My sobriety date is February 6th, 2010. Being so fragile in early sobriety I shared this with few friends and my family only. Twenty days into my sober life I was involved in a car accident which left me unable to continue my corporate role. While this is a horrible experience, it did make it even easier to remain anonymous.
It’s not like I had to tell anyone, it’s more that I just can’t keep a secret. Honestly, it’s like I was born with an internal “must spill to the world” button. I am the girl who calls all of her friends when something big happens; every major accomplishment in my life or the lives of others is a reason to celebrate! The morning that I found out I was pregnant, 7 weeks I might add, everyone in my network had received a phone call or email by 10am.
This time however, I couldn’t seem to open the flood gates to celebrate. Deep within myself something had changed, I’d become truly desolate and frightened. This wasn’t a happy-go-lucky, everything’s going to be okay situation. I’d finally admitted to myself that the floor had dropped out from under me and I’d lost control of my life.
After the car accident I had a lot of time on my hands, my daughters were in school and my husband was taking care of the activities I used to. My days were filled with pain, therapies, rest and Facebook. Some very kind people showed up almost daily to take me to 12 Step meetings, my faith and my sobriety grew strong while my body wasn’t able.
One day while on Facebook, I stumbled across an online 12 Step Meeting Group and joined up eagerly. It felt great being able to interact with people who faced the same disease on the days when I just couldn’t leave the house. It wasn’t long before I realized that my posts on that group’s page showed up in the feed on my Facebook profile’s wall. A friend of mine from childhood “liked” the fact that I’d commented on the group whose name is very obviously a well-known 12 step program.
Outed As An Alcoholic On Social Media
I was shocked, I had no idea it wasn’t a secret group, my stomach dropped and I’d broken into a sweat. I had over 500 friends in my list at the time, ranging from long lost elementary school folks to relatives in England. In that moment I had a choice, I could delete the feed post and find a “secret” group or I could use this as an opportunity to share with others.
Before I sought help I knew I was a heavy drinker, in fact I knew it was a problem. I thought that I was weak, unable to curb my weekend habit. In my mind a stronger person would be able to resist and my self-image quickly eroded away as I woke with shame each morning after. This day I sat there remembering this, realizing that I’d said in the past I didn’t know an alcoholic didn’t have to drink daily to qualify as an alcoholic.
It wasn’t easy making the decision but finally I updated my status to announce the days I had sober and hit update. While I waited for the fallout I was shocked as I received messages over the next few weeks from friends who have experienced alcoholism in their own lives.
Over the next 6 months I had numerous public interactions on Facebook regarding sobriety and alcoholism; the stigma I’d placed upon it seemed to dwindle and my confidence increased.
Today I live my life one day at a time, I cannot control what will come but I will control my responses. As long as my spiritual foundation is strong, God can give me the strength, courage and wisdom I need.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
AA Daily Reading
The simplicity of the A.A. program teaches me that happiness isn’t something I can “demand.” It comes upon me quietly, while I serve others. In offering my hand to the newcomer or to someone who has relapsed, I find that my own sobriety has been recharged with indescribable gratitude and happiness.
Wendy [mapsgirl] says
God has a plan. That group wasn’t secret for a reason. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. It’s just always great to see His plan in action!
You’re so right Wendy and I’m not one to catch subtlety when I’m convinced otherwise…
I too had a similar experience and was saddened by the lack of “privacy” Facebook actually had. Now I keep my friends at a minimum and keep only the people I want seeing my personal life. I get joy in doing mass friend deletes. Many friends who don’t normally get deleted get a chuckle out of it.
I am sure that God has guided me through the darkest of days. While I sometimes wonder, why me….I am sure that his ultimate plan is slowly being revealed. Faith in knowing we are on our own specific path makes all the difference.
Even when that path is rocky, it’s faith that fills me
oooohhhh that facebook. it’s evil sometimes. good to hear you turned it around into a good experience!
It sure is lol
As Wendy said God was in control. We don’t always know the why but HE does, and boy it has been amazing to watch.
so true Hollie
I have discovered that some of my groups aren’t private either the same way. Thankfully I try to keep my secrets to myself and don’t post on fb just in case. I would think that AA would be private, but yes you are right God has a plan.
