‘Anonymity’ Comes in Many Shapes, Sizes and Forms

When I say I love anonymity, I mean it. But I need to embrace it even when it isn’t convenient.

aa-soberJust because anonymity is the foundation of AA tradition, doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Many of us find that when we enter our first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting we sllllllllide in through the back door, we may hide in a huge meeting so we don’t have to speak. We pray we don’t recognize anyone and more importantly, NO ONE recognizes US.

Those of us that didn’t make front page news with a crash or a public meltdown, anonymity is simple. Just DON’T tell anyone you saw me here and I won’t tell anyone I saw YOU here.

And like the AA program with the 12 steps & 12 traditions, we need to find our own way to stay away from a drink today. For ONE DAY-just today. Each person needs to find their own path and make the journey.

For me, it was a very inward direction and at the time I had no idea what direction I was going in. Then again, everything was so foggy my first 90 days, I just went to meetings, looked for a sponsor, got some phone numbers. Going to meetings allowed me to navigate this new “space” I was in called “recovery” for myself. WITHOUT outside pressures (real or imagined.)

I did not go to a rehab center. I did not have to explain any absence for a long period of time. I continued to work, though “ratchetted” down my work schedule significantly. Went to three meetings almost every day for the first 90 days. Now 3 ½ years later, I often go to two each day.


Things I didn’t need in early recovery were other people’s expectations of my “success.” A few of my close friends and family knew what I was up to but not many; they needed to know I wasn’t lying when I said, “I need to go to a meeting.” And then show up when and where I was supposed to when I said I would. Certainly, not late with booze on my breath. One of my good old tricks would be to drink in a bar that was out of the way just to take the edge off, stop the shakes. Then eat a half tin of Altoids and go to the next “function.” (Functioning alcoholic-poor humor reference?)

I needed to prove to those around me and most importantly to MYSELF that I was seriously working to ease my own pain and trying to make progress to live with the “normal” people in the world.

“Normal Is a Setting on a Washing Machine”

I heard this in a meeting once. I also had to remember that most “normal” people could care less what I am up to – as long as it has no effect on them, it isn’t their business. I have found that “normal” doesn’t exist and I don’t need to wear my heart on my sleeve either. Meetings are where I get Recovery, not from people feeling sorry for me that are not alcoholics.

When I say I love anonymity, I mean it. But I need to embrace it even when it isn’t convenient. For example: The name, Janis L., I use when I write in recovery and about recovery, is not my real name. I go to a lot of meetings. I quote a lot of people sharing their “Experience, Strength and Hope.” Some people in recovery may not appreciate that I do this. In my opinion, I feel that my writing gift which I have done for 25+ years, provides their words to a broader recovery audience. Making myself “anonymous” as Janis L., I am protecting their anonymity too, thereby preserving AA’s 12th tradition.

As we grow in recovery, we learn along with so many other things, we cannot change what OTHERS think.  We can only “do the next right thing” for ourselves and have comfort in knowing that the rearview mirror is no longer cloudy with excuses, forgotten promises and shame.

The Stigma Is Real

Read more “the fix”…

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