After I started posting about going to an AA meeting publicly on this blog, I began to have some misgivings. These misgivings are rooted in two things: a sense of self-protection and the debate around anonymity in recovery.
I’m really new to this and I don’t know how people will react — although the cat is out of the bag for the most part. While, I have found that my friends and family as well as many of my online connections support me wholeheartedly, I know that this may not be the case for everyone.
There is a nagging feeling that some people might not be supportive. Some people might look down on me. Some people might not want to be friends with me. Some people might not want their children to play with my son. Some people might not want me as an employee.
I firmly believe that we have a problem in our society and that problem is stigma. The stigma around alcoholism and addiction is undeniable. Just look at the words we use for addicts and alcoholics — junkie, alkie, stoner, crackhead, lush. They are all negative. And this stigma has huge costs for the world. This stigma means that we are losing lives every day because people aren’t getting the help they need. And I could have been one of those people.
I know in my core that the only way that this will get better is if people take a stand and fight for better health care policy. And I know that part of that means putting a name with a face.
I really want to be strong enough to say “Fuck it” to those insecure feelings. I really want to #RecoverOutLoud. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for people who are doing just that.
But, with only 43 days of sobriety under my belt, I am just a newborn. I’ve been blessed with many, many good days — but there have been days when I’ve struggled and but for the grace of God have I made it through the day without a drink.
That brings me to the debate about anonymity. AA gives guidance on the issue of anonymity in the 11th Tradition:
Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and film.
The A. A. General Services Office has been clear that this includes the Internet.
I’ve struggled with this because I see it as counter productive.
But I understand why AA takes this position, even if I don’t like it. If I get vocal about my sobriety publicly and then relapse, people may look at it as a failure of AA. The program asks for my anonymity to protect itself.
Even though I have changed my handles, I am not ashamed of who I am.
I stand on my feet. I don’t crawl before anyone.
I hope that someday I’ll be able to publicly advocate for change using my own identity. Until then though, I’ll be blogging, tweeting, tumbling, and instagraming under the pseudonym, SoberCyclist.