When Alcoholics Anonymous began it was necessary for it to be anonymous. The primary audience at its inception were working men, often with wives and children at home, and with reputations to be protected*. And we knew very little about Alcoholism. There is still a need for anonymity; however I argue here that it’s of a very different variety than it once was. The more people that are open and honest about their Alcoholism and Sobriety, the more healthy lives they can lead, and the more people we can save from this deadly disease.
DISEASE. DISEASE. DISEASE.
It’s a disease, FYI.
In today’s world, with social media, and seemingly 2 degrees of separation, everyone seems to know someone you know. Check your LinkedIn connections. So it only takes one post, or one chance meeting to be outted; we’ve become a group of closet survivors. And I think that is both selfish and damaging.
I was in a meeting recently and a man in his late 40’s with over 20 years of sobriety was irate that someone “outted” him on his FaceBook page, and his other 300+ “friends” will now know. . .
wait a second . . .
Shouldn’t having that much sobriety be something to be proud of? Shit, I don’t know anyone with that much dedication, except my fellow sober alcoholic friends.
When you hide parts of you to people in your life, major parts, like I don’t drink because I’m allergic to alcohol, oh and I go to meetings every week, and I sponsor other alcoholics and I work the steps . . . you are constantly hiding who you are. Your brain is always managing personas, taking inventory of who you are talking to, or who might be in earshot—constantly amending details to hide secrets. Secrets are like food: the more you eat, the more you eat. The more you lie, the more things you lie about.
If more people were honest about their struggle and success with and without alcohol, respectively, the more suffering souls would seek help, and the less lies we would walk around with. In all honesty (no pun intended), isn’t that kinda the point of getting sober? So we can leave lies and secrets in the past with the booze? We can completely clean and keep clean our side of the street, all the while helping fellow suffers, which is also kinda the point, Step 12 anyone?
The louder we are proud and honest, the more we can remove Shame from the word Alcoholism; and the opposite is true.
This is starting to sound oddly familiar? Don’t ask, Don’t tell?
* “It is important that we remain anonymous because we are too few, at present to handle the overwhelming number of personal appeals which may result from this publication. Being mostly business or professional folk, we could not well carry on our occupations in such an event. We would like it understood that our alcoholic work is an avocation.”
Alcoholics Anonymous, 1st Edition, 1939