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3 Facebook Messages, Some Profanity, Anonymity and the Stigma of Alcoholism

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This morning I sat down to write you a post exposing myself as someone who is still utterly imperfect. I’d stepped over another pile of laundry and after reflecting (and bashing myself internally for letting my housework go…again) I felt it would be blogworthy. The outline was simple: expose my imperfection, share my personal emotions and then the path I’d take going forward. Throw in what I’d hope would be a few laughs and I’d be done.

Opening the laptop I opened the SoberJulie Facebook page as is the obviously the first thing I do daily and was greeted by 3 messages which ripped me apart. The first was from someone who has a family member in active alcoholism asking for help. Second was someone thanking me for being so “open” about my recovery and life after as it was inspiring them. The third was from someone who felt compelled to knock the shit out of me for not keeping myself Anonymous in my recovery.

As I read each of these my emotions were messy….my breath became hitchy, my heart rate increased and inside I wept for each person’s situations. With each I didn’t respond, I never do immediately. When I am contacted by anyone I’ve learned it’s best to absorb their heart in their words for a time before I begin typing.

If you’re reading this and feeling some strong emotions about the 3 messages, hang onto those thoughts and let me try and write out my thought process for a sec here.

Humble Doesn’t Come Comfortably

After reading all 3 my focus immediately was on the 3rd. “How DARE they do this? Here I am trying to put myself out there in order to help others who may be suffering and these BASTARDS are bashing me? WTF?? God where are you in this, why the HELL am I being so open if this is the result? How are you glorified here?”

Breathe Julie….and there is it…the God moment that swung my ego-driven, self-serving thoughts away from poor martyr Julie over to the rational, humble way of thinking.

In a single breath God pulled my head out of my ass into the clear light of recovery. You see, within that breath came the 4 years of learning in recovery. With the cleansing oxygen came an awareness of how utterly infantile I was being. Let me tell you it’s a bitch when you see your self acting this way…humble doesn’t come comfortably some days.

3 Messages Sharing a Connection

Here I sat reading messages from 3 different people from 3 different life experiences and they’d actually taken the time to share their hearts. That alone is amazing and should be celebrated. Who the heck am I? I’m nobody to them but letters on a screen or an image in their Facebook feed and somehow they’ve connected with me…yes in different ways but it is indeed a connection.

Gratitude flowed into me, as I sit and write this I am truly thankful for these messages which have allowed me to reflect upon the growth and learning that God has allowed me over the past 4 years.

The first letter had me weeping because I can so easily relate. I AM the person whose life seemed futile, the person who was so far into the blackness that despair and shame knit together to provide a cloak I wore heavily upon me as a second skin. It reminded me that the struggle and BATTLE which I fight daily is worth it…and the strain of sharing it publicly was less frightening than the thought of keeping it secret.

The second letter filled me with gratitude, it gave me validation that God’s purpose was being fulfilled.  This writer’s time and words verified that I was navigating the path correctly and although it may continue to hurt when people turn from me because of my openly-public sharing, I’m doing the right thing.

The third letter struck a chord within me because I needed to look at this anonymity thing once again to ensure I have NO doubts about how I’m conducting myself. The fact is that alcoholism was a very private disease in years gone by, there is a stigma around alcoholism to this day.

Breaking the Stigma

alcoholism

That stigma is alive and well unfortunately and I feel called to blast light into the reality of the disease. Alcoholism is deadly and if we ignore it, or keep it a dirty little secret people will never recover. I was someone who thought she didn’t know anyone in recovery (how wrong I was) because where I was from it wasn’t spoken of.

In the months before I faced my alcoholism, I Googled the hell out of “recovering from alcoholism” and “women in recovery” just to find information and some bloody hope. Hope is a strong state of being, it’s the one thing that gave me the courage to look forward upon a life of sobriety and not my own perceived dark Hell.

That Googling and hoping landed me onto a few blogs and websites where women shared of themselves in hopes to help the person suffering (me) see there is life after sobriety. Some of them are Crying Out Now, Momastery and Edenland.

