191: Spiritual Principle – Anonymity (Sort Of)

We are talking about the spiritual principle of anonymity. Just don’t say your last name or tell anyone about your recovery, right? There’s so much more to this seemingly simple spiritual principle. After all, it’s the spiritual foundation of all the traditions. We explore the multiple facets of anonymity, how it applies in our lives in many ways, and how it can help us in our journey. Listen in as we talk about anonymity as a spiritual principle, and then share your thoughts with us.

In this episode:

⁠Tradition 12⁠

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or Fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature [Music]

welcome back it’s recovery sort of I’m Jason a guy who’s not very Anonymous and I’m Billy I’m a person in long-term recovery and we’re talking about the spiritual principle of anonymity which is impossible to say and maybe even more impossible to talk about for an hour so uh you know thinking through all these things this morning just what are we going to talk about is there any science around this what’s it say in our literature what’s the definition like none of it made it seem like it was going to be an easy conversation or yeah and you know it’s one of those words we hear it in all the readings and it’s in the 12th tradition you know anonymity is the spiritual Foundation of all of our Traditions you know it’s like gives it this you know importance here yeah huh and you know I don’t know if we always think about it as deeply as that sounds like we should yeah no I’m with you a lot of time most of us think yeah anonymity I got it don’t tell anybody I’m in an A or don’t tell anybody I’m in AAA or don’t mention my last name in a 12-step Fellowship in the same sentence like whatever loose bag understanding don’t tell anybody that’s all Billy at the meeting right right right and then you know in practicality it’s very sort of confusing sometimes and and I mean you could in some ways almost say that almost anything that you do is a violation of a you know the anonymity Clause if you mentioned that you’re in recovery or what Fellowship you go to or what meetings you attend you know it’s it’s confusing but yet when you turn around um I think our area has like a Facebook group that you can join and there’s Facebook pages and oh but it’s private Billy you know yeah you know social media posts from these groups it’s very very confusing and then of course even like us like we do a podcast we talk about recovery we’ve specifically mentioned what Fellowship we’re in you know you talk about it as we’re the spokesman for them I don’t know I don’t know if it was only our tradition 12 episode I’m pretty sure we addressed it on there a little bit or talked about it at least the the idea of like are we breaking the anonymity piece of recovery by doing this but I think there was actually another episode long before that near the beginning where we kind of talked through that idea and I don’t maybe it’s called Anonymous I don’t [  ] know but um yeah that’s it’s a really confusing piece right is podcasting the level of press radio and films is that an outdated point in 2023 has the the landscape of public figure changed because we’re all kind of public figures on these social medias and yeah that’s all confusing and I read through a little bit of you know what I could find of like some AAA history and AAA stuff you know obviously because they dealt with this and came up with this idea before the fellowship that we go to so they’re the founders of this concept or whatever but you know the the story they gave in one of their pamphlets about uh anonymity is of a baseball player and he was a famous player and he had a big turnaround and he was in Fellowship and you know mentioned it publicly or it was broadcast publicly whatever and that didn’t seem to be the issue it you know the fact of him doing it what seemed to be the issue is after he did it there was a loss of control of everyone else doing it and then you had for lack of a better word you know nefarious people coming in and using that to open you know like recovery programs or recovery housing and affiliating themselves with you know the thing and saying oh I’m a member of AA and I opened this recovery house and you know that sort of [  ] and so it seemed to be not necessarily that people would come out and say in public that they were members of the particular Fellowship it had more to do with how once you open that door there’s a slippery slope that you can’t necessarily close yeah well and and I’ve never read through or researched it as well as it sounds like you did this morning or yesterday but like just the little bits that I’ve known it wasn’t so much that a a wasn’t welcoming of like the publicity of the famous people it was more that like some famous people or they first saw famous people could like publicly announce that they’re in AAA and it works and they’re doing well and that would be great and then six months later if they relapse and look like [  ] and crash their car and kill somebody then it looks bad on AAA like it doesn’t work so it was more about the we don’t want to look bad when this doesn’t play out well I guess I only want the good University we don’t want the matter but even you talking about that I could picture you know God you’re thinking 1938 small town America I’m in a small town that has a drinking problem and now I’m walking around telling everybody I’m an AAA and it’s working and collecting money to help these other people in it like you know what I mean like that could go sideways pretty quick yeah and you know there’s a movie out there the anonymous people movie I know I’ve mentioned it before that was the first uh different idea that I got around Anonymous and they go into the history and stuff and they actually you know do a little more Justice to the story I just told and some others of like the intention of that idea of anonymity was not you know that everybody remained quiet and that we stay you know Secret in these closets you know and not tell anybody anything about what we’re doing uh but that we just try to keep it more on a smaller like personal level um that we don’t have you know spokesman or spokes women or you know people that are out there you know pushing the fellowship as like a sales and marketing kind of concept hmm so if you go to just the dictionary which I feel like of all the spiritual principles this is the worst one to try to rely on a dictionary definition because I don’t think it it matches up anything to what we talk about but you know you find a lot of stuff about like the state or of being anonymous um one I could find that didn’t say Anonymous in it a situation in which a person is not known by or spoken of by name not very helpful for for our studying in our literature it actually does mention that the dictionary definition it says a dictionary definition of anonymity is a state of bearing no name in keeping with tradition 12 the I becomes we the spiritual Foundation becomes more important than any one group or individual um economy me pause earlier when you said that you know the idea like it’s right in our tradition that’s usually posted on a wall in every meeting you go to and it’s probably written in every book we’ve put out or piece of literature like this is the spiritual Foundation of our [  ] program and like I don’t know that makes me laugh and be a little entertained this morning just thinking about the idea of how little I understand it or that it’s been talked about to me and like oh but [  ] it’s the foundation for everything I was supposed to be doing for the last 20 years or something yeah and well I mean I like that that you just read out of the literature because what it points out it was the first way I guess I had a sponsor introduce anonymity to me was this you know having no name and what he said that I related to a lot was that it’s like you know we all identify ourselves as by our first name in the program because our last name is all the same you know what I mean it’s like we’re all related we’re all connected you know it’s Billy attic Jason attic you know whoever John addict and that you know you you hopefully if you grew up in a somewhat healthy family like you want to treat everyone in a meeting like their family like we try to keep personalities out of it we try to you know remember that we’re all the same on the same level on the same playing field there’s no you know big eyes and yeah you know we we’re all equal and within the fellowship um it doesn’t always feel