I came out about my recovery status to someone at work last week. I’ve worked at the same place for almost 15 years, and during that time I think I’ve told four people that I’m an alcoholic, though I may be forgetting someone. I told a woman I worked with (let’s call her Victoria) because she threw AA lingo around. Turns out she had been sober for some time. Now I’m not remembering exactly, but I think she had recently drank and said she wanted to get back into AA. Carole and I went to a few meetings with her, but she lived really far away from us. Later someone mentioned that Victoria was drinking at a work function. Victoria left the job, and people I know still know people who know her. I don’t know if she’s sober or drinking, but I guess she hasn’t had any major smash-ups, at least not big enough to come to my attention.
I told another woman, let’s call her Olga. I don’t remember how or why I told her. I worked with her for years, and she went to school to become a pastor, and she went to school for something else I don’t remember. Olga is a funny kind of out-of-sight-out-of-mind person. Carole and I and Irene, my work partner, to name three, tried to stay in touch with Olga, but she just didn’t respond. She left my work place and came back to another division. We would see her occasionally when she came to our location for training, and she’d be friendly enough, then nothing. Eventually Carole and Irene gave up trying to keep in touch with her, and they don’t give up on anybody.
A guy I worked with, let’s call him Stellan, showed up at a meeting. He was a really nice guy. While we worked together many of us thought he was smoking pot, at least. After he wasn’t working with us anymore, his name showed up in the paper when he was drunk driving and fled from the police. They threw down those tire shredders to stop him. He came to my meeting, since he lives nearby. I gave him a big book and all the encouragement I could and that’s the last I’ve seen or heard of him for some years now.
Then Irene. I think I wrote about that kerfluffal, but I never wanted to hide it from her, but I ended up hiding it from her, and finally told her about it quite recently. Thank goodness.
Now someone at work got in trouble with drinking. I won’t got into it, since it’s current, but it was bad enough for her bosses to need to know, and so I told her. This is what I think about that:
- It feels kind of ridiculous to tell someone that I have 28 years. I’d give a dollar to know what that sounds like to someone who is new. I imagine it sounds like I’m revealing I’m from Mars.
- I realize that all that thought into what it sounds like is humility in reverse.
- I hope she doesn’t tell anyone, but I don’t really care if she does. Unless I could possibly help someone, then I’d be glad.
I’m “boss” to most of the people I work with day-to-day, so . . . I don’t know. I imagine this one will turn out like the others and she will fade away.
I’ve gone through a few phases of wanting or not wanting to be anonymous. At first, like a lot of us, I didn’t want to reveal to people that I had a drinking problem. In my case they may not have known, because I was so young. They may thought I was just crazy, a slacker, who knows what else. Next, during most of the six years I spent trying to stop drinking, I didn’t want people to know because that would mean they would understand the implications when next they saw me drunk. It’s that long phase that still haunts me a bit today.
Mostly, I think, I just haven’t cared about it. Sure I’ve wanted to tell people, when I thought it could help, like those I’ve told at work through the years. But I don’t think I’ve actually helped anyone that way. And if I haven’t, it’s a wash.
Writing this and thinking about it I realize I’ve entered a new phase that is all about ME and the reverse of humility. I think that telling someone I’ve been sober this long sounds ridiculous, unless of course that person has experienced some degree of success in AA. Even then. This is a confession, because I fully realize these feelings are wrong.
And finally I have to insert the note that is so often lacking from this topic in AA. Principles before personalities – means that I should not lift myself up by being public about my AA status. I can’t be public at the level of press, radio and films with my full name or face. I need a certain degree of publicity in my private life in order to carry the message.