Guest Post: My Friend John
I am honored to publish an article written by my friend John. I have known John for a great deal of my sobriety, he has been a great source of wisdom and inspiration throughout my recovery. Without further ado, here are John’s thoughts on the importance of introduction within the rooms of a 12-step meeting:
Introductions – What Are We Telling the Newcomer?
There are many different ways to introduce ourselves in AA meetings. My favorite – “My name is John and I’m an alcoholic.” Simple, to-the-point, unembellished. Here are some others that I have heard, with possible ramifications for the newcomer. For simplicity’s sake, I will use my name in each:
- “My name is John and I’m an addict and an alcoholic.” We need not even bring up the 5th tradition implications (although they could certainly be cited). By using this introduction, we have unnecessarily set ourselves apart from the newcomer, who may shy away from us thinking that drugs are not his or her problem. If drugs are in our backgrounds, there is plenty of time to discuss that, but at a later date.
- “John, alcoholic.” This one is too quick and glosses over our deadly disease almost as an afterthought. Saying the entire sentence out loud conveys a sense of ownership of the disease from which the newcomer may benefit.
- “My name is John, and I am a recovering alcoholic.” This can be disconcerting to the uninitiated newcomer, especially if the person introducing himself has been sober a long time. It may lead the newcomer to question the value or efficacy of AA. The concept of continual growth through the practice of the 12 steps can be discussed if and when we develop a relationship with the newcomer, or when we share at a meeting.
- “My name is John, and I am a recovered alcoholic.” While many may hear hope and encouragement in this introduction, a newcomer may hear, “So you’re better than me?” The concept of recovery from a “…hopeless state of mind and body…” can be discussed as noted in 3 above.
- “My name is John, and I am a grateful, recovering (or recovered) alcoholic.” I question whether or not this introduction should be used unless one is grateful every minute of every day, as one is alcoholic every minute of every day.
- “I’m an alcoholic with a John problem.” This introduction, while it may be accurate, screams obsession with self. It also may lead the newcomer to believe that AA is a psychoanalytical exercise, rather than a path toward spiritual awakening.
- “My name is John, and I’m a real” Again this introduction may be accurate, but it may allow the newcomer to think that perhaps he or she is not as bad as the speaker. Also, having to qualify the term alcoholic with a superlative indicates our own desire to be special – either especially good or, in this case, especially bad.
- “My name is John (insert last name here), and I am an alcoholic.” Routinely introducing yourself with our last names may scare the newcomer into thinking that Alcoholics Anonymous is not as anonymous as he or she thought. It also conveys a sense of self-importance that is contrary to many of our principles (see 6 above). A possible exception to this suggestion may be our most famous circuit speakers (Sandy B, Earl H, Tom I, and many others come to mind). To those of us who routinely do this, don’t worry about changing to just your first name. If someone actually does need our information, he or she can always get us after the meeting.
As with so many things in life and in AA, less is often more. What better time to keep it simple than when uttering the first words out of our mouths.
Posted on February 18, 2015, in Recovery, That's What Friends Are For and tagged 12 step program, AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, Recovery, Sobriety, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.