On April 8, 2008, I wrote a blog about my first year of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous, "violating" the 11th tradition of AA which says members are not supposed to speak or write about being in the program. The response to the original post—and each one since—has been both intensely critical and supportive. Here are some of the criticisms:
"Brian Cuban, as far as your inclusion of statements about your involvement with AA goes, you should shut your GD mouth. Have you no sense of responsibility to people in recovery, or to people who might one day need recovery at all? Try reading the book. It's anonymous for good reason, so that people like you are not able to damage AA's value."
"…I do not know if I commend your use of AA as fodder for blog posts. The 10th(sic) Tradition of AA states,"Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy." You are breaking the traditions for your own gain. You are intelligent, articulate, and thought provoking - and I encourage you to be so, but not on the back of AA. Furthermore, as a member of AA who only has 1 year sobriety, do you feel that you should be the represented voice of AA? I think your sponsor would disagree."
Why did I—and continually choose to do so now—write about my experiences and struggles with addiction? I've discovered that recovery is a process of learning, expression and doing—not words in a book or on a wall. For me, Alcoholics Anonymous is not a one size fits all paragraph-by-paragraph big book and written traditions guideline for recovery. Recovery is a complex unique process for everyone for we are all different in how we got there, even if the act of putting bottle to mouth is the same for us all. Some of us are actual physical addicts. Some, like me, are psychological addicts. The paths to the bottle are as many and varied as the paths to recovery, even if AA "hard liners" hate hearing that.
Of course the one constant is the need to stop drinking. AA absolutely helped me do that not because I believe in the Big Book, the 11 tradition, or any other mantra. Because sobriety allowed me to deal with deep-seated childhood issues that I drank in part to forget. Treating the cause, not just the behavior. My personal path to recovery does not belong to anyone else.
An important part of that that path has been the release of pain through expressive writing. Expressing my journey through recovery with brutal honestly and transparency. Could I write without mentioning AA? Yes, I could but I won't. That is not honestly. I don't sugar coat it. I don't lie or misrepresent where I have been or where I am in my recovery. That is how I move forward. That helps me stay in the present. If writing about that breaches the 11th tradition and the expectations of what AA is supposed to be, so be it. I will always stay on my side of the street and never judge anyone in their recovery regardless of where it takes them. Both life and recovery is a learning process. People, whether they are in AA or not, should be allowed to express their recovery in any manner they choose. Those who do not like it are free to not like it and continue to maintain anonymity in their participation.
I promise one thing. I will never out you. My story of recovery, however, belongs to no one but me. Relax, recover and get over it.
Brian Cuban is a an author who recently released his first book Shattered Image, chronicling his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from eating disorders and body dysmorphia disorder (BDD), which rose to the #1 spot on Amazon.com in the eating disorder category. Based in Dallas, TX, Cuban is also the segment host for "Brian Cuban's Legal Briefs" on EyeOpenerTV, and founder of his blog, The Cuban Revolution. Additionally Cuban is a lawyer and activist specializing in 1st Amendment issues and hate speech and has lectured on the topic in major media outlets and conferences around the world. For more information, visit www.briancuban.com