At first, this anonymous stuff carries a negative connotation, sorta’ “I’m so ashamed of myself.” Some of us see ourselves as bad persons and we have to hide our efforts to clean up our act and accept that we are addicted to substances that have come close to ruining our lives. So, we may wish to claim secrecy (anonymity) as we struggle down our path of recovery. For the brand-new person, this anonymity may be just what is needed - period of quiet reflection, and meditation if you will, to understand and accept the essence of the Program, to replace those “people, places and things” that contributed to our addiction and whose continued allegiance by the addict will only serve as threats to our sobriety and perhaps to our new found serenity. It’s also a good time to quietly take the first steps toward searching and strengthening our relations with our Higher Power.
The addict is undergoing a real restructuring of his or her life - habits, friends, ways of thinking, one’s value structure, our spiritual lives - it’s all under our microscope. We are fundamentally changing the proposition that we are the most important people in the room. We have to learn that “it’s not all about me” and this doesn’t come about by the wave of a hand. It takes practice - conversations with our sponsor, our home group, our families. It takes work on our relationships we have harmed.
But all this ignores something that is frequently present at our moments of surrender. Many already knew of our malady. They may have been embarrassed by it. Some may have guessed an addiction of some kind was causing our aberrant behavior and it’s generally true that those folks will be happy that you have seen your problem and are stepping up to do something about it. They are thankful.
In fact, in today’s social scene, it is not surprising that a conversation might go like this: Friend says, “Notice you aren’t drinking, how come?” You say, “Well, frankly, it was becoming a problem.” Friend, after reflective pauses, “Really? Good for you! What have you done to deal with it?” You then might provide a very brief summary of the steps of your program. But, your friend interrupts, and says, “Say, I have a sister who seems to have a problem” You, “Well it is a major problem today , ‘specially when it gets all tied-up with drugs.” More contemplative pauses from Friend, who then says, “Could we talk over lunch about all this?
There! See how you can find yourself in the middle of “carrying the message?” And, frankly, with advice from one’s sponsor, it’s possible an early arriver to the Program can have that conversation.
So, “Anonymous”? ... Yes, but there may be exceptions in some situations.
There is another reason our founders insisted on anonymity. Somehow some knew of the failed efforts of a group in the middle of the nineteenth century who had made good progress developing a program that was providing an effective regimen for the addict. Known as the Washingtonians, after some degree of success, the members decided to publicize their successes and ride the public speakers’ circuit preaching the gospel of recovery by following Washington‘s methodology.
Many returned to their addiction and the organization failed.
Why? There probably were several reasons but the AA Old Timers saw the collapse as a return to the ego, a glorification by the speakers of themselves: “Look what I have done, look at me, I tell you to follow me and, you will succeed!” This ego thing always is raising its head of importance.
Our surrender process cuts to the heart of our addiction. We always tried to cure our addiction ourselves, uninterested in any outside assistance. We learned we couldn’t solve the problem to please someone else. Our whole outlook was dominated by ego’s bloat ... ME FIRST!”
So, we have found that with the “Anonymous” approach, we have a chance for success.
Jim A./Covington, Kentucky