Thank GOD that these women put themselves out there, without their online articles I may never have made it to recovery. The experience, strength and hope I found enabled me to seek help and this is one of the integral reasons why I’ll never be anonymous. I’ll put it out there, loud and clear until God tells me not to.

Today I know that I can NEVER drink successfully again, I’m out there about this in a very non-anonymous way and for me this works. I respect the anonymity of others and firmly support their right to be so. You will NEVER hear me breaking this, it’s simply written on my soul that I respect other people’s choices.

Living Sober Can Be a Bitch

Living sober when surrounded by alcohol in your culture is truly a bitch. Everywhere I turn there is stimulus which has my inner desires going haywire…I can glimpse a billboard and suddenly feel my mouth turn pasty and dry…gasping for that one drink which can make it all better.

But the reality is that things in my world will never be improved with booze. Never again will I be able to relax at the end of a day with a wine glass in hand, never will I get a night started with my beloved shot of Patrone. These are fallacies in my world, they would only end up with me behaving in a manner which could ruin myself in so many ways.

Alcohol is gone from my life but so many wonderful things have replaced it, including an amazing online community of people in recovery. My perspective has changes as I’ve learned and God keeps providing me opportunities to learn, improve and yes even bitch to him as I do. Today I was pulled to check myself and make sure my motives are in line with God’s desires for me and once again I know this imperfect Christian woman is just where she is meant to be.

I’m humbled and so grateful for the messages I receive, without them I wouldn’t be able to reflect, learn and grow so please do keep them coming my friends.

Comments

  1. 1
    nadene coleman says:

    I think you are amazing for sharing your story. Don’t let other’s opinions make you doubt yourself. Be PROUD of what you are accomplishing. I am sure the one’s that love you are so proud of you.

  2. 3
    Brandy says:

    I am so glad that you decided to get help. I wish my mother had done the same. Alcoholism took her life. I am so happy that your children still have their mother. You should be very proud of yourself and for putting your whole story out there. I am proud of you. Keep sharing because you are truly making a difference in people’s lives. *hugs*
    Brandy recently posted..Feel Better With Bowen TherapyMy Profile

  3. 5
    Teresa Claire says:

    I am so sorry at the negative response that you received. I praise you for being brave and having the courage to put yourself out there for all of us to see. To me, you are my hero…You have helped many and you have helped me more than you could know.

  4. 7

    I appreciate you sharing this web site post.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  5. 8

    Beautiful! Thank you! I’ve been so confused about all this stuff lately myself, even though I feel compelled to share openly and honesty about being a recovering alcoholic too. Eden and Glennon are BIG inspirations to me too, and now you :-) Thank you for all you do, reading this really helped me today and really, isn’t THAT what it’s all about? xx
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..The real workMy Profile

  6. 10
    Jeannette Laframboise says:

    Not only am I impressed by how you have put yourself out there, but also because of the way you handled the 3 emails you speak of. Most of us do not respond so well to being attacked and you have. That makes you amazing in my opinion. I don’t think I could respond with such grace, perhaps it is something you have learned in your recovery along the way. I applaud all that you have done and showed people that recovery is possible.

  7. 12
    Momma Bee says:

    Julie- I am so grateful for sober bloggers like yourself….. I first found Ellie from One Crafty Mother and it showed me I’m not alone. I don’t think, I know I would not of started my sober journey without all the blogs. I’ve “met” amazing women & a few men and their support has helped me. I am so grateful. I appreciate how you take time to reflects before you respond….. Thank you for sharing.
    Momma Bee recently posted..Here it goes…. My very first post!My Profile

  8. 14
    Rosie, Mum says:

    We are so proud of you and your Strengths! Love Mum and Dad.

  9. 15

    This is YOUR journey my friend. YOU are choosing the path you take and that should not matter to anyone else. I appreciate what you write as frankly, it is life. We learn from you every day Julie. We learn perspective. We learn hope and what the definition of courage really is.