like it plays out that way and of course that’s where we have issues because we do have uh areas where we have you know leaders of certain things or people that are in charge of certain things um but the idea of that and service and our service structure is that those people are supposed to rotate and change yeah you know and that it’s not supposed to stay the same person you know year after year after year um that’s funny because I pulled that statement out of our literature this morning just so that I could come on here and like crucify the fact that we don’t do that at all at least I don’t see that very often yeah so at our local level I think it happens a little more um at the higher levels it doesn’t seem to happen as much what I’ve what I’ve seen it feels like and it’s not any particular area of the area I came from the area I’m in here like they all seem to kind of have the same thing it’s not like a malicious and intent it’s not like somebody gets in the the leader position and it’s like oh yeah I’m filled with power here I’m gonna just keep this forever it’s more like the end of the term comes and nobody wants to [  ] do it and they’re like I guess I’ll do it another year and it’s like you get stuck there five years and there is none of this turning over and it does kind of become your personality and it’s like I don’t think it’s on purpose but yeah it’s not working very well I don’t think no and so I’ve come to understand that at least for myself and my application of you know service work is that that’s a lack of faith you know and I’ve had service positions the same like it’s gotten to the end of the term and I’m like my terms getting ready to be up and nobody else is going to do it and I’ve actually said well I won’t be here next month to do this so it won’t happen if somebody doesn’t step up yeah and that can sound kind of selfish you know what I mean for me to be like I don’t give a [  ] but it’s not that I don’t give a [  ] it’s that if I stay there No One’s Gonna step up if I step out it you know at the time it was the literature chair which is a boring job that nobody wants to do it doesn’t get you a lot of notoriety it actually everyone’s always wanting [  ] from you and yeah you know you’re never doing it right you know it’s a thankless type of job and so nobody wanted to do it and I just said well the stuff will all be here next month like it’s I won’t or I won’t be here doing this I’ll do something else and it worked out you know somebody did it and it got taken care of and they figured it out and I was willing to help I mean I said if they got questions whatever right I’ll be around but I’m not gonna do it I feel like if we take that though because that that requires somebody to do something that maybe isn’t programmed into them or that they’re used to right like a lot of us and tying it back into this idea of like when you said your first sponsor kind of said we all had the same last name and we act like a family what I was thinking was Jesus no wonder I got it all [  ] up right right oh God somebody gave me the idea this should have family Dynamics like my family and and I acted like that right that wasn’t good um but coming from a family where it was like my responsibility or it felt like my responsibility for everybody else’s emotional well-being and for everything to stay on track yeah I’m gonna have a tough time stepping away from a position because my body is going to give me that same thing it gave me in my family right if you don’t do this there’s a problem coming yeah that’s not good that’s scary um well I’m aware of that and not to get too far off into the service stuff but where that can get a little scarier so you know I’ve done some work in hni the hospitals and institutions where we go out to outside facilities to do stuff and it’s a little scarier when you step down from those positions that you feel like won’t get filled because that’s the face of our fellowship right you know in these actual organizations in the recovery community so it’s like oh is somebody gonna do it like what and what if they don’t for three or four months and we don’t have these meetings happening like but again I and I just recently had this conversation with somebody you know who’s looking to step down because their commitment’s done and they’re like I don’t know you know if I should and I feel guilty I’m like look you have done your commitment like that’s what you said you would do you showed up and did exactly what you committed to do and now that time is up and you know if it’s not an inconvenience to do and you want to continue it that is one thing but you’re saying it’s not and you’re going to keep it out of some obligation and I would say don’t yeah but anyway but that gets back to the anonymity it’s like that individual is not responsible for that the entire fellowship and their representation in the community we as a fellowship we as a our local you know Susquehanna area whatever we want to call ourselves we’re responsible for that not this one individual like that [  ] guy did what he was supposed to do he’s done he’s he’s did his time or if you want to say it that way you know right he’s not the face of the fellowship for that facility he’s that’s so hard to feel though even though people can tell us that you know yeah um so I don’t know you want to jump into some of these quotes from the literature there’s a there’s a whole [  ] yeah sure okay so I started with the basic text I think these are from that one uh first one our common welfare should come first our text explains that this Unity of purpose helps us to achieve the true Spirit of anonymity where all of us are equal as members of the group maybe this is the time where you should tell us about the Dual meaning of anonymity or it seems like at least the Dual purposeness of it in her program yeah so there’s two uh to me like almost different ideas of anonymity you know one obviously is the like the the Public Image type thing where it’s like we don’t say our names you know I am and the rules are very weird it’s like I don’t say my first and last name and then mention the fellowship I can say my first name and mention the fellowship but I can’t show my face you know there’s always like technicalities around that [ __ ] right but the concept is you can use your initials but don’t show any tattoos yeah it’s like but the concept is this this public uh outside representation in whatever Fellowship I don’t do that I don’t represent myself as a member in public showing my name and my face or speak on behalf of or any of that kind of stuff um I guess that also encompasses the the idea that what goes on inside the meetings I guess that’s actually a third one I would say it’s like there’s that concept of like who you see or what goes on or what people talk about in meetings is not supposed to be talked about outside of meetings that’s another you know idea around anonymity and then the idea that we’re all equal that we’re all the same that we’re all together and that we’re all supposed to be you know uh on the same level you know we don’t have leaders and or I shouldn’t say we don’t have leaders we do have leaders we don’t have uh chair people or

like dictators yeah yeah we all make the decisions together this idea of group conscience we all work in like a group conscience that everybody’s input is equally valued and equally shared right right yeah that is a God and that seems very different than I’m not supposed to talk to a newspaper reporter right or I’m not supposed to tell people who I saw and what they talked about yeah eating like good Lord yeah that’s a lot to take in so I guess there’s a lot of room to practice anonymity then based on three different directions um well and it’s interesting sometimes if you think all right so it’s the spiritual Foundation of all of our traditions and it’s like if you go through each tradition like they don’t seem so clearly linked you know what I mean like one of our Traditions is our primary purpose and the other one’s about you know we don’t endorse your financer lend our name out like what do those two things have to do with each other right but yet they both Encompass this idea of anonymity but in completely different ways yeah yeah God we’ll probably come back to that through some of these because a lot of these uh quotes are out of the traditions because that’s where it seems to come into play more I guess maybe the more idea of we over I yeah um and you could almost go through each tradition and pick out you know the anonymity part of that and it’ll look and