To Tell or Not to Tell… That is the Question
Let there be spaces in your togetherness. -Kahlil Gibran
It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not. -Andre Gide
Twice this week I’ve had conversations about the value of telling people in my life that I am in recovery. What’s nice about these conversations is that they were rhetorical, and nothing was/is riding on it. Typically, when I have had these conversations in the past, it was usually an intense “you need to tell them now, or else…!” situation. No so this week, both times were conversational, a pro and con discussion, and in neither situation was I feeling pressured to do something I did not want to do.
So, mentally, I have been revisiting the subject. There are numerous people in my life who know nothing of my recovery… non-immediate family on my husband’s side, long-time friends that I only see, infrequently, in group situations, neighbors, kids’ parents with whom I am friendly. At first, the only people that knew anything of my addiction were told by my husband. As time went on, I did start to tell people, but I was basically playing “beat the clock” to avoid other people telling my personal story. I have proactively told people, of my accord, twice. In each situation, the end result is the same: all people are supportive, and no one has cut me out of their lives as a result of this revelation.
So why not just tattoo it to my forehead? Why are there people left who do not know what constitutes such a big part of my life? As I examine it, there are several factors that prevent me from reaching out to people and letting them know. The first, and easiest to identify: sheer laziness. This is a conversation that takes planning, and I simply don’t feel like taking the time to do it.
Next, and equally important, is the shame factor… it is simply not easy revealing this side of myself. I have come a long way with this emotion. Initially, I was ashamed of the whole thing… being an addict, my behavior, and the resulting consequences of my actions. At this point I have no shame about being an addict, I am genuinely proud of my recovery. But I still have a great deal of shame with regard to my past actions, and resulting consequences, and this is a factor that holds me back.
Certainly there is a decent-sized dose of fear in the equation… I view several people in the above categories as very, very judgmental, and so I am very, very reticent when it comes to giving these people too much personal information. I know that small-minded opinions should not matter to me, but I would be less than honest if I did not list this fear as one of the reasons I am holding back.
The last component is my desire to choose those with whom I disclose. I suffered mentally when that choice had been taken from me in the past, and now that I have been given back this luxury, I really want to have a good reason to exercise my option to self-disclose. And I really haven’t had a good enough reason to reach out to the remaining people in my life. That could change when I get up from this computer, but for now I simply haven’t been “feeling’ it” enough.
So I guess I’ll throw it out there to my friends in recovery… what’s your position… Wear the Scarlet Letters (two A’s instead of one!), or It’s none of Your Damn Business?
In reading back this post, the miracle is the realization that I have come a long way with my feelings of shame… very cool realization indeed!
Posted on March 8, 2013, in Recovery and tagged 12 step, 12 step program, 12 steps, AA, Addiction, Alcoholic Anonymous, Alcoholism, Clean and Sober, God, Health, Higher Power, Recovery, Sobriety, Substance Abuse, Support Groups, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.