    From my heart to yours, thank you.
    xo
    Sarah Robinson recently posted..#ShadesOfOtherhood: rewriting the fairytaleMy Profile

  10. 18
    Vikee says:

    This is my first visit to your website and in all honesty I don’t know where to start. This very week I admitted to myself that I had a problem with alcohol and I needed to go sober. I decided that I also needed to blog about it. I’ve had so much going on in my head in the past that I wish I’d wrote down so I could look back and see how far I’ve come. You really are a inspiration and I can see myself visiting here regularly.

    Take care. V x
    Vikee recently posted..The StartMy Profile

  11. 21
    Chandra Christine O'Connor says:

    Beautifully written

  12. 22
    Mark Noo says:

    Thanks for hitting back against the folks who think we should keep this a secret. If you knew there was a mine field wouldn’t you post a sign directing people to stay the hell out of there.
    Maintaining peoples confidences is cool, ignoring a potentially devastating problem is cowardice.
    Mark Noo recently posted..Alcohol and ViolenceMy Profile

  13. 24
    Jason says:

    First off: Kudos to you for accepting and admitting that you have a problem. Many people aren’t brave enough to be out there in the open with their addictions.
    Secondly: I’ve been an addict, clean 7 years now, and it sounds to me like this person is resentful that they or someone they know doesn’t have the strength you had/have. It also seems like there could be some embarrassment on their end.
    Either way it’s none of their business what you do with your life. You’re doing a great job at helping others and the ones that try to bring you down are only envious of your good nature.

    YOU ARE AWESOME JULIE :)

  14. 26
    EmmieAnn says:

    I just finished watching The Anonymous People and one big takeaway for me was the Aids slogan silence=death. I feel this so strongly with addiction, silence is killing so many of us. The movie also explained the nuances and expectations surrounding remaining anonymous.

    Anyway, thank you for your openness and honesty. And the mocktails!

  15. 27
    Tina F says:

    Julie as I said a few years ago when we met on fb I give you so much credit for telling your story and being open about it Many hide the fact as they feel ashamed NO no one should feel ashamed when they are getting sober it is a great thing Be proud. You have done wonderful and are doing a great thing here and you are probably helping so many others out there KUDOS to you girl I have told a few about you being sober that are going through it..Thank you for your openess

  16. 28
    Ronald G says:

    Yours is an incredible story and you should be proud…I quit drinking and drugs when my father died suddenly in 1993. I haven’t touched eitther since then…and though it was a tough adjustment to my lifestyle for quite awhile…Iso I understand and commend you

  17. 29
    Angie says:

    I am new to blogging, and I was wanting to incorporate aspects of my recovery in my posts. I was scratching my brain about what to do regarding the Anonymity aspect. I Googled “Top AA related blogs” in order to try and find something that would point me in a direction of what I can and cannot share… I came across theaablog.com and read their disclaimer …” This Blog is about our primary purpose, ‘Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help others achieve sobriety’.” BOOM…

    also look at the traditions in terms of if what you are doing is in alignment. I think if you are bringing the name AA into the mix, it makes it more complicated, then if you just state you are in recovery. It is difficult, because your aim is not self-promotion, from what I gather, but that may be something you can sit with to make sure of the intent. Maybe that was where letter 3 was coming from, accusing you of self promoting in the name of AA? I dunno- I didn’t read it, so I have no clue.

    I think the following traditions may be the ones to consider in terms of blogging is concerned.
    Tradition 5, which covers the primary purpose of AA groups, but you are an individual
    Tradition 10- regarding your religious stance
    Tradition 11- I think this one is the doozy that may have gotten you that email… I got this from http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_tradition_longform.pdf
    “Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us.” which basically boils it down to self promotion versus sticking to the principles.
    I get it from both angles, how your blog goes against these things, but also in the primary purpose of sharing your story in order to reach others who need help. I may myself go back and edit any posts that I have that state that I am in AA, and just generalize it to recovery. The topics that can be shared on our experiences, strength, and hope are important, but I can see how it would rub some “Thumpers” the wrong way.

    That’s my $.02…. , but I hear ya.
    Angie recently posted..Principles Before PersonalitiesMy Profile

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