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Anonymity is the Spirit of Our Fellowship
Anonymity is the Spirit of our Fellowship
Richard CarrieroFriday, September 14, 2007 "Anonymity is the spirit of our fellowship," so as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous I have tried never to tout my alcoholism as virtue or set myself up as a model of what an alcoholic is or should be. I am neither typical nor atypical of alcoholics. We do not fit a typical physical description. We are not tall or short, black or white, skinny or fat. We fit no demographic profile. Perhaps one of the most dangerous misconceptions about alcoholism is the psychic connection so many people make between alcoholism and the stew bum on the Bowery. While there is a strong connection between poverty, homelessness, vagrancy and alcoholism, very often it is destructive drinking that drove otherwise productive, healthy and sane men and women to the street. Alcohol's firm and insidious grasp made sufferers abandon their friends, family, property, values and self-respect and replaced those things as a golden calf, ruling them as they abased themselves. Often people in dire straits abuse alcohol to cope with or hide from their plight. The alcoholic on the street also cannot hide their actual drinking-they have no private den or living room in which to sneak swigs of liquor. The alcoholic on the street is neither typical nor atypical.
We come from every walk of life. Rich people and poor people can become alcoholics. Every race, creed, religion or sexual orientation is represented at an AA meeting. Our members work all different occupations and you would not notice the majority of them if you saw them on street or in the classroom teaching your children. The stereotype of the alcoholic vagrant is so destructive because it allows so many people who have not hit rock bottom to keep drinking and destroying their lives because they have not attained this negative ideal. Many people out there are suffering right now, needlessly because they believe in the illusion of immunity from this dread disease. No pedigree, religious training, skin color or gender can protect against alcoholism and its effects. Only abstinence is a sure way to avoid active alcoholism.
Alcoholism has so many different aspects to it because its symptoms are so different in different people. Each alcoholic has his or her own personality that is distorted by the disease and therefore that person exhibits different symptoms. A shy or repressed person will often find their inhibitions lifted when drinking and become aggressive, angry, overbearing or even violent. A convivial person by day might become morose, depressed or nasty under the influence of a few drinks. Nonetheless at core, the essence of the disease remains the same. We are a fellowship of men and women who cannot control our drinking. When drinking we lose control of the ability to stop. When drinking we lose control of our behavior. We often "black out" losing whole hours or nights of our lives and waking to a feeling o...