Monday, November 2, 2009


MrSponsorPants has an excellent post on this topic today. I've known those who could wear a t-shirt emblazoned "Grateful Member of Al-Anon" and be comfortable, and I've known others who wouldn't acknowledge me if they met me walking my dog out in the woods, with no-one to see our mutual recognition but the occasional chipmunk.

If I run into a member of Al-Anon outside the meeting rooms, I let them set the tone. If they ignore me, I ignore them. I've had people come up to me and throw their arms around me for a hug in the grocery store, and I hug back with the same amount of warmth. I'm comfortable either way, so I allow them to choose.

MrSponsorPants did cause me to wonder if I should be writing prefaces to the posts which appear to describe what was said inside a meeting, to explain that just as he does, I take artistic license to make my point. Wikipedia describes artistic license as:

"..a colloquial term, sometime euphemism, used to denote the distortion or complete ignorance of fact.."

So when it appears that I've come home from a meeting, and am describing what took place in it, I'm not. You wouldn't recognise yourself, because you aren't in here; anyone written about is a compilation of people I've met in the years I've been in Al-Anon, and what they say is a compilation of the things I've heard. I thought I had better make that point clear.

I am of the opinion that anonymity was important when AA and Al-Anon were founded, and it is of equal importance today. It is only with an assurance of complete anonymity that many of us are able to speak up in meetings. I take this very seriously, and I make this point to my sponsees, especially the new ones, most likely to the point of boring them senseless on the topic. I know how distrustful I was when I was new to program, and how I slowly became able to trust, because of the member's adherence to this founding precept.

This may run contrary to the psychobabble phrase "You're only as sick as your secrets." I've had that particular gauntlet hurled at my feet. My reply is that it isn't my secret I'm keeping, it's the secret of the others around the table, and they get to choose whether or not they broach their anonymity, just as I get to choose to broach mine. It's a personal decision, and not mine to make for another.

It isn't up to me to decide that someone else's life would be healthier if they were less secretive. That's between them and their God.

1 comment:

  1. Secrets really destroy relationships though. I agree with you about anonymity. It is important to not focus on what others are doing but what I'm doing.