There is a lovely woman who was meant to be on my recovery path. One of the many magical things that the Universe has thrown my way recently. Her name is Sasha Tozzi and she is a Unicorn – part Life Coach, part Recovery Coach, part Soul Explorer (www.sashaptozzi.com). I am about to get to know her a helluva lot better as I begin a 6-week course on Co-dependency with her this month.
On one of her posts she wrote about getting slapped on the hand (virtually) by a person who still thinks that our recovery program should remain Anonymous. As many of you know, I could punch someone when it comes to this subject of stigma and anonymity (except I wouldn’t because nothing can f*ck wit my zen lately. And because that wouldn’t be spiritually connected, now would it? But the instinct still comes like a fireball in my stomach, frankly).
On the post referring to this, Sasha writes:
“I wanna talk a little bit about why I talk a lot about sobriety and choosing a sober life. Someone left a comment on a recent post of mine saying that my intention is good but that anonymity is the core pillar of fellowship. In other words, that I should stay anonymous. ~~
I love the 12-steps, I respect the values upon which the fellowship was founded but I believe the one about anonymity is outdated. Outrageously so. People don’t know how to get well if no one talks about it. ~~
I think everyone has a right to choose whether they stay anonymous and that is their prerogative. I have chosen not to and it’s because I don’t think something that makes my life better x100 needs to be kept a secret. Period. ~~
There are a ton of people today that are choosing to be sober, not because they are alcoholic (although some are and if the shoe fits…), not because they need something like AA, but simply because it is the better choice.
I think being open about how I’ve chosen not to consume a toxic poison can only create more “fellowship” in this modern day. I talk about it cause it’s my truth and I talk about it so that anyone who needs to hear that this is a mountain that can be moved, can hear it loud and clear.”
I feel SO strongly about this subject. I do. It touches a deep survival chord in me, for some reason. I have been in and out of the rooms of AA since 2009, and for the first 5 years of my sobriety I carried the message one on one (to other alcoholics) and kept everything pretty hush hush. I didn’t have an issue talking about my recovery (to my AA peeps and to those who were close to me), but I wasn’t particularly vocal about my recovery outside of my AA fellowship world.
If it was not in the AA rooms (meetings), or in treatment centers, half-way houses, jails… the message lost its volume. My “12 stepping” (carrying the message of recovery to others) was limited to a one on one basis, directly to another alcoholic or addict. This is the ideal way to carry the message, yes; but unless you have a very flexible work schedule or a few free evenings, its VERY difficult to reach more than a handful of people at a time. As a working mom with 2 jobs this schedule was just not available to me.
At some point in my life, I mentioned to the AA mentors I had in my fellowship that I was hoping to produce a documentary and start an online video thread with recovery testimonials (I am a studio producer, and this was a natural fit). I was firmly told that I would possibly violate an AA tradition which states that we, as a fellowship, keep anonymity on the level of radio, press and film. I ruffled a few feathers when I questioned it, and felt weird about “going there”. So I shut up, and obliged. And little by little (for many reasons which you can read about on my story, certainly not just this) I got disconnected. I lost my passion & my purpose. Recovery lost its fire I and stopped helping anyone. I am fully accountable for having stopped working my program. Please don’t hear I am blaming this on anyone else. It was, however, a bit part of the avalanche of disconnection.
And so…I relapsed. For TWO YEARS+. More than 700 days in which I wrestled with the illness with volumes of secrecy, and shame. It took me a long time to get connected and sober again.
Now that I am sober again, I am throwing caution to the wind and become very LOUD about my recovery. I am proud to wear the addiction “label” because its my badge of honor as a survivor. Its my cornerstone for life, and I am hoping that the 2 years of suffering get put to good use by sharing the experience, strength and hope with others. I do so openly and ditching the anonymity, because like Sasha said, its antiquated and serves no one. I am sharing my own authentic truth in here, AND believe that the more I share, the more free I become. And the more I can help others.
I am proud of this new generation of "alkies" and junkies who wear their recovery “badges” boldly and proudly. Only we can carry the message of hope to others. Responsibly, yes. But certainly honestly, authentically and openly.
Cheers and hugs to all of you recovery warriors. We recover. And we find strength in being each other’s support and tribe. We have names and faces and stories of hope. We are not anonymous. We are recovered and our battles are worth sharing, as they become valid only when they help others get through their own, and to the other side.
Pamela is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach & Educator. She has been in recovery since 2009, and is a passionate about breaking the stigma surrounding addiction. Please share this post via the channels below or anyone in your life who may benefit from a little information about drinking and recovery.