Monday, March 21, 2011

Knowing me, knowing you....

Last Thursday at the "We are Not Saints Group" that I lead we talked about letting people know you are an alcoholic. I know that a lot of people do not want others to know that they are recovering alcoholics for various reasons. It doesn't bother me, and I have no problem telling people I am a recovering alcoholic. Why? Because I wish I had known one. Seriously I know that sounds crazy but I think knowing someone whom you feel has it all together, someone you feel comfortable talking with, someone you can ask questions with, if you knew that person was an alcoholic you might be more willing to explore your own options. Maybe, maybe not. Our path is revealed in it's own time, and I was meant to come into AA when I did, but had I known someone who was a recovering alcoholic, and had I been able to speak to them about the disease, perhaps it would have made an impression on me. I know, I know :Wudda, shudda, cudda, but that's not what I mean. I guess I grew up knowing nothing about alcoholics, except what was depicted on Tv, and in my mind you had to be a hobo, drinking out of a paper bag, living under a highway overpass. If my parents talked about anyone they knew that was an alcoholic, they would almost whisper the word. Like a terrible secret, so as my drinking was progressing I couldn't imagine I was an alcoholic. I wasn't a bum, drinking out of a bag. No just a bum drinking out of a wine glass. It didn't dawn on me that alcoholism like cancer doesn't discriminate. It can hit anyone. So for years lack of knowledge helped me justify my behavior. People would tell me I was a good mother and I would say "Good mother's aren't alcoholics", if I was promoted at work I would say "people don't get promoted if they are alcoholics", I had a whole list of reason's why I wasn't an alcoholic. Then I came to AA and found out I wasn't any different than anyone else in that room. What's really amusing to me is that everyone else knows you are an alcoholic way before you do. I thought I was such a good actor! No academy award for me. I guess my point is ( you're probably wondering "she has a point") is that I want to let people know what I didn't. That alcoholics are normal, functioning people, that we are in contact with every day. I hated all the lying, covering up, pretending that everything was great, and I did it all the time. It's very exhausting. So by letting it be known that I'm a recovering alcoholic I've been able to help quite a few people. At work, in social circles, in everyday life. I want people to know that it's ok. There is a solution. Too often I feel shame keeps people away from AA. It did me, going through those doors meant I was really what I feared the most. My fear was poorly based, and I learned to drop my shame pretty fast. I needed help, I needed to lean on other people, I needed to admitt that I was powerless. These things scared me to death, but they didn't have to. Life is so much better when you realize that you have nothing to fear but fear itself. I try to represent AA in the best way I know how. To let people know that there really is a way back. I tell people that AA took me from being a bystander to be a full time participator. Or as in the words of my friend Linda "This is a program for grown ups. For people that want to live a life richer, and fuller, than they ever dreamed. Some days I feel like I help no one and then other days I know when someone stops and says "Can I ask you a few questions about AA?" that I'm doing what I'm meant to do: give back freely what was so freely given to me......


  1. Hey DBG, I break my own anonymity--unless it might break also whoever is with me. My experience has been 100% positive in one way or another. Of course, discretion is used. There ARE Peeps who disagree with you and me, and with their own good reasoning.

    Press, Radio, Film (TV) and Internet are places where I do not 'announce'...well I lied, I failed the Internet test 17 years ago. I do not know HOW I could NOT talk about my alcoholism on-line. Therefore AA comes into the mix also--for me. I almost know it is not I almost know it's too late for me.

    Also, the rules are being made as technology proceeds to close communication everywhere.

    Right or wrong--what is, is. We try!
    PEACE! (For all...everywhere!)

  2. OH! No last name or picture--for me, that is!

  3. smiles. i have a hard time (or did) at asking for rears its ugly head at times but i have gotten better...the fact you are there wether you feel useful of not does more than you know...

  4. Ten years ago when I was sober for the 1st time I did not want ANYONE to know. I have come a long way since then. I'm as transparent as a raindrop today and there are so many reasons why.

    I wasn't who people "expected" to be a drunk; mom of four, director of a church board, lab tech at a busy clinic..... and therein lie one of the biggest testimonial lessons I am today for those who are unfamiliar with this disease.

    I am proud to be in recovery because I know what courage it takes some days to maintain a healthy recovery program.

    If I were dismissed by someone because I am an alcoholic, albeit social or work related, I frankly am not interested in having them in my life.

    My openess about the disease gives me a "reason" for being afflicted with this - I CAN help a new struggling alcoholic; I know her pain!

  5. As you know I'm OUT THERE as an alcoholic. And for exactly the reasons you posted.
    I spent years hiding from the reality and I think I was extra eager to stop hiding.

    Oh and the fact that many who knew me before had seen my escapades and MUST have guessed ;)

    One of the reasons I chose my arm to tattoo the Serenity Prayer was that it was obvious.

  6. I'll be honest if someone asks be directly, but I don't advertise it. I help a lot of people in the rooms and if someone outside is struggling and they ask me how I don't drink I would help. Just not something I can openly share in the workplace. Plus, my sister doesn't even know! EEK!

  7. I am willing to reveal it at any time, though I don't introduce myself as such in first meeting people. 1 in 4 people are affected by alcoholism (addiction), whether it be family, friend or personal experience. 1 in 4.

    I have, over time at work, been very honest with some of my co-workers. I've had coworkers who have struggled with siblings who are drinking to excess and scaring them (affecting them), I've had a co-worker who was affected personally with the problem, came in smelling like a distillery, 'falling asleep' at their desk, going out for lunch and not returning for hours. My boss is a cancer survivor, she is also very honest about her experience and I've watched her participate in programs where she carries the message of recovery from that fatal illness as well. It's pretty cool to know that we all have a very distinct purpose to really share our experience with finding hope and becoming well again. My boss is an amazing person with a very strong spirit. An inspiration. I hope I can aspire to be the same, cause that's what God really wants, for us to be happy, joyous and free (not to fear the negative consequence of me being real and honest) I've not had a negative consequence since I started this program in earnest, even the things I consider negative have become a positive experience in light of the growth and dependence upong God they have provided. God gets bigger and more powerful all the time.

    I guess I'm placed everywhere I go for a reason, if my story or my expeirence will help someone to be honest with themselves about the affects of alcohol in their lives....

    I have however learned a great deal about anonymity as it relates to the traditions, through trial, error and willingness to grow in the fellowship and to protect what AA truly is.

    The traditions and 75 years of successful fellowship experience ask that I not use my full name, I did when I started to blog, they also ask that I not use photos of myself, I did that too. I learned why it's important not to, and I learned that it didn't matter what I thought, it mattered that I followed the direction of the group conscience (I'm a non-conformist by nature so it's important that I become aware of being a part of a whole and being willing to be one of the many)carrying the message of AA not the message of Jessie's idea of AA. I still get it wrong sometimes, but thanks to you people who are so honest and forgiving, pointing out the defects, I find I keep growing and changing and getting better at being honest with myself and others about those mistakes and in that become more what AA (and God) would have me be.

  8. The reason my anonymity is important to me is not because I don't want people to know that I am an alcoholic it's so they won't judge the program by my example (I occasionally have an off day ). This to me is what anonymity means....that no one represents the program.