Is mentioning our sponsor’s name to other members, or telling a member the name of another member we had a conversation with breaking the Tradition of Anonymity? When I talk to my sponsor should I avoid mentioning other member’s names?
We are not meant to be anonymous to each other. The Eleventh Tradition states it is at the level of press, radio, TV or film. However, there seems to be an element of shame and secrecy about who we really are. And it is this element that keeps many of us anonymous. To the men and women I have sponsored, and the men and women I attend meetings with, I make it clear that they have my permission to tell anyone that I am in this program and they are free to use my full name, my phone numbers and any other information they deem helpful to anyone. Some years ago I got a call from a man in another state who had been to some meetings where I live. He had moved twice since then. He was in trouble and really needed to talk to someone. Mine was the only last name he knew and he was able to contact me. We talked about his situation and I got him in contact with some local S.L.A.A. members.
Regarding mentioning our sponsor’s name to another member; I see no violation of Tradition 11. My reasoning is this; I am not ashamed of my sponsor and am proud to be associated with him. Also, someone might be talking with me about finding a sponsor and I can recommend my sponsor to that person. Of course, I have to realize that there might be some sponsors who would not wish to have their identity revealed for some reason known only to them. In the case my sponsor asked that I not reveal his name, I am bound by respect to follow his request. Regarding mentioning other member’s names to m sponsor; I also find no violation in this case for the same reasons stated above. I just need to be careful not to share another’s personal stuff.
Regarding telling a member the name of another member we had a conversation with; I also see no violation of the Tradition in this situation, provided that I do not divulge personal information which should be held in confidence. I have found myself in the situation where I am discussing a subject with another member and recall a conversation and mentioning the name of the other member, if I remember it. The person whose name I mention could perhaps have a deeper understanding of the subject and could possibly be of more help.
I do respect the wishes of any member who would prefer to be anonymous. I also have no objection to telling outsiders, on a need to know basis, of my participation in S.L.A.A. These others will have knowledge of the person I used to be and, I believe, should know about this side of my life. The violation of anonymity, as I see it would be to divulge my identity or the identity of other members to the press, TV, radio, film, internet or any other form or public information. I do not look for other scenarios or try to read between the lines of the Tradition, I just read, believe and follow it as written.
If I am recommending my sponsor to another, I have to share his name. But if I am identifying a piece of advice as coming from my sponsor, I see no reason to give his specific name other than “my sponsor: My home group prefers to avoid specific names of places, people or things so that my message is as generic as possible so that others can relate. If I am spreading gossip, there is certainly no need to speak at all, and I especially need to avoid using names. Therefore, I recommend thinking before using specific names. I certainly recommend not using anonymity as a way to live in shame. I prefer to think of my anonymity as a way to stay humble rather than a way to cover up my shame.
Regarding this issue, I remember a sponsee who told me that she was careful never to tell her boyfriend my name. I asked her why. Her reply was very enlightening. She said there is a tendency to blame anything that he doesn’t agree with in the relationship on the sponsor. So recovery is just easier if he doesn’t have a specific target for his resentment. I hadn’t thought about it from this angle before. It made sense. It is also easy for addicts (or anyone for that matter) to hear a name and transfer blame to that person. If names are kept out of the equation, then we are able to focus on principles and not personalities (Tradition 12).
What do you think?
The CSTCC is a group of volunteers, some of whom were ABM delegates, and others who volunteered out of interest. We do not represent a group conscience of S.L.A.A., but are committed to bringing thoughtful discussion and study of 12 Step Fellowship literature and experience to the questions that are brought to us. We offer this summary as the results of our discussions. We present the major points of concern in the hopes that wider discussion in the Fellowship will help us evolve our customs and practice of the S.L.A.A. program of recovery to better represent the loving guidance of a Higher Power. Always, we affirm the autonomy of each group and the need for each individual to follow her/his own conscience. No decision of this group, or any other, is ever forced upon another, even when we believe a practice is clearly in conflict with the Steps, Traditions, or Concepts.