sound very different you know even though we’re using the same word or concept and and there’s one of these quotes I think if I’m remembering correctly that I pulled out that talked about the spiritual principles that were encompassed in anonymity or from it it was weird it just seemed bad I was like those don’t match up at all so maybe when we get there we’ll stand out again um so our common welfare coming first and Unity of purpose helps us achieving the true Spirit of anonymity I guess that’s this idea of like equality across like Unity of purpose helps us have the true Spirit of anonymity so I guess the true Spirit of anonymity is that we’re all working towards the same thing and none of our contributions individually matter more than anybody else’s yeah is that the truth and the spirit of our input and opinion as members matters who you know this idea of you know group conscience that we half the time I feel like gets ignored because we just you know in our service structures especially I haven’t seen this as much in home groups although I’ve never been like in a big city where there was 38 30 yeah home group members but you know there’s just you know three pros three cons call for a vote you know and that’s very different than the idea of like antonym to me is very different than the idea of like anonymity and group conscience and every member has an input and we value you know we weigh those things out and then we come to a decision together as a whole right right you know well and I think part of what this is addressing you know when we talk about the the equality or equalness of us all under the idea of anonymity right it’s like okay two guys walk into a meeting one cleans the bathrooms at McDonald’s one is a brain surgeon right I’ll give that all that uh glamor that it’s supposed to be you know the brain surgeon he’s really important but like when they walk into the meeting they’re not it’s not a brain surgeon and a guy that cleans the bathrooms at McDonald’s it’s just two guys right equal right and then also uh the same idea of like in the program right just because somebody’s been here 30 years and done a lot of stuff that doesn’t make their opinion any more important than the person with 10 days who’s just trying to figure it out right again that equality like it takes away almost any factor that could make one person better than another it kind of like takes the ego out of it I guess yeah you know hmm [Music] thank you

[Music] foreign [Music] throughout our traditions we speak in terms of we and our rather than me and mine by working together for our common welfare we achieve the true Spirit of anonymity we have heard the phrase principles before personality so often that it is like a cliche while we may disagree as individuals the spiritual principle of anonymity makes us all equal as members of the group no member is greater or lesser than any other member the drive for personal gain in the areas of sex prosperity and social position which brought so much pain in the past Falls by the wayside if we adhere to the principle of anonymity anonymity is one of the basic elements of our recovery and it pervades our traditions and our fellowship it protects us from our own defects of character and renders personalities and their differences powerless anonymity in action makes it impossible for personalities to come before principles what do you make all that yeah yeah principles before personality I don’t know we have specialized meetings like I I have always hated the idea of principles before personalities not the idea necessarily but like I don’t feel like that tells me what I’m supposed to be learning about anonymity are the Traditions personally well and there’s one interest so funny enough in the the one of the pieces of literature I read about that from AA they described like basically criminal activity and said like if somebody’s doing like criminal [  ] like you should turn them in and I guess what that made me think of is we’ve had people in our area you know that have done some pretty predatory stuff you know when it comes to young men or young women that are influential and I think we sometimes use this idea of anonymity is like we’re not supposed to really say anything or we’re supposed to kind of turn the other cheek you know and I don’t think that’s right at all you know so there is a balance there of like yeah we’re all in this together we’re all you know equal but you’re still responsible for the [  ] that you do like we can’t let that idea Cloud our judgment as far as you know protecting each other from predators you know protecting our own members from from harm so let me give a scenario that takes the the what sounds like sexual predator out of it because that’s a motion building one right there there was a money stolen right and I guess that can still bring up some emotions but maybe less it’s more stuff no person necessarily was directly harmed by it but the area I came from our Treasurer about 10 years ago right after another Treasurer had stolen money we had a treasure for a few years and then it turned out they had stolen some money too and then they got in contact with this individual there was it was done very interestingly where only one member was meeting with them which is a whole other thing that was confusing and but they were they was this debate you know do we press the charges or do we not and like on the one side people were saying like hey we you know principles for personalities we should let this go we don’t want to do any harm to the individual this that and the other by pressing charges and the other argument was we don’t know if we’re doing more harm by not pressing charges yeah well and that’s immediately when you say principles before personalities we don’t press charges I’m like wait what that doesn’t make any sense because that’s not my principles like my principles are if you make a mistake you own that [  ] and you’re accountable for it you know so my principles would say you press charges if the person’s not paying the money back you know like or whatever like you that’s what you but anyway that I digress yeah that that’s what I mean though we use this idea of this principles before personality it’s like we take that to turn the other cheek and look the other way and not hold people accountable for things that they’re doing and I think that’s wrong you know I think that’s a misuse of that phrasing and a misuse of that idea well and you would even love that I’m pretty sure the group conscience that followed with the vote uh I’m pretty sure there was like five or six people that weren’t actually gsrs at the meeting that just voted the way this one powerful member wanted to vote and it went that way so yeah okay if they voted it wasn’t a group conscience but whatever there you go there you go um yeah this is a it’s a lot in here but yeah I guess the the idea of principles before personalities are those word those words put together does not give me what I feel like I’m supposed to get out of that idea like to me that and maybe that’s why we all use it wrong because that’s a terrible way to say the message we’re trying to give across with those words like if I think of principles before personalities I think okay um yeah we want to work for our common good no matter you know how much people annoy me that doesn’t completely give what I think I’m supposed to be getting out of this long ass paragraph that talks about like a whole other ideas right like working together and this equality and and not just that like oh I gotta tolerate or put up with this these people I don’t like in order to get where we’re trying to go but like also these people should be included I want to welcome them in I want to listen to them and take their information into account yeah and to me that idea of principles before personalities has always been like I am willing to listen to people I’m willing to be open to ideas I’m willing to not be like oh you’re that you know Trump Republican [  ] so anything you say is you know of no value or you’re that Biden you got a Biden sticker on your car so [  ] you don’t matter you know what I mean or your opinion’s stupid you obviously don’t know anything about how to run anything you know like that kind of [  ] and it’s like we don’t get caught up in that stuff and we let each member you know give them the respect to like say what they want to say and be a part of and inclusive doesn’t mean we do what they want or that they’re right it just means you know the principle is that we’re honest that we’re open-minded