By John Howard Prin
If you are in early sobriety, welcome to a lifetime of satisfying, authentic recovery.
Honestly disclosing your secrets can help you stregthen your recovery and prevent relapse. And if you're working the 12 steps, it's practically required, right there in steps four and five.
Disclosing secrets can offer new ways to help boost your effectiveness and improve your odds of success for staying sober.
Pre-sobriety, you may have hidden your using behavior and deceived people who asked about it, even to the point of lying outright to protect yourself. Put plainly, you kept secrets.
A Twelve Step adage commonly heard is, “You are as sick as your secrets.” If keeping secrets was a major part of your past, your recovery will depend on remedying this dysfunctional behavior.
When coming clean, it is necessary to consider who you need to tell, when and where to tell them, the amount of detail necessary to disclose and the need for the person listening to react and respond. Weighing each of these wisely helps make the awkward process of disclosing less difficult and uncomfortable.
Consider these do’s and don’ts:
Don’t disclose over the phone, email or letter. Speak in person, if possible.
Don’t wallow in details or names. Speak in themes.
Don’t save the worst for later.
Don’t allow young children to be present. Speak to children separately.
Do meet with a professional counselor ahead of time, perhaps also when disclosing.
Do meet in a quiet place where the listener feels safe.
Do write out what you will say. Use this as a guide, not word for word.
Do allow the other person to vent feelings and ask questions.
What strategies have you used to some clean in recovery?