Why do you identify your being as an alcoholic, even if you are still suffering in and with the disease of alcoholism and have yet to Recover?
An alcoholic is in desperate need of Recovery and certainly may want to reconsider telling newcomers they can show them how to Recover from a suffering so great. This is not The Program as written in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous. In understanding the importance of an alcoholic or drug addict separating their identity from that of what others tell us we are, consider what we know about the disease of addiction.
“…those who suffer from alcoholism.” Sober fellowships have adopted the sole identity of the illness we suffer from every time they identify their being as an alcoholic. We had a recently recovered member share about the underlying pain she did not know was plaguing her every time she reminded herself of her past suffering when saying “I am an alcoholic” over and over. As she recovered from her fellowship and got back in the book, she began to experience her Truth.
Many with experience in AA fellowships have heard people who say, “…if it’s not in the book it is an opinion,” or “If it’s not in the book it’s not the program.” Well, the text of the program tells us how to identify:
“When writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead as ‘A Member of Alcoholics Anonymous.'” Changes accepted in fellowships over the course of time like adding our names do not change or block the program of recovery. Teaching newcomers to identify their being as a disease for the rest of their lives is unfortunate and directly contradicts the Recovery and “ex-alcoholic” state of mind, body and soul Recovery promises.
Why our Recovered identity is so important!
If a person has cancer all are sorry for [them] and no one is angry or hurt when they are cleaning vomit, consoling emotions, and experiencing all the symptoms that come with the disease of cancer. With the alcoholic illness comes the destruction of everything you care about, misunderstanding, fierce resentments, financial insecurity, disgusted friends and employers, etc. The shame and guilt associated with Alcoholism/Addiction and the powerlessness we experience is what Recovery solves. Which makes the idea of adopting Alcoholism or Addiction as your lifelong identity insane – especially if you are “sponsoring” people and showing them precisely how they too can recover.
To those new to Recovering: It is okay, and in The Book, to identify as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous when speaking publicly. It is okay to identify as a human suffering from a disease you need help from – you are NOT your disease. You either have conceded to your innermost self you are suffering from alcoholism, or you have not yet but a lifetime verbal affirmation of this fatal malady is not a habit you need to pick up. Do not fall into the fellowship before you surrender to The Program. You are not a disease or illness and there is a solution to the illness you suffer from. Recovery is possible – join us if you do not have a local fellowship to heal.
Some fears behind identifying in your Recovery you may relate to:
A Member 3 years sober: “Why do we identify so much as “an alcoholic” or “a real alcoholic” in meetings if we have been through the steps and are taking other people through the steps?”
Some sober A.A fellowship responses:
1). “So you don’t forget.”
2). “There is no end….you don’t graduate.”
3). “There is no cure and if you don’t think you’re an alcoholic anymore – take a drink.”
An Alcoholics Anonymous Recovered member’s response on:
1). “So you don’t forget.”
Let others live in your past if they want to, you walk in the light of your Recovery today and speak the Truth of what God has done for you in your life. You can follow and trust God or you can follow and trust people. Why do you need to remind yourself of a problem that God has removed from you? You do not have to remind yourself of a disease you were once afflicted with that God has removed from you on a daily basis contingent on your spiritual fitness. Recovery is a gift to share with the world.
If the problem still exists mentally, physically, and emotionally, check your spiritual fitness.
2). “There is no end. You don’t graduate.“
People Recovered immediately when all they had was the choice to surrender to the spiritual principals of the program or die. Becuase you accept the gift of Recovery as promised does not mean you have to fear expansion of your Recovery. An arrested alcoholic MUST live a program that allows for limitless expansion. Hell, you no longer have to fear anything after experiencing the spiritual awakening that is the result of spiritual experiences let alone forgetting what hell you have been delivered from.
3). “There is no cure”
They do not have a cure for many things; we have a daily reprieve contingent on our spiritual condition. Our disease has been arrested, and what that means is we can activate it again any time we want to – we will always have our free will. In Recovery, our will aligns with the will of our Spirit and we follow divine direction changing our desires from the inside out. We no longer have to try so hard to just be.
Alcoholics are not the only people who take life one day at a time as that is all any of us have – we live in the Eternal Now. So, take your identity back! You are not an alcoholic, you suffer or suffered from the disease of alcoholism. You are a member of alcoholics anonymous, and if you are an alcoholic – Recovery is possible.
When directions became suggestions, changes vital to Recovery were accepted and continue to spread exponentially in fellowships. If you have suffered in spite of AA fellowships, treatment, detox, therapy and more – do not give up hope. You may have never had a chance to Recover and sobriety is not enough for many of us.