that we’re you know willing to to be to allow them to be a part of the group which which to me and and I guess it sort of kind of gives that same Vibe as anonymity but it feels different because it feels just more like hey you’re welcome here right not so much that I don’t know well that I think is closer to what we should be saying well it’s more like I guess for me though when I hear principles before personalities it’s like hey you’re welcome here but I don’t get the vibe of like I really want to listen to you or or be open to what you’re saying it’s just like all right I’ll tolerate that you’re here and not tell you you have to leave basically you know what I mean it’s not really that I want to include you I guess it’s more that I’m oh I’ll do the right thing by putting principles before personalities and just Overlook all that [  ] over there like and that doesn’t feel like what we’re saying in this principle at all um moving on to the it works how why when we apply anonymity to the first tradition we Overlook the differences that would separate us in the context of unity anonymity means that the message of recovery is for every addict who wants it we learn to set aside our prejudices and focus on our common identity as addicts ah some part of me wonders if this was like written because of the the the time frame it was in like part of the idea of anonymity maybe not the whole concept like you said there’s there’s three different parts at least that we figured out this morning but like that reads almost like hey stop not letting black people and women into your meetings yeah that’s what that reads like and I’m like is this something from 1930s that we needed back then and maybe isn’t as relevant right now um I mean I I would say it is still irrelevant yeah because even think of you know people that do different drugs I mean at some level we just keep creating new fellowships for Pacific Pacific specific drugs and you know it’s like at what point do we Encompass that all into just addiction and yeah but whatever um yeah I mean you can have people that feel like oh this drug is worse or that Drug’s not as serious or you know what I was doing was way different than what you were doing you know my bottoms were way worse I mean I stole from stores I didn’t sell my ass right right that kind of stuff and you know we’re that’s a case where we are not practicing anonymity you know what I mean we’re not saying wow the the pain and harm that you suffered is equal to the pain and harm that I suffered like it’s not meant to be a competition it’s meant to come from a place of like compassion and understanding and connection right right I don’t know I guess this this feeling like applying anonymity of the first tradition overlooking differences that would separate us that that feels like almost fourth thing or something you know what I mean like that doesn’t even feel like the three we talked about um all right the next one spiritual principle of anonymity reminds us that we are all equal in Narcotics anonymity there’s no one member or group has a monopoly on the knowledge of a higher power’s will we practice anonymity by offering our love attention and respect to everyone regardless of our personal feelings toward any individual ooh maybe that’s the one I read damn we practiced anonymity by offering our love attention and respect so like all the times I’ve heard about anonymity and practice and I’m not saying that I wasn’t doing some of those things to people to just try to be a good person I guess that is not what I thought anonymity was and like you said I’m thinking about not telling people I’m in nna or or all these things I am not thinking about this idea that I’m practicing it by offering love attention and respect to everyone that’s weird yeah well and I mean I hate to say what you just said there took me out a little bit to somewhere else in left field but it’s like I feel like now because of trying to do that in the fellowship like I try to do that [  ] in my life in general you know what I mean when I go into whatever you know Wawa to get a coffee and the ladies behind the counter like I’m respectful of that person hey how you doing you know how’s your day I’ll chat with people you know and just whatever oh I like your shirt you know that’s a cool shirt or whatever and I just try to treat people with respect and love and compassion you know like I would anyone else no matter of what job they’re doing or what role they’re certain I try but definitely not perfect at it and it’s interesting you know my kids and I had a conversation about that and I can’t remember what it came up from it might have been like a waitress at a restaurant or whatever and it’s like you see people that are just disrespectful of other people feel like their status is different uh feel like that they’re from a different side of the track so to speak and that stuff does happen within our fellowship you know it does happen where you know they look down on certain people from a certain area or we you know think they don’t have a right to be involved in service at a certain level you know it’s sad so what’s your what’s your kind of going towards now is where I thought this morning like anonymity could be a fun conversation because I do feel like this is uh uh I guess the direction I’m moving in my life in the world too you know like this idea of like lowering my ego to the point where it doesn’t feel so personally offensive or attacking for others when they’re not greeting me or or interacting with me in ways I’m used to I guess you know what I mean like yeah people have bad days man and maybe I can have a little more understanding if they got an attitude right like maybe I don’t have to it does not about me it’s not about why do you have an attitude with everybody maybe it’s just me and that that must be tough for them like I don’t think they want to feel that way right like but there’s been so little ability or space in in me because of how I felt internally to even think through all that it was just like oh my God I feel like so much ass inside that’s the only thing I can focus on is me feeling better and somebody giving me this attitude or or an answer I don’t like I just don’t have any space for anything else but to hate them or to be angry or and and I guess that’s where I what I see in our world a lot is is this like this frustration of nobody having the the internal space to consider what’s going on for anybody else it’s always just what you did to me yeah and I don’t I mean I hate to say I’m probably a little more shallow than that in my application of this but I think of like my neighbor the one that’s weed whacking right now probably um so you know my neighbor I don’t know how to say this like she’s the grumpy mean lady in the neighborhood like she’s constantly putting up signs like stay off my lawn get off my wall she’s mean to the kids out front oh bounce the ball or play out front she’ll come out and yell at him not on her prop you know it’s just it’s weird she’s that person you know somebody’s parking in my parking spot even though the parking spots aren’t labeled you know she doesn’t like people parking in front of her house it’s weird and so she’s just a grumpy mean lady stereotypical I don’t allow that to change how I treat her when I see her it’s always hey how you doing you know how’s your day and sometimes she’s nice to me and sometimes she uh you know whatever and we’ve had some issues you know I fence fell over in a windstorm one time and she backed into it like it didn’t fall on her car it fell over and she backed into it and then she came over and told me that I should pay for her car and I just said oh I know you know what I mean like I didn’t feel like it was my fault it was one it was an act of nature that did it you can turn it into your insurance if you want but two defense didn’t fall on your car it was up the wind blew it over and you ran into it so whatever but even now like I don’t like oh she’s a [  ] and I hate her and you know I’m still nice to her when I see her if she’s out there I’ve went over and gave my hand with little projects and stuff because they are older people right um you know I try to be nice when I see the husband all the time but for me it’s like I just treat them the way that I would want to treat anyone you know it doesn’t mean I necessarily love them like I they’re whatever if I didn’t see him again I probably wouldn’t ever think of them again but when I see them or when I interact with them I still have like love and compassion no matter who they are