Tradition Two states “For our group purpose there is but one authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants — they do not govern.” My experience is that although this Tradition tells me that there is but one ultimate authority (Higher Power) and that no one person should govern a group interaction, when people are in conflict or have opposing strong opinions, this caveat often goes out the window for me. When I’m in a situation in which “others” are involved, whether at work or at home, I have to take a deep breath as a reminder to myself that it is easy for me to get caught up in a “personality” conflict.
I have to remind myself to be humble. We are all human. Sometimes I feel strongly about things, and this creates in me a need to be right. If I have researched an issue well or feel very passionate about something, I can get caught up in this need to be right. What matters is how God expresses himself through the group conscience. God knows better than any one of us does — including me! I realize that I don’t hold the absolute truth. Also, the truth for me may be different than the truth for someone else. Part of my problem stems from childhood — I was taught that there was one “right way” and that I’d better find it. Recovery teaches me something different — it teaches me that diversity holds value in its panorama of opinions.
When I do a Fourth Step inventory on how I show up in conflict relating to group decisions, I can now admit that many times I acted as if I wrote the service manual. My interpretation of a Tradition or a Concept was the only way to see it. I used it as evidence of “rightness” and figured others would be eager to learn from me! In this way I was playing “king.” Other times, I had a strong desire to not be controlled by another person in the group, and I just rebelled. If I didn’t like a person or their opinion I sometimes refused to be open. I can easily get caught up in trying to defend or convince someone of my point of view. Of course, this isn’t limited to my behavior in S-Anon. It affects all of my relationships. Harder for me to admit was that I participate in being a victim by asking myself why people don’t listen to me or honor my experience, strength, and hope. When I’m promoting, I’m not attracting; I just promote attraction. This goes counter to the premise of Tradition Eleven.
I have discovered that I don’t have to solve “it” for the group (or the relationship). Instead, I just put up the “white flag” and wait for God’s intervention. Higher Power knows what is best for the group. It was so hard for me to see that, despite my good intentions, it doesn’t always come across that way. It has been good for me to gain some humility by inviting HP to remove these defects of character.
What about after the group conscience decision is made? If I am left with a group vote I don’t like, I am not trapped. I still have a voice. I can choose to stay, leave, or learn to live with it. This has been a good lesson for me. My disease tells me that things are black or white. My disease is not patient and does not like to wait. Recovery tells me that I can relax, get quiet, and listen for God. I am given permission to wait until I have clarity. If I don’t have clarity, I don’t make any major changes — and today that’s okay.
Reprinted from the Fall 2010 issue of The S-Anews©.