This is a response to the insightful reflection on anonymity as it is practiced in AA.
It is a painful spiritual maxim to embrace that a life-giving strength may also be a debilitating weakness. For example, do I give generously to bolster a weak sense of self and to receive the acclamation of others so that I might ignore the demons within me clamoring for attention? Am I regarded as one who loves all because I cannot acknowledge that I do not love myself? As we grow in grace, we find that a loving confrontation with these realities is the path of growth in newness of life and in a more certain future of sober living.
In my estimation, our rightly cherished anonymity remains sadly necessary because we live in a world where people are quick to demonize and slow to appropriately forgive. I believe our world would be better if we were all able to claim with a pride born out of genuine struggle and not self-service, that, yes, I am an alcoholic or an addict, and I have triumphed over this devil of despair. I have triumphed not because of anything I have done, but because of the workings of a gracious God in me. And, I know many other people who have the same experience – Come, let me introduce you to them. There is hope for you!
We once lived in a world where mental illness was a source of embarrassment because it was ignored out of ill- founded shame. We once lived in a world where cancer was not mentioned because of fear. We found that talking about these things gave us freedom to heal. Would that we could begin to talk about addiction in the same spirit of freedom and hope – openly, confidently, generously, and graciously.
Is this difficult? Of course. Is it necessary? Absolutely.