One of the things about the meetings that I go to is that you can feel safe that no one is going to blab that we have seen you there, or talk about what you say.
"Who you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here."
Or at least, we aren't supposed to. A few conversations slip though the cracks. Even though we know it's wrong, we are human. And mostly, except when it is human gossip (NOT me...well), it is done out of concern.
It is important to know that I (we) would never run into Sally from the P.T.A. at the grocery store and tell her that you started at our 12-step meeting. I talk about my own recovery out loud to the outside, but I would never talk about anyone else's in that way.
The stuff we might say to one another, is if we notice someone isn't there for awhile. If anyone knows where he or she is. Maybe we would say. "Oh I saw her at Wednesday night's meeting and she seems fine." Or we might say, "she came late and left early Wednesday night and she seemed a little out of it."
Or if I were to notice a behavior change in one of my friends, I might bring it up to another friend. Worry about it. Talk about it. To me, this isn't gossip. Even though maybe it's well meaning gossip, done out of caring and loving my friends in the program.
These conversations do not happen during the meetings, they usually are done during fellowship before or after the meeting. And I am not saying they are right. They just can happen.
The beautiful and problematic thing with having a big group of alcoholic and addicted friends in recovery, is that we grow to love each other. Sometimes we leave, sometimes we come back. Sometimes we don't. When you've been going to meetings with another person for a few years, and they go back out there to do more drinking and drugging, it is hard. But it is a reality.
When I first walked in, (before the trip to Hazelden) one of my biggest fears was that I would see someone I knew. I wasn't so concerned about people knowing I liked to drink. It was the stigma of the cocaine and meth that scared the shit out of me. And that I was asking for help, shamed me even more. I just didn't want to see anyone I knew (other than the woman I knew who brought me there) because that was too personal.
Well, I did see someone I knew. And obviously, to protect that person's anonymity, I won't be able to give that beautiful story here. But I will say that the thing about seeing people we know, is that THEY are there too. And usually very happy to see us when we stroll in. It actually can help with their recovery, as the newcomer always does. They might know a little about us outside of those rooms but that can be very helpful. In my case, it was a huge gift and helped our family through some hard stuff.
So, that is all I have to say about that. We protect the anonymity of our fellows in the program. It is a safe place to come.