that was given so freely to us and ensure that it continues. Leadership and service, like everything the program teaches, is about progress not perfection. You don’t have to be perfect to be of service. You just need to be far enough in your program that you have moved through the steps and are ready to consider service. Those who are just beginning to work through the steps, remember that sharing your story, giving through the Seventh Tradition, and taking care of the daily functions of your home group is also service. Pray the Third Step Prayer, The Serenity Prayer, and consider stepping into a position of service. Each group is funded and kept healthy when EVERYONE is invested in carrying the message forward. A healthy group/district is one where all groups are represented, and everyone’s voice is heard. Only then can sound and wise decisions for the legacy of this program continue to be made. And it’s at this point that true recovery begins to take place. When you must give back, you/we are not alone. Let Service Begin With Me.
I end with this:
When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help,
Let the hand of Al-Anon and Alateen
ALWAYS be there,
And LET IT BEGIN WITH ME