I’m who I am because of who I am not I change who I am based on who I’m interacting with right right I I love that and it’s great as long as you’re walking away feeling good about the guy you are right because I could see times in my life at least where I’d have walked away from that feeling resentful or like God damn it or why’d I go over there and help them their [  ] you know what I mean like I’d be doing the right thing and still feeling bad about it and maybe that’s something we don’t talk about on here enough like if you’re doing the quote-unquote right thing according to whatever program or recovery you’re working and it feels like [  ] every time like maybe don’t do that maybe go seek some more information so and I share this with people all the time but I think this to me is the the goal of recovery is to figure out what my values and morals are and the person that I want to be and then try to be that person intentionally right you know what I mean it’s not to be some cookie cutter of I’m supposed to do this this and this to get to the [  ] Gates of Heaven or whatever like it’s it’s the concept of I figure out what is most important to me and I guess to tie this back to anonymity like between me and you those things could be different and you still have every right to have whatever your values and morals are and you can maybe place your values on certain morals higher than mine or I can place some values higher than yours and I don’t have to be right it doesn’t make me any better than you it just means this is what touches my heart this is what gives me purpose and meaning and value in my life so I’m going to try to do this with intention and maybe those differences are what make our our fellowship I would say and our communities like beautiful is it different people focus more on different things certain people are way more compassionate towards others so they’re way more driven to service and you know helping others and fixing a community other people it might be art like they’re just driven to create and to to make something new or to bring something back to life and that brings something beautiful and valuable and once is not better than the other or ones you know this is more valued than that it’s like they all serve a purpose yes I like all those ideas I guess the the thing that I I’m and this is where I just keep trying to figure out like what did I miss along the way like where is it that I missed the idea that I’m supposed to feel better inside or be happier or enjoy life more like where where did I miss that and how can I help other people that feel like me in that situation now not wait as long to find it that’s what I’m always trying to do and I’m like picture and what you just said and like I think I knew that and yet it still felt like there was certain ways you had to be in order to be right or good you know what I mean there was like oh you’re not acting in principles but were we looking at all the information all the underlying mechanisms and everything that was going on to really understand that or was I just still going around saying [  ] I still can’t do the good thing so to speak and now I still feel like [  ] about me yeah well our society doesn’t uh encourage or reward the ideas of uh what I’m going to call anonymity uniqueness uh being authentic like those things aren’t typically highly valued you know within our society at least not when it comes to like school or work or whatever it’s like what’s encouraged is to like come in do XYZ you know get your paycheck and go home or come in do XYZ get your good grade and go home and the idea of like thinking outside the box is not encouraged so much you know typically this could play out well think of the 12-step programs in the 80s Billy or even maybe the 90s when when we came around like sit down shut the [  ] up yeah that’s what we wanted everywhere in our society and I think it’s still what we want right come in do your job don’t [  ] annoy anybody don’t deviate from the process let’s all just do this but here’s the thing and I think that’s where maybe uh this is crossing over to like life for me and this point is we don’t have a Unity of purpose necessarily but what we do but the unity of purpose is everybody get as much as you can for yourself that’s become our capitalistic purpose and that’s where I think I’m running through my day trying to get as much as I can for myself and what I’m running into I just thought of this the other day I’m going to title my autobiography this uh there’s all these [  ] humans and they’re always in my way yeah that’s what I’m running into right because my purpose has been what my world told me my purpose was accumulate gain Prosperity get power get money get every all these things this is what your goal is in life the one who gets the most toys wins right whatever like and I guess in that I I lost the idea that the most important thing to me is [  ] life yeah and it’s funny like to me it wasn’t even necessarily about winning it was the idea that all that stuff was going to make me happy or that that’s what I needed to be to feel good about myself you know I needed all these outside things and there wasn’t a clear message that like no get in touch with what speaks to your heart get in touch with what you know makes you feel valuable and then try to do that you know that was the message that we’re missing I think we still are you know there’s still some level of like success for people is this measurable thing that you know we can put grades or numbers or letters to to tell you how well you’re doing it life and it’s like you can’t that’s that’s not a thing when you have however many you know 100 million individual people in the U.S let alone the world right you know that all are just different you know just slightly different and you can put them into some kind of groups probably but even that’s takes away from the beauty of again I go back to me I go back to that idea of anonymity is because you know we’re all unique and special and different and if we start trying to lump or categorize each other into like groups or subsets we do a disservice to that individual that’s standing right in front of us you know or the people that we interact with on a daily basis right I guess I’m just picturing maybe this does kind of highlight uh for me at least the importance of having a Unity of purpose right just thinking about that idea in in the world right now and maybe we’re going left field whatever that’s what the [  ] we do Billy I’m taking you there so okay if our Unity of purpose right now is everybody find their happiness and stuff and relationships and Prestige and all these money property and Prestige right the things that take us from our primary purpose if that’s all of our Unity of purpose individually and what we’re all kind of working towards that creates a world that looks like what we have now right this person cut me off I’m mad at them this person got in my way I’m mad at them this person kept me from getting the job I want this person totaled me and I got fired this blah blah blah blah it’s all the [  ] that other people are doing to us that prevents us from getting to that purpose we’ve decided right money property and Prestige whatever it is if we were to change our societies Unity of purpose overnight if we could do that if we could snap our fingers tonight Billy and we all wake up tomorrow in the unity of purposes life life matters to me like how would that change how we interacted as a group right we would say well okay that guy cut me off but life is more important I just want to be safe we’re all alive let’s keep going maybe whatever or hey you know what I do like going to Starbucks and getting a coffee and I like going and shopping but the fact is that all these 18 wheelers delivering all these products everywhere actually kills a [  ] ton of life every year right like deers raccoons armadillos whatever right do I care enough about that is that more important than the coffee I want to get on demand at Starbucks I don’t know right but it just changes everything in my mind and that’s where I feel like damn Unity of purpose really is kind of important and maybe that’s good that the fellowship tries to have one I guess yeah and I’m more optimistic towards people like I I tend to think most people are just trying to be content and happy in their life they’re not necessarily going out saying I’m gonna get more for me like they’re not as selfish they’re more about I just want to live my life and be happy and I just want to you know take care of my family and