God’s plan that changed our lives: Our 3rd child was a complete and total shock to us, as we were taking many precautions not to get pregnant. Just after we found out I went to get a dating u/s, and they couldn’t find the baby. Hubby and I hit our knees, all of a sudden after a week of arguing and blame and not wanting this baby, we both realized we wanted him. 2 weeks later I went for an u/s, and he was completely fine and well in there. God wanted us to have that baby, and he wanted us to realize he wanted him too. Now that baby is the joy of our entire family, and none of us could be without him!
Oh my goodness that’s amazing, God knows exactly what we need…even when it hurts
wow. talk about something being meant to be!
You are so strong and awesome. (((hugs)))
Great share! I’ve had unintentional shares on facebook too, but yours turned into an opportunity to help others.
It’s amazing how often life and all of the decisions that come with it boils down to courage. I adore that having courage isn’t about the absence of fear, but more about feeling fear and doing it anyway. I so commend your honesty and your dedication to help others..denial is a horrible place to call home. I do believe that you have more than found your purpose. xo
Somehow, sometime your story of sobriety and the struggles and triumphs therein are going to hit somebody just right to change their lives. Thank you for sharing your story instead of hiding it.
Good for you for choosing to use that moment to be honest with your friends and family and not hide. I joined a group on FB once and then quickly unjoined, afraid of people knowing that I’d joined it. It was about something in my past though, not something I was dealing with anymore so it’s not like I needed the group for support like you. The name of your blog alone shows your bravery.
Multi-Testing Mommy says
Everything happens for a reason and even though at the time, you were shocked and maybe upset, it happened, you moved forward and I bet you can safely say that you won’t ever look back either ;)
Facebook can be very sneaky!!! I don’t trust it.
Patricia Gallant says
All I can say is “ditto” to what Multi-Testing Mommy said. You have a heck of a lot more strength than I do. Good for you!
Christine aka chancesmommy says
Wow! What an incredible post. I also want to say what an incredible, inspiring, and strong person you are, Julie. Xoxo
You truly rock! I am happy you were able to get the support you needed
Coffee Lovin Mom says
I love that you decided to go with the flow on something you didn’t even mean to do! That reaction should be great validation for what you’ve been doing, makes me believe even more that things happen for a reason!
Though I don’t like Facebook did that to you, it sounds like it was meant to be!
I do try to monitor WHAT I post online as I know nothing is as private as you may think.. BUT I also think that sometimes things happen for a reason.
Perhaps you having the courage to post on the FB group and having others see could give someone the courage to speak up about something they are struggling with… Often times the thought of expressing something is more terrifying than the result of doing so!
Look at where you are now and how many people you have influenced.. It may have been horrifying at the time, but it was so worth it in the end.
The tragedy of your car accident was not a tragedy at all…it was a strong message for you to change your life, the same for the Facebook. Look at what you have accomplished in these couple of years…not only making yourself healthier spiritually, mentally and physically but also the lives you have touched through your insight and experience with alcoholism and recovery. Kudos to you Julie! Keep up what you were obviously meant to be doing at this time (Gods plan in action for you)
Kelly @ City Mom says
STHAT’S awesome Julie! It’s nothing to be ashamed of you’re right! And you putting it out there is helping others and helping tear down walls! Good on you!
Robin @ Blommi says
Congratulations on your sobriety. The FB exposure certainly would have stunk if you were still at work
Jenn @therebelchick says
You made me cry a little with this one, Julie! Sometimes being open about our own weaknesses gives others the strength to confront their own. :)
Mommie Daze says
Ack! Facebook and all their privacy issues. But kudos for turning it around, and using it to help others. Courageous!
Angie @ My Four Monkeys says
Great post! Always amazing to see how God works in our lives. :)
Positively Pampered Patty says
Very inspiring Julie! There is no shame in wanting a better life for yourself.
Julie, wow your sobriety date is coming up in 2 days! Would you like to hold a Twitter (Awareness) Party to raise awareness on alcoholism on that date? If yes, I would be glad to help out.
Hmmm that would be a good idea!