Quite often you will be at a meeting where someone will say that “they need to rat out on themselves”. They will proceed to talk about something which they did or said which they felt was inappropriate or wrong. When you examine this concept of “ratting out” it is really quite amazing. What is occurring is essentially a confession in public of a perceived wrong or impropriety. Where else in the world will you find a person publicly acknowledging a mistake. Certainly not in the world of politics or the work place. On this scale it is only found in the rooms of AA, NA, OA and other fellowships. What is even more amazing is that these so called “acknowledgements” are often seeing the light of day for the first time. In essence the person is describing something which no one else knew about. If they kept their mouth shut, their secret would have been safe. Yet they chose to open up and share. Why do they do it? Perhaps because in sobriety they no longer want to live with secrets. They no longer want to live with lies. Even if no else knows about their wrongdoing, this process helps them acknowledge it to them self. When they publicly admit a wrong, we can all be proud to be part of the program.
Personal Reflection: Is there anything I need to share at a meeting?
Perhaps the following has happened to you. You’re in the supermarket and see a beautiful bag of apples for sale. The skins are mottled with reds, greens and browns and they have a wonderful bouquet. You grab a bag of them and head for home. After lunch you cut one of the apples open and see that it is rotten to the core. What a drag. It was so beautiful on the outside and smelled so delightful, but it was essentially inedible.
Secrets are like that. Many of us look great from the outside. We might even be called a poster child for the program. We make meetings, call our sponsor and do service. But inside, all is not well. There are secrets which we have carried for years or even decades. We don’t talk about them. We are afraid that if you find out what we did in the past, you will stop being our friend, or have many judgements against us. Shame holds us back from sharing these secrets because we have some misguided idea about having to always be perfect.
When we finally take that step and begin to share those secrets, we usually experience a tremendous sense of relief. We have begun the process of separating ourselves from the secret and the person who created it. Each time we share, we help to create a new healthier persona.
Personal Reflection: Am I still carrying secrets?
For a long time we kept things to ourselves. We spent months and years sweeping everything under the carpet. By the time we were done, we metaphorically had a huge mound of “stuff” sitting in the center of the room under the rug. We might not have seen the mound, but it was obvious to everyone else. We also had to put a lot of effort into hiding our pile and it was quite painful for us to hold onto.
Today, we have other options. We can finally put our brooms away. When we encounter a problem, we can discuss it at a meeting. We can also make an outreach call to someone else in the program. Certain issues are best discussed one on one with our sponsors. Perhaps the greatest resource for us is being able to turn to our Higher Power. On a daily basis many of us pray for His assistance. The act of turning over our problems to the G-d of our understanding liberates us from worry and concern about the future. Of course we still need to do the work so to speak, but the results are now in His hands.
Personal Reflection: What do I still need to turn over?