I think their goals and ideas are good I think are Society through advertising and misdirection and almost sleight of hand has sort of tricked a lot of people into this idea that more stuff is going to make you happy or that more stuff is the thing that you you know right this more stuff is what’s going to make you happy this Disney vacation package that your neighbors all have like there look how [  ] happy they are smiling their kids are all excited I’m going in October Billy and I’m dreading and then you go to Disney and you see like that’s like one percent of the families are running around all smiling with the [  ] Mickey Mouse ears and everything else frustrated the other efforts like kids are breaking down [  ] because you ate too much candy apple I was walking everybody’s miserable and tired [  ] you’re fast passes one side of the park to the other and it’s like yeah it’s [  ] crazy but you know that advertising and that conception is like man I can’t wait it’s going to be so great when we get to this Disney vacation and it’s not that like I’m you know thinking like [  ] everybody else I’m just going to Disney you know [  ] you right right it’s that that’s what’s gonna bring me happiness yeah and we get uh stuck in that but I think we do actually share a Unity of purpose most people do like in in these studies and things that they do people like uh what things bring them happiness or or at like end of life studies when they do like surveys and stuff you hear like a lot of people have a lot of very common thoughts and ideas about what we’re supposed to be doing what we’re trying to do where we’re trying to go what we’re trying to get at the end of our life we’re just like and me included like we just get caught up in the day-to-day [  ] and get misguided misdirected yeah no I actually 100 believe and agree with everything you just said I don’t think it’s like a malicious Thing by people I just think that we have been bamboozled man we’ve been fooled we’ve we’re all living this very disconnected very uh not mindful kind of mindless really and I don’t mean to call that like stupid just just Mindless like we’re not actively thinking about everything we don’t think about all the trash we throw away and what that’s actually doing to our world we don’t think about all the animals that get [  ] run over delivering our coffee supplies and our clothing that we buy like we don’t understand the unintended byproducts or side effects of the things that we’re trying to do to pursue happiness and so yeah we’re all we’re all kind of fooled all this advertising billion spent in Psychology research to know how to trick people’s brains like right and and for what for what what is our Unity of purpose like it’s great that we all had and I and honestly I think what you’re saying really speaks to God you’re getting me all excited over here it speaks to what I believe is happening right now is that we’re all living out of tune with what we actually believe because of all this advertising which is why we’re all angry and mad and depressed and anxious and obese and you know all these things are taken off because it’s the reaction to living in a way that’s not in tune with what actually matters to you I think you’re right I think if we could somehow wake everybody up yeah we’d all agree on the same things no life matters more than than the [  ] coffee or the clothing or any of that and why are we living this way and what’s wrong with us right but how do we how do we do that how do we get there right like and that’s I guess the question that we’re all asking how do we get back to this place where we’re not just going and doing all these daily things every day so much and then the end result is you know Jeff Bezos has billions and and Elon Musk has billions and that’s great but is that really advancing us as a society is that really getting us closer to where we all truly believe we want to be which I don’t think it is so and this gets back to the like values and I have to figure out what mine are and of course I hate to say this but right now my values aren’t fixing the [  ] world my values are spending quality time with my family making the best I can out of what we got now and you know like are those things problems yeah when I look at our political [  ] you know next presidential election like everybody else do I want to [  ] throw up in my own mouth when I think of like Jesus Christ this is what we got and this is what we’re electing and this is what we’re doing like this is [  ] gross and I now more than ever in my life make a conscious choice to be like is that what I want to be worrying about or do I want to talk about like what me and my wife are going to do when I get home from work or what we’re going to have for dinner and yeah play around with those ideas and whatever listen to some political radio [  ] when I’m on my ride to work or whatever but it’s yeah that shit’s overwhelming and it’s like my I don’t have it in me to start to run a run for local politics to even begin to want to address the kind of work it’s going to take to fix that problem I don’t think politics and again I don’t know for everyone else but like for me it’s like okay well you know I have my kids and my family and we live our life and our you know friends that are around and in the next couple of years I have some goals to like get a property and go do some more sustainable type living and to live my life a little more purposeful geared towards the things that I want to do versus going to a nine to five job every week and I’m okay with that I I’m not fixing the world you know what I mean I disagree I think you are fixing the government I’m [  ] yeah I don’t I don’t know my take on it is that is the biggest part of fixing the world man if we could all do that and find our happiness there wouldn’t be much to fix right you know what I mean so that’s the place we start I think and that’s much more of my focus I’ve thought over the last three months I wanna I don’t know if I want to start up a new podcast or redo my old you know gonna kick tomorrow podcast and Rebrand it but like I’m like oh man I got things to say and I think people might find some Comfort or usefulness in those things and yet I have not been able to get out of the way of my own happiness to to do it right I’m like I’m pretty happy oh and this is this is a little way off but it’s interesting so my daughter just well both of them just graduated high school but that’s a whole nother conversation my one daughter’s 21. right it’s just graduated got her diploma everybody keeps asking so what are you gonna do now and we’re like I don’t know she’s like I don’t know and I’m to her I’m like you know what do whatever the [  ] you want you’re a good kid you can live here you got a place to stay what you want I mean you know she helps us out she does and I don’t even feel like I need to justify that I don’t care if I want to [  ] enable my kid to do nothing like that’s what I want to do yeah and I like having them around they’re good people I like hanging out with them like I don’t give a [  ] if they go start some career to be quote unquote successful and we push that idea to them like I’m gonna go check some things out try some different stuff see what you like see if you can find something that you want to do maybe not I don’t know don’t pressure yourself to go be something that you feel like all these outside pressures want you to be just do you and we’ll figure it out you know yeah I mean at some point you’re going to have to have some kind of income to take care of your life probably because me and mom might not be able to do it forever right but maybe we will I mean I had a funny I I thought you know growing up and just teaching kids like you need to be independent and do all that [  ] you know what that’s a concept that poor people push on their kids because most of the time we can’t afford to just support them to do nothing right I wish somebody would have gave me that message dude I might be half as depressed as I am yeah and that’s you know with both my kids I’m like everybody’s like what are you gonna do I don’t know they’re gonna do whatever the [  ] they want go run around do a little traveling [  ] hang out I it cares like anonymity they’re gonna live life like they’re gonna have fun right that’s what they should be doing right I don’t know if they can do it how they want I stuck myself into this rat trap I make enough that they don’t have to like I don’t give them what the [  ] they want so they don’t have to get stuck here and you know but it’s