I work for a large organization that places special emphasis on diversity. They reach out to all under represented groups (based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.) to try not only to include them but also to hopefully hire more of them and make more of them part of leadership one day. Did I mention that most of the leadership in this particular field are white males? Yeah…so you see the need.
We are also sooooo careful when planning events and catering. We ask for food allergies or preferences and try to accommodate whenever possible (except for the girl recently who doesn’t eat fruit and vegetables and wanted me to take the lettuce and tomato off of her sandwich because she didn’t even want to touch it…yeah…grow up little girl – I ain’t your mama). We are careful when scheduling things so not to interfere with any major religious holidays. We have events that include “significant others” so that if someone is gay or lesbian, they will feel comfortable bringing their partners.
I really like all of that. I think it fosters a sense of inclusion and gives voice to some groups that may not otherwise have a voice. It’s cool.
But no one…and I mean NO ONE…ever mentions alcoholism or drug addiction. No one asks if there are any recovering alcoholics or addicts that may feel uncomfortable spending 2 hours in a bar while those around them imbibe. Not only does no one asks, no one tells either! (Don’t ask don’t tell is alive and well folks.) No one speaks about it unless it’s in whispers or when they are talking behind someones back. We don’t even consider having non-alcoholic, after hours events “just in case” there are recovering alcoholics in the groups. Because we’re so anonymous, no one ever thinks of our needs.
And let’s face it, addiction is the ultimate in equal opportunity. It knows no race, gender, sexual orientation, age or religion. It sneaks in and bites you in the ass and it doesn’t really care where you were born or where you went to school. It doesn’t look at your neighborhood or whether or not you have a pool or drive a fancy car.
This all bothers me. Not in the outrage because my son’s school won’t allow same sex couples at the prom kind of way, but more in the big sigh and oh how I wish it was different and what can I do to help kind of way. I know this probably sounds silly to some and downright shocking and blasphemous to others and that it completely defies the tenets of AA but it’s my happy place so let me sit and dream awhile okay? Why do we have to hide in the shadows? Why can’t we celebrate our accomplishments and shout it from the rooftops?
“LOOK WORLD! I HAVE GIVEN UP MY DRUG OF CHOICE AND AM IN REMISSION AND RECOVERY! I AM STRONG AND POWERFUL AND EMPOWERED!”
Honestly, I believe that if we were to come out of the shadows and into the light the rate of recidivism might be a lot less. It’s the ultimate in accountability don’t you think? If we could go to an AA meeting at lunch (maybe an open meeting where others could join) perhaps we’d be more likely to attend on a regular basis. If my boss was aware of my status I think I would be much less likely to even consider drinking for fear of losing my job. I drank for YEARS in an out of control way and no one at work EVER knew! And yes, it DID effect my performance. Not in an overt way but my work was definitely impacted. If my work began to slip my boss would call me into her office and ask what was wrong? Was I having family issues? Is something up with my health? Why can’t she/he also ask…are you drinking again and how can I help?
Think about it. What if we lived in a world where having an addiction problem wasn’t a character defect but rather just a physical issue? What if it was really treated like a disease rather than just given lip service? What if we could speak openly about our issues and not be looked down upon and treated like we were criminals? What if we didn’t have to be anonymous anymore?