Friday, October 8, 2010
Anonymity (click on photo for a surprise!)
Anonymity, that word most newcomers choke on, is a hard taskmaster sometimes, even for a seasoned AA. Michael and I believe in the wisdom of AA's concept of anonymity in the area of press, radio, and film. How many times on TV have we witnessed the infamous relapses of well known personalities who previously proclaimed AA responsible for their sobriety? Might that not turn someone away from seeking AA's help? On a personal level, we say AA is an anonymous program. Many of us choose to break our own anonymity if it will help another at work or in the community, but we do not have the right to break any one Else's without permission. We need to be especially aware that the newcomer might fear reprisal from their boss or public embarrassment if, for instance, we carelessly ask in a grocery store whether they are "coming to the AA Meeting tonight?", no matter our good intent. There is also the humility aspect of anonymity. The program suggests that we grow by becoming more humble. We give up "big-shotism" and boasting and learn how to do something good for someone without letting anyone know. Whew, what an order that is!
The place where we have been challenged to practice that concept is in trying to publicise our book, HOOT n GIN. We conferred with AA's General Office about mentioning the Twelve Steps, we used their disclamer, and we used the last initial of our name to be Anonymous. So far, so good. The book is made up of letters we wrote to each other during the first five years of our sobriety when we lived 500 miles apart. It illustrates how we supported each other and learned together how to change our lives by using the AA Program. Looking back at the letters we could measure our progress even when it was slow and painful. After making significant changes in our lives through sobriety we realized that letter writing so benefited us in that process that we decided to publish our letters hoping our experience might encourage others who are separated from a loved one to try this method of supporting each other and communicating what they are thinking or feeling in new recovery.
The anonymity factor has made it difficult to publicize our book to the very people for whom it is written. It seems inappropriate to mention it during a meeting, and it is not conference approved literature, so it is not accepted at the Central Offices. Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble both used our full names until we notified them to change them on the Web sites. We would appreciate hearing from others who have had similar experiences with keeping anonimity and hearing what their solution has been.