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December 5, 2018

If Secrets Make Me Sick – Then Why Should I Be Anonymous About Being an Alcoholic?

I love Dr Phil’s quote that “people who have nothing to hide – hide nothing”.

I absolutely agree with this which is why I have a problem with AA’s extreme confidentiality.  I have always felt that I had to keep it a secret (and feel shame) that I was an alcoholic.  Do Cancer patients have to hide their disease?  I believe that anonymity is the major reason why addictions continue to be so misunderstood.

Since my first time in rehab seventeen years ago, I have gone to AA off and on but never for any consistent period.  The program was created by two men in the 1930’s – one was a stockbroker and the other was a doctor.  I understand and fully appreciate the proven effectiveness of this program and the millions of lives that have been saved.   But I would like to see some changes.

First, I wonder why the program still relies on the same Blue Book which was written more than eighty years ago.  I think that there have been new editions of the “their Bible” but I don’t think the updates have gone far enough.  It is my opinion that the AA program has not kept up with the times which is why it is not helping as many people as it could.

The last time I attended AA was about five years ago.  I would often say to my sponsor that my biggest frustration was that when I would stop drinking – the depression was still always there just as it was all those years ago before I took my first drink?  I had already become very spiritual like the 12 Step Programs prescribe but the alcohol was still giving me the pay-off of a happier and more quiet mind (at least in the short-term).

Almost always I would feel worse after leaving AA meetings.  When I compared myself to all the others who had such lengthy sobrieties – I would feel like such a failure.  Many times I went home to either go to bed and/or get drunk.  In fact, I would often motivate myself to go to meetings by knowing that I could buy some wine on my way home.  It has been a long time since we have actually kept alcohol in the house because I know I will be tempted to drink it if it is easily attainable.

I specifically remember my first all-day AA event (I think they call them “round-ups” or “rodeos”) – I left early so that I could go home and drink.  I was mortified at the point in the day when they wanted members to stand up when the MC called out the number of years of each person’s sobriety.  I think they started at fifty years and went all the way down to one year, one month and one day.  I couldn’t lie and because I had drank the day before I didn’t stand up.  However, since I was a new attendee, everyone’s eyes were on me.  Shrinking in my seat, I could not wait to get out of this awful situation.

I continually ask myself – what is the matter with me?  Many addicts come from broken homes (i.e., divorced parents, teenage mothers, addicted parents, etc.) and often have issues of sexual or physical abuse in their pasts.  Neither of these apply to me – so again- why me?

I’ve been told by various AA members that the reason I continue to struggle is because I have not hit rock bottom.  I’ve always been able to afford my own alcohol and I usually drink at home.  I tend to stick with wine and once I have had enough – I usually fall asleep.  As well, I have created a life where my drinking habits really don’t interfere with anything.  I know, I know – this is the sick mind of an alcoholic with all the excuses…  I can just hear Dr. Phil now.

Speaking of Dr. Phil, he often says – “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”.  But what happens if you acknowledge something but you still don’t know how to fix it?  Part of me wants to share my story with Dr. Phil but to be honest I feel he can be quite harsh with some of his guests.  This often makes me want to yell to the television – addicts are not bad people – they are ill and need compassion and non-judgmental help.

I would like to send Dr. Phil some emails and recommend that he spend less time on all the drama that the addict creates and more time on the solution.  In my case (as well as others) – I believe the lack of faith or “spiritual bankruptcy” is one of the underlying causes of many addictions.

Which is why I’m sharing my story with Elephant Journal.  I truly believe this online magazine is absolutely on the right path to solving many of today’s pressing problems such as addiction.  I definitely, don’t have all of the answers but I’m going to keep up with my spiritual work because it feels like the right thing to do.  And I haven’t had a drink in more than four months so cheers to me.

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