I am a newly sober tennis player. I do okay and can easily go to meetings when I’m at home, but it’s hard to get to meetings while on tour. There is an insane amount of drugs and alcohol that are literally handed to you in professional sports. I try to hide my sobriety and appear cool, but the shame and secrecy of my sobriety feels like the same aloneness I suffered when I was drinking and using.
I will lose my career if I don’t stay sober. That alone scares me sober, but it doesn’t mean I know how to be sober. I have to be able to build relationships with the endorsements and with the sponsors I need to stay in the game, but they are also the ones who expect me to drink with them. I am struggling to balance recovery and my career. – I want both in Palm Desert
CrossTalk is based on the premise that recovery life is polytely: frequently, complex problem-solving situations characterized by the presence of not one, but several, endings. This writing represents decades of recovery and its application to life and how to get over it, into it or through it with spunk, levity and a good dose of reality. What? You want more than happy, joyous and free? Get over it. Just sayin’. – Mollé
Not buying it. These days, you can get to meetings just about anywhere you go. There are meetings in almost every town. Online meetings can be a good resource for keeping anonymity while traveling.
Google “AA meetings for athletes” for more resources. These meetings focus on specific recovery groups without violating AA’s Tradition Four. Doctors have doctors groups, attorneys have attorney groups and athletes have athlete groups, etc. Staying out of the public eye can be more challenging in today’s world. More and more people break their anonymity at public levels and may unintentionally break yours. You do have to be careful.
If you want to stay sober more than you want drink, however, you will find a way. Today it is a keyboard click away. You might also ask your home group buddies about a regular or impromptu Skype or Facetime meeting.
You don’t have to be alone; you do not have to figure this out by yourself. Many athletes need and have both a publically-demanding career and a solid, anonymous recovery. It may take strategizing on your part, but you can do it.
As a female college ice hockey player, in addition to training five days a week and traveling for away games, I have to regularly attend training camps where we are evaluated on every minor aspect of being an athlete – namely, my body. We have to weigh ourselves before and after every event, and that gets my mind spinning on the “you’re-not-good-enough” merry-go-round. It makes me want to throw up what I eat, not eat at all or get drunk – or all three.
I started going to AA for my drinking and now go to Overeaters Anonymous (OA) for my food issues. I’ve been able to hide this from my friends, but I just found out that one of my teammates is also in Twelve Step recovery. She doesn’t know that I know. I would like to reach out to her, but I don’t want to scare her. I also don’t want to put myself in a position to have my recovery revealed to others. – Torn in Minnesota
I read your note and pictured you playing hockey drunk. Yikes! I’m glad you are sober.
We are supposed to maintain anonymity at a public level, but that doesn’t mean we have to hide from each other. Nor does that mean you have to break your anonymity, or mention anyone else’s.
Here is what has worked for me. I pray about it and then let it go. Try it. It works.
“Dear God, if it is Your will, give me the strength and courage to say something to this person – not one word more or one word less than what is needed. If it is not Your will, God, give me the strength and courage to be quiet.”
Then let it go. You will know if and when you need to take action.
Your teammate may need to be silent – or she may desperately need to know she is not alone. If this is the case, reconfirm your desire for privacy and share the journey. You may need her more than she needs you.
In closing, I feel compelled to mention that many athletes have eating disorders, often for the same reasons. I encourage you to do some research, seek clinical help if needed and, as appropriate, find your peers. You are not the first athlete in recovery and you won’t be the last.
The viewpoints shared or any implied actions suggested by Mollé are the opinions and ideas of the author only and do not represent those of In Recovery Magazine. The implied action is offered openly and is never intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional. You may send your dilemmas to Mollé at firstname.lastname@example.org.