interesting but that’s the con and this is people that love them and care about them I mean it’s like their grandparents and relatives but that’s the message that we get from society yeah that’s all we’ve been taught and all we know how to do so anyway yeah we got a little but I think that stuff is important man I think you know this is the the kind of practice of these principles that I want to have in my life my own uh you know yeah I guess other people can do their own thing as long as it’s not bothering me or hurting my family or anything like people can have this right to sort of do what they want like you said there’s a beauty in that when it doesn’t all look the same another quote in the spirit of anonymity we remember that no individual member or group is more important than the message we carry the single requirement for membership helps ensure that no addict need die with having a chance to recover this is interesting especially thinking about what we just said like I kind of think no matter whether we have a specific message like okay the n a program has a specific message right that any Ada can stop using lose the desire to use and find a new way to live yes so that is our specific message right and that kind of Keeps Us on task and we can have a paragraph like this in our literature that says hey remember no individual or group is more important than the fact that we get this life-saving message to other people right when you don’t have a specific message like you know the United States we don’t necessarily have a specific message and yet we do and that’s where I think you know something we haven’t really thought about or looked at or I haven’t really thought about or looked at is this idea that like when there is no message there is but I’m just not seeing it right and and we’re talking about what that message is how much are you going to do how much are you going to succeed how much money are you going to make how many things are you going to be able to buy what neighborhood will you be able to live in like what schools will you be able to send your children to what life of privilege or can you get to basically and it’s like that’s the message yeah well that and I do think that we are a little more nefarious in some of that in our messaging in that uh we have this you know the American dream work hard and now you realize that’s all [  ] yeah that’s not a real thing right it’s not anymore maybe at one point it was but even back then I don’t think it really was it’s always been a you know country of opportunity and and when I say opportunity not opportunity for everyone opportunity for the people that had access and you know people that could get through The Gatekeepers and the you know occasionally an outlier found a way to jump the fence but for the most part you know we kept people in their statuses of where they’re meant to be right right but told them all the way hey just work hard and you’ll get there work hard and you can be whatever you want to be yeah none of y’all got there you did work hard so our messaging was [  ] but we told people our primary purpose was was not true right right and and I think we’re all still kind of feeling the repercussions of that many many years later um when we observed the spirit of anonymity we seek nothing other than to carry the recovery message to the addict who still suffers so if we observe the spirit of anonymity we have no other goals other than to carry the recovery message to the addict it still suffers yeah and so interesting what I think about in that stuff and this is where our fellowship struggles I think sometimes especially for newer members I think it’s getting better but it’s uh people that are actively using or people that are on a maintenance program or whatever else it’s like we’ll sometimes be more harsh on them you know making a judgment that you know they’re not doing the program right or that you know they’re doing it wrong or they’re recovering wrong you know and and it’s this idea that you know we have this program and we’re doing this thing but it doesn’t give us a right to place these judgments or criticisms on other people these are still other suffering addicts just like us they just want relief they just help and again I’m not necessarily saying we changed the whole program to accommodate these different Pathways but at the same time we don’t use our Pathway to justify uh degrading or belittling these people that have made other choices and if we have any sense of you know anonymity we treat them with love and compassion and respect and help them find what they need or you know right to where they’re trying to go yeah that was part of that that came up for me reading some of these uh and anonymity quotes this morning was this idea of what you’re talking about right here like where are we missing this in the ways we treat people maybe on maintenance you know what I mean that was the one thing that came out because I think that’s a a struggle area or at least it was a struggle area I think sometimes even in people that relapse oh you know what I mean like thinking somebody’s been around a long time and they use it’s like all of a sudden oh they didn’t know [  ] oh my God it’s like strip away their service commitments strip away their titles strip away whatever you know and it’s just it’s weird it’s it’s like well not to get you off your points all right no no no I just thinking about that like that fear response yeah you know it’s it’s almost like the fear is those things are so powerful that we gotta go really really far away from it or we’re in danger too that’s what it feels like the fear response is like we we got to get that yeah it can’t be near us or something like well at least for me and I think well-intentioned but misguided a lot of my personal uh Hang-Ups or resentments with maintenance programs early on into some effects still now are that these are the medical industry slash pharmaceutical company just capitalizing on addicts in a new way you know and that part is a little bit like uh [  ] them people like they’re the ones that got us here in the first place you know even though that’s not really true but you know it’s like they’re just gonna again capitalize on our Misfortune by creating a new substance to get you on on a daily basis and it might be better but it’s still you know they’re finding a way to capitalize on it and that part annoys me some but I’ve had to separate that out to be like that attitude still can present in a really negative way towards the individuals that make those choices and I’d rather just let that [ __ ] go than to come off as being hard or critical towards people that are choosing different Pathways in me [Music]

thank you I feel like you just said the unity of purpose in our society by accident maybe we just stumbled across it it’s taking advantage of people’s misfortune that’s the unity of purpose amongst the uh the rich it seems capitalized in the dollar sign oh here’s the one about the rotating leadership to enforce the anonymity of tradition 9 our groups service boards and committees practice various systems of rotating leadership so that no one personality ever dominates I have I don’t know it depends on what they say of uh various systems of rotating leaders yeah that’s what I was going to say that can be yeah I saw a guy for five years yeah I believe like in the upper levels of service I believe five years is a like a commitment term like it’s a five-year commitment term but you’re talking about like World board type members and stuff like that like these are people that are making executive type decisions you know anyway but yeah the rotating forms is where it gets to be interesting here you go Narcotics Anonymous is not a secret society tradition 11 speaks to personal anonymity not Fellowship anonymity the better known we are by the public the more likely it is that addicts seeking recovery or their friends relatives or co-workers will think of us and know where to find us when they decide to seek help there we go we’re doing a service bill by doing this podcast all right here’s one anonymity is essential in preserving the stability of our fellowship making personal recovery possible recovery is a delicate thing it grows best in a stable supportive environment each of us and each of our groups plays a part in maintaining that stability our Unity is so precious that given a choice between fulfilling our own wishes and preserving our fellowships common welfare we put the best interests of n a first we do this not only out of enlightened self-interest