Only as Sick as your Secrets

by Michael W.

In A.A., we join the fellowship if we have the desire to stop drinking. The word fellowship means “friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests,” which certainly qualifies as a strong common interest. As we join the fellowship we often think our lives and challenges are unique. Sharing our experience and hope requires a new form of humility: Can I admit I’m powerless? Can I find a higher power? Can I take a moral inventory of my behavior and secrets? 

I didn’t arrive at A.A. in a limo

When I was an active alcoholic, I did many things that I’m not proud of and of which I’m still sometimes ashamed. My behavior in active addiction led me to “pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.” I didn’t arrive at A.A. in a limo. Everyone I loved had either sworn to never speak to me again or joined Al-Anon. I was convinced my actions, thoughts and behavior were so demonstrably unique and destructive, that I would never tell another soul as long as I lived.

When I started working the steps, I noticed many folks would fear the fourth and fifth steps, myself included. We have to take a thorough (complete with regard to every detail; not superficial or partial) and moral inventory of ourselves. Telling my secrets to a sponsor and my H.P., I remember being quite terrified the first time. I had a lot of living amends and restitutions to make to others. My attendance at meetings didn’t start voluntarily. It was a requirement. These secrets were not just eating away at me from the inside out, they were blocking me from the spirit of the fellowship. My addiction placed me into deep isolation from all people. I had to re-learn how to communicate. 

I clearly remember the overwhelming relief, humility and gratitude to be free of these secrets. Moreover, I learned that my experiences could help others. On occasion, I realized that among certain recovery friends, we can even find laughter at the insanity of the disease.

When I am humbly ready for my daily Steps Six and Seven, I am telling my secrets. Whether talking to my higher power, my sponsor, sponsees, A.A. friends, I cannot stay sober without asking for help and telling my secrets. “To thine own self be true” requires me to stay humble and honest. If I connect with alcoholics, my H.P., share my secrets (or even seek professional help), these secrets will never, ever harm me or my recovery again. If my recovery is on track, I can be of service to others in Step 12. 

Everyone I loved had either sworn to never speak to me again or joined Al-Anon

The Promises tell me “we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.”  They read, “We will comprehend the word serenity and will know peace.” This promise comes through every day I am given the gift of sobriety. Secrets must be told, whether by inventories, prayer and meditation, or by helping others. Telling secrets removes all their power and brings peace and serenity.

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