Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Bloggers Anonymous: does blogging violate the traditions?

I may have found a way to blog that is better for a mac user. We shall see. I do not intend to lose what has been written already, I intend to transfer it.

Alcoholics Anonymous has in addition to the well known Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions , and these are designed to be a kind of shield, protecting AA from not only itself, but from its individual members. The Eleventh Tradition states: "Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A. A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A. A. members ought not to be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us."

Is this blog a violation of those traditions?

That is a valid question. I could see Bill W. loving the ability to blog; I can picture him with a laptop and a cigarette writing “As Bill Blogs It.” I really can.

I have not posted my last name anywhere in the blog or on my .mac site for this reason. My alcoholism and my recovery are essential to my story. If I were to leave those out, I don’t think there would be much to tell. Without that part of my story, why would my having a good marriage matter? What is the big deal about my faith in the Goddess and how I arrived at it? Alcoholism provides the context of the tale and is the background against which life plays itself out.

How’s that for justification/rationalization? Okay, here is more:

I am hoping that if anyone reads this, that it might help him or her. So, I do have an audience in mind, an audience that is alcoholic. I am not so good at sharing experience, strength and hope verbally. I was given the gift of being able to communicate through writing as a child. I have always been best able to express myself on paper (or screen as the case may be).

Goddess willing, I will be able to use this gift to help others.

Photos on my website and on the blog, how do they fit in with anonymity? I am a nobody. By this, I mean that my photo will not help identify me if you don’t already know me. I am not famous. However, it would not take a lot of detective work to find out who I am. That would be pretty stupid on the part of whoever did the detective work, an email saying Hello would make more sense. After all, I am human and I like having this sort of interaction with others.

There is a relatively famous AA speaker, Joe McQ. who wrote a book on working the steps called, “The Steps We Took.” I gather there was a lot of controversy over the book because it featured his photo. Frankly, I don’t understand the controversy over his photo. I still do not know who he is; he looks just like many other older African-American men to me. If I passed him on the street, I would not know it, I do not believe. What I found to be more controversial to me is that he included the name of the treatment facility he worked at on the back cover under the photo. To me that sounds like it could involve money and prestige at the level of the press.

Of course there is also the author of Drinking, A Love Story , Caroline Knapp. Different deal here, she wrote a book sharing her experience, strength and hope through her story. With her real name and photo. She was already a well-known, published author. So, there is no debate. Caroline Knapp broke the traditions—just trashed them.

On the other hand, I feel that that book was instrumental in getting me to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. In fact, I feel that book saved my life.

There is also the issue of my other plans and blogs. Let’s say I keep things this way, no last name, some photos, and I don’t go pushing this blog on anyone. However, I am planning other blogs—political, environmental and pagan to display my other ideas, communicate my thoughts in those areas. I also would like to become a published author, earn my living by my writing. If I gain any measure of publicity this will be found. My anonymity will be gone.

I think I will cheat and take the easy way out. I will post this to the blog, pass the link to my sponsor and let her decide. I do take comfort in knowing, without even checking, that I am not alone in facing this dilemma.

Good Morning Goddess Brigit, my name is Andy and I am an alcoholic. I have been kept sober since Imbolc 2001, one day at a time, by Your grace and Your grace alone. I’d like to take this moment to thank You, my Higher Power for this my daily reprieve. Today is a good day to be sober.

Please, Goddess, be with me today all through the day and help me to stay sober all day long. Show me Your will for me and grant me the power to carry that out. Thy will, not mine be done. Inspire me to act and create in Your name. Be welcome in me and to me body, heart, mind and soul.

Adjuva Brigittia! Thank You! Blessed Be!