Monday, January 18, 2010

Divine Secrets of the Al-Anon Sisterhood

I attended a Big Book study tonight.

In my line of sponsorship, we study AA's Big Book, and these Big Book studies are scheduled every other month. It's like a big family reunion, when the whole "family" gets together. It's always at someone's house. There is much food and many hugs. Then we all crowd into the biggest room of the house in some semblance of a circle. With so many people, it's a tight circle.

Everyone in our line of sponsorship is invited, the whole big, wide web. Laura is my great-grand sponsor and the matriarch of our clan. Karen is my grand sponsor. My sponsor is there, of course. And all of them have their sponsees and they have their sponsees, etc. There's a lot of wisdom in the room. And a lot of love.

Laura opens the meeting with the "Set Aside Prayer." It goes like this:

"Please God, help me set aside everything I think I know about you, this Book, Al-Anon, the steps, my relationships and anything else I'm having trouble with today so that I can have an open mind and a new experience in these areas. Please God, help me see the truth."

I love this prayer, because it's about humility. It's about acknowledging that we don't have all the answers, even though our disease makes us feel as if we do. It makes us right-sized.

Then we get down to work.

We introduce ourselves and say who our sponsor is, so we understand our relationships to one another. All the women who share my sponsor, and there are many, are my sisters. My sponsor's sisters are my aunts. They have their own sponsees, who are my cousins. The point is that we are all connected.

We read take turns reading from the Big Book and we share on what we've read. Unlike a meeting, we are encouraged to interrupt, ask questions, engage in cross talk.

After Laura introduces herself, she explains who her sponsor is (she lives in another state and so does not attend), and who her sponsor is, and who her sponsor was before she died, and who her sponsor was, all the way back to the beginning, in Texas, before Al-Anon was Al-Anon. It gives me a sense of history, of permanence, of belonging to something bigger than myself. It makes me feel rooted. It makes me feel secure.

I have come to love these women. We share things with each other we'd be embarrassed to tell anyone else. With each other, we can laugh at our foibles. We've all been there.

Women with decades of recovery tell tales about things that nearly undid them, even with years of recovery and earnestly working their program behind them. At the end of the meeting, Laura said: "You're going to get there (recovery), and you're going to lose it.

"That's why we have these events," she said. We bear witnesses to each others lives. More importantly, "When we're slipping someone is there to see it."

It's a wonderful reminder that we can't do it alone.


  1. What a great idea. I don't have that sense of permeance in my group. People come and go, we just don't have that many old timers.

  2. It sounds like you have a good thing going there. I wonder if it's the same great tree of sponsors that I was involved with for a while... which lead back to Texas, too. Hm.

  3. Sounds wonderful, Kathy. So glad you have this group and support! What a blessing!

  4. Hi Kathy,

    Thank you for stopping by to say hello. I love the tradition that you have described. Like Lou, my region doesn't have as much permanance (yet;) Always something to work toward, yes?

    Great post!

  5. Nice to meet you, Kathy! Thanks for coming by to say hello. You visited on a day when I was being a little random. But I came here and found you totally focused and I love your Big Book sisterhood. In my little homegroup, we read the Big Book a little differently and don't have that sponsorship tree, which is a fabulous idea. But the beautiful Big Book is still the same, and it is awesome how we all share that ultimate family. I'll come by again.