Any Saturday in Al-Anon world could be a workshop Saturday. It all depends on where you are and what your district or area is up to.

Workshops today. Notes of resources to look into:

  • Blueprint for Progress
  • Alateen’s Fourth Step Inventory Workbook

“Remember to take your Higher Power with you.”

“We don’t want God to get a busy signal when He’s ready to get back to us.”

“Lighten up, babe, and kick it upstairs.”

“We are not here to analyze ourselves but to build our lives.”

“My should-maker got me in trouble.”

“In God’s time, not mine.”

“I can teach my little girl self. I can love her and cherish her. And I can sign my letters to her, ‘Love, God’.”

“My part is often J&C – judgmental and critical. What I was really doing was expecting someone else to fix a problem that I own.”

“How is my favorite little victim today?”

Good activity for the future. Take a large ball of yarn. Have participants stand in a circle. Each person will pinch a place on the loose end of the yarn, say a character defect they are willing to admit to owning, and then roll or toss the ball of yarn to the other side. After everyone has had a turn, each pinching the yarn, a web will have formed. Point out that this web is actually a safety net, because we share so much of ourselves, have so much in common, that this is a safe place.

Meanwhile, I’m still working that 4th step, still in the “my part” column, but I’m past all the resentments and about halfway through the fears. Sex conduct and other harms are fairly short lists compared to my resentments. then I get to go back to the top and finish the last bit, the “where I was” column. That’s where I was selfish or maybe self-seeking, fearful or perhaps dishonest or inconsiderate. Or any combination thereof.

The 4th step is so good for marking patterns. For instance, nearly every character defect I’m finding has at its root my lack of acceptance. Here I was so proud of myself for being such a rational, practical, realistic person! But I was beating up on myself, refusing to accept my human propensity for error. I was beating up on others for not living up to my expectations. I haven’t been accepting of human beings as human, at least not until recently.

And most of my fears have to do with not trusting my Higher Power.

Terribly interesting. To me, anyway.

My sponsor is taking me through the 4th step really slowly and exhaustively thoroughly. The box with my paperwork must weigh like 14 pounds. We’re doing an AA-style inventory, but it’s almost absurd what’s included. I like it. I’ve been at this for almost a year and a half, and I’m midway down the 4th column.

I’m learning some very interesting things. For instance, nearly all my work-related resentments have to do with lack of detachment, lack of boundaries, or both. I tend to take ownership of the behaviors of other people, and thus deeply resent the uncool things they do as some reflection on me. I don’t set a protected area for myself or make a decision about what to do if unacceptable behavior occurs, so I wind up feeling stuck with it and resenting it.

One really neat thing that dawned on me was the cascading nature of some of my three biggest failings.

1. Lack of acceptance – I tend to have trouble accepting people for who and what they are, forever wanting them to be what I figure they should be. Funny thing is, I never thought I was doing that. But anytime I became angry at someone from failing their potential, that’s exactly what this was. Anytime I expected someone to do or be what I needed, when there was no reason to believe they were naturally inclined to, that’s what I was doing.

2. Lack of detachment – As mentioned before, I was personally invested in the behaviors of others. I also took on resentments that were not mine, being angry at people who had hurt people I cared about, whether that was deep in the past or not, whether I had any objective information about the reported harm or not. I thought of it as being loyal, but it was really just poisoning everything.

3. Lack of boundaries – When faced with a pattern of unacceptable behavior, I didn’t know I could plan ahead healthy things to do to remove myself from a toxic situation. I can decide, “If so-and-so starts to do that, I’ll excuse myself to go to the bathroom,” for instance. I used to let people run roughshod over me, or I’d build walls to shut them out. One of the daily readers has a passage that describes a boundary as not a wall, but a bridge, to help facilitate linking ourselves with others. Sounds weird at first, but I get it. I can connect with you, and still have room to lovingly withdraw if I need to. That’s cool.

I can’t get boundaries if I can’t detach my emotions from someone else’s behavior, and I can’t get decent detachment if I can’t accept them as they are. So, like the first step says, it starts with acceptance.