“We are only as sick as our secrets.” This is a phrase used in my anonymous program to encourage us to let go (in an appropriate and confidential manner) those things that fester inside, preventing us from feeling free and growing.
Guilt, shame and lies will erode my recovery and can bring me to the verge of, if not actually into, relapse. Identifying these secret and sharing them with another can relieve me of the isolation of shame, keep me on the path of recovery and help me take steps to remediate problems from the past.
LAYERS AND LAYERS
Seeing the movie “The Anonymous People” got me to thinking about the FINAL SECRET – anonymity. I am a woman in long term recovery. When working I didn’t tell my bosses, I was afraid to have that known to my insurance company, and only in the quiet in a lunchroom would I share the information with a colleague in confidence. I wouldn’t tell anyone about my destination when I would go to a lunchtime recovery meeting. To do so would bring confusion, fear and concern. And, I feared, disdain.
The shame of having this disease was still a constant undercurrent, kept alive by the fear that I would no longer be trusted by my workmates, that there would be fear about my reliability and potential of relapse.
Addiction is not treated as a disease like diabetes or heart disease or HIV infection. A contributing factor may be our tradition of anonymity. While anonymity is critical in terms of revealing one another’s membership in a program of recovery, and anonymity may be critical in the sense of one being seen as a representative for a particular program of recovery; we seem to use it keep ourselves in the dark. When we do that we also keep our successes in the dark.
ANOTHER HUGE ASPECT OF THE SECRET
We in recovery force our families, the co-addicts, to maintain a secret. Yet again, even in recovery, they have to learn to stuff a shame in order to protect their family member of friend; their loved one who suffers from a disease. Is this healthy? The pain around being an adult child of and alcoholic, the spouse of an alcoholic or other addict), the parent of a child with the disease of addiction is enormous. There is a built in layer of guilt and shame, the unending mental repetitions of “if only”. The phrase “if only” implies that you could have stopped the process of the illness as if you could think your way out of kidney disease. You can’t. They can’t. Does keeping this one last secret underscore the misguided conception of control? If we TOLD they would drink or use again? How does this shielding contribute to ideas that that this is not an illness? By protecting the identity of a family member with a disease, are we not contributing to the negative perception of this disease?
What do you think?
The movie pointed out that we are also not able to celebrate our recovery and rebirth to health as we stay in the shadows.
This is the Voldemort of illnesses – the disease that cannot be named, and what do we want to do about that?
Kyczy Hawk RYT-500 and E-RYT200 is the author of “Yoga and the Twelve Step Path”, a leader of Y12SR classes, and the creator of SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) a teacher certification training she holds with her good friend Kent Bond E-RYT500. Find out more about her, her classes and the training at www.yogarecovery.com