but out of our sense of responsibility to our fellow addicts the principle of Na Unity comes before the Fulfillment of our personal wishes that’s a weird one that feels very weird to me and also made me feel like it cultish it makes it very difficult to question an a you know what I mean like that doesn’t leave space to say are we sure we’re doing the right thing because we got to do the right thing for n a before our personal wishes or opinions and I’m like well so I would clarify with that that’s within the fellowship that doesn’t necessarily mean within my life you know like yeah that’s the way I would clarify that and the other side of that is it’s a voluntary program if I think it’s doing some [ __ ] that I don’t agree with that much I’ll leave you know what I mean no one makes me stay other than my ego or some kind of hubris you know at this point yeah yeah I’d agree with that but I guess I’m just thinking people with like you know three years six years ten years and when I was there in those time frames and thinking of this idea that like if my teaching was that I had to put n a’s messaging first or the best interests of n a first that might lead me to think I’m doing it wrong if it feels bad but just think there’s something wrong with me still because everybody else is just putting any first and they seem to be all right I mean it just taken that into context I think that sounds like something way more talking about in service or within the service structure uh I don’t know which part you pulled that out but the reason I say that is only because like when you’re at an area service meeting you know trying to place a fellowship ahead of our individual opinions could be very important you know in in how we represent our communities I mean I could have a very one opinion about

you know cigarettes or whether we should smoke at meetings or whatever else because of some personal experience and that doesn’t mean I get to go in and say that all of a sudden Narcotics Anonymous should consider smoking using you know like that kind of [  ] I would say for me especially looking at the the landscape of recovery in 2023 where there’s a lot of different ways that looks for different people um the first sentence of anonymity is essential in preserving the stability of our fellowship making personal recovery possible could have made me feel along the way or guided me to think something like my recovery is not possible without this program so I need to keep not doing the thing that I think makes the most sense to me and keep doing what n a wants me to do in that situation you know what I mean like because if not Christ I can’t recover without it I can’t let the whole stability of the program go I don’t know it just feels like maybe there’s not enough room for me to seek what feels like it might work better I guess which I get it like in the early messaging of of our programs it’s don’t listen to your internal thoughts and feelings so it’s like even now I still go back to like yeah and I felt like I really needed that in the beginning like like couldn’t trust my [  ] feelings and judgments I needed that because I didn’t have different information that might have helped me better right right I’ll say that you know there might have been something else that could have been given oh yeah there could have been another way except for that need and see that’s where I’ve grown in like these ideas of like other Pathways of recovery and other ways to do like I don’t think n a is the only way that works which at one time I used to think that it was I used to think you know this is the only thing that really works for addicts all these other things are just fluke anomalies and now I’m like well no there’s other things that really can help people and there’s other ways to get to the same place that I ended up getting right right you know it’s not like this isn’t the only way to get there it’s just I found this way and it worked yeah um maybe in sometimes clunkily you know like not so gracefully you know whatever but some some final thoughts from science the little bit I could find most of this dealt with the online world at this point with the idea of anonymity and you know the is anonymity making us worse as people versus all that good stuff um back in 1969 before the internet so to speak um we we found that there’s a tendency for people who are Anonymous to act more rudely aggressively or illegally when their faces or names are not shown or known so that’s a thing there’s also been studies recently that show some of the positive features of anonymity um you know it says just like face-to-face Gatherings and support groups such as the ones we we do a podcast about um the internet has offered people a chance to self-disclose and offer support without showing their faces or giving their real names um and and it talked a lot about you know group think and what happens when we get more Anonymous and how that can be dangerous and everything so there is some potential drawbacks to this idea of being more Anonymous at least that facet of being anonymous as we talked about today but I don’t know I think as a a good picture for me of what I’m trying to do it’s

more what’s right for me but that includes everybody and I don’t know how to say that better than that that sounds stupid but it’s like the more I get in tune with what feeling living a life that feels good to me looks like the more I realize that that takes into consideration all life uh and not just what I want and I guess that has been where this I feel like that’s the concept of anonymity in my in my world like yes I still want things but there’s more important factors and maybe that’s all of us and maybe that’s the community like if I want to weed whack at 7am on a Sunday morning I’m probably not gonna do it because people are generally relaxing and resting yeah I’ll wait till 10 or something you know and what do you think what is what is anonymity for you in your life now yeah I guess it’s way more General in that we’re all just here making our [  ] best go of this thing we call life and that I’m just here fumbling through it like everybody else you know what I mean making mistakes and getting a few things right and trying to figure it out you know and that everybody else around me that’s fumbling through it didn’t get the [  ] handbook either so we’re all just figuring it out sort of together and by taking that approach it’s like I it allows me to let people make mistakes let myself make mistakes um be more open to like say like things like my kids and them figuring this [  ] out and this their young adulthood and being like hey I get it hang on any more answers for you to what the [  ] you should be doing then you got um and there’s a piece in that you know what I mean because there used to be a time in my life where I felt like I have to know yeah well not only that I had to know but I had to figure it out and then there was some responsibility or obligation to do that and now it’s like oh no we did this and we tried that and it didn’t work out we tried this other thing and it didn’t work out and we tried this and it’s kind of working so let’s do that for a little while you know now I that’s probably not what I said but that’s exactly kind of the spot I’m into I don’t know exactly really really close man that’s pretty much what I’m doing just take the pressure off I don’t [  ] know what I’m doing yeah I’m making it up every day as I go and it’s fine and so much of that for me again a lot of these Concepts started in the fellowship at like a baby level you know what I mean like Hey we’re all equal and we’re all here together and we’re just trying to do a thing and we’re trying to whatever make this h i committee work or make this committee work and we make mistakes and I make mistakes and then realizing like oh [  ] that concept is much bigger than just this service body or whatever it’s like that’s a life thing you know we’re all doing that that’s funny because all I got out of that was we got to do this right and you guys are killing people not showing up you know what the [ __ ] is wrong with you

all right so go out there this week um figure out what anonymity means for you right not not just C anemone and like really think through this concept what does this mean in your life today and how do you work it and maybe this is the foundational piece of where we could all find a little more peace and happiness love everyone around you there it is love and respect have a good week foreign

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