Many Al‑Anon service position terms last for three years. In my case, it was almost a perfect formula because by the end of three years, I felt like I finally knew what I was doing. But then it was time to let someone else have a turn. I thought, how can I let go of something that I have grown to understand and be successful with?

In 1968, Lois W., one of Al‑Anon’s Cofounders, wrote a letter addressed to “Long-Timers.” She wrote:

“If at one time we held the active leadership of our group it may be particularly hard to ‘let go.’ It is so easy to believe that because we have been in Al‑Anon for years, we must be qualified to tell others what to do, but our ‘actions speak louder than words.’

“When taking an inventory we long-timers need to constantly remind ourselves of this point and ask ourselves if for some personal reason (thoughtlessness, egotism, a desire to dominate) we are still telling others what to do and how to do it.”

Learning about the spiritual principles in keeping with rotation of service increased my willingness to step down from a position, even when no one else was standing for it—yet. Understanding that none of us governs (Tradition Two) and that the act of dominating a group is an obstacle to success, I sure wanted to get out of the way. The realization that leaving a position vacant could mean certain things might not get done—or maybe they wouldn’t get done my way—offered me another opportunity to practice letting go of the results and trusting that all will be okay.

I can take a quick inventory at the door to be sure I’m bringing recovery into the group instead of the family disease of alcoholism. For me, sometimes service is just as much about saying no as it is about saying yes. At each service opportunity, I can step aside and encourage new members to add service to their recovery, which in turn keeps my recovery growing and invigorated.

By Christa A., Group Services Specialist—Members

The Forum, January 2020