Ok, my fellow bloggers, I am looking for your insight and advice about something that happened today.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month and I have been asked to speak about alcoholism at our school assembly later this month. This will be my second year doing it. The reason that I have been asked to do the presentation is because I am open about the fact that I am an alcoholic in recovery. I had a very positive response to the talk that I gave last year. Some students (and coworkers) felt comfortable enough afterward to come to my office and share how alcoholism affects their lives, to ask for help for a family member, or to talk about a problem that they were experiencing themselves. I was able to recommend solutions in some cases, but mostly I was just someone to listen who they knew could relate. I felt truly blessed to be able to offer my experience, strength, and hope to people that never would have approached me had they not known that I was an alcoholic. It genuinely felt like I was doing 12th step work, and I loved it.
Cut to today. My supervisor came to me to talk about my presentation (she is not the one that asked me to do it). She is older, foreign born, and at times, kind of scary. I have always managed to stay on her good side because I am a capable, reliable, and hard-working employee. This morning she sat at my desk and after talking about work for a few minutes, proceeded to tell me that when I do my presentation she doesn’t want me to say that I am in recovery. I said ok. I think that if I say that I am in recovery, more people will listen and believe what I am telling them. It gives me credibilty. Otherwise, who cares if the registrar is blathering on about alcohol-related statistics. Besides, my presentation in no way includes any part of my drunk-a-log, I don’t talk about any of my drunken behavior or negative consequences. But whatever, I agreed. Then my supervisor went on to say that my alcoholism is something to be hidden. Her exact words were, “Jami, you are too smart, too young, and too pretty to be an alcoholic. This is something you need to hide.” WTF??? That’s when I respectfully (it wasn’t easy) disagreed with her. I told her that I didn’t think that alcoholism was something to hide and that it doesn’t discriminate; it is not only hobos hopping trains that are alcoholics. I went on to say that there are many alcoholics that are of above average intelligence, and that being smart in no way prevents a person from becoming an alcoholic. We had a short, amiable discussion in which she stood her ground about alcoholism being shameful and deserving of being kept secret, and I stood my ground about the fact that people need more information and they need to see that there is hope in recovery. I guess, without saying it, we have agreed to disagree.
Now I’m really put off though. As I think about it more, I become more offended. Her comments about hiding my disease were hurtful to me, making me feel like I should be ashamed of who I am. That’s not cool.
So, what should I do? In my mind (my alcoholic mind), I have three choices: 1) I can say “fuck it, find someone else to do the presentation”, 2) I can fail to bring the presentation up again and just say what I want when the time comes (I’m sure there would be consequences), or 3) I can do the presentation the way she wants me to and feel like I have given in. I understand that right now I’m angry and hurt, and that my thinking is not completely rational. That’s why I am looking for some advice. What do you guys think?