I don't talk about recovery meetings on this blog, and for good reason. What happens in those meetings is sacred, and it's not my business to share the things I hear there.
I went into the room, plunked down in the back and crossed my arms, prepared to despise everything and everyone.
It didn't work out that way. Before I could stop myself, my hand went up and I said my name. And then I said I was an alcoholic.
I'd love to say the clouds parted, beams of light came streaming down and I never drank again. It didn't work out that way, either.
But a seed was planted that night. Sitting in that room for an hour, listening to others' stories, I felt companionship and understanding. I felt safe, for the first time in a long time. My life was full of baffled loved ones asking questions that started with "how could you..." and "why don't you .." and "why can't you..." In that room I was surrounded by people who understood, and it broke through my pain and denial just enough to bring me back again. And again. I went until I wanted to be there, and nobody was more surprised than me when that happened.
These people I had never met before, who had nothing invested in me, who didn't want a thing for me except my own peace of mind, started me down the road to sobriety.
Crying Out Now. People are stepping forward, telling their truths, surrendering their fears, and comforting strangers are responding in kind. I started Crying Out Now seven months ago, and now co-moderate it with Robin and Val, two amazing women in recovery. It is a place for people to come tell their truths, anonymously if they wish, without judgment or fear of reprisal.
Some people who submit their story are still drinking, unsure if they have a problem or not and simply thinking out loud. Others are newly sober or coming back after a relapse and are struggling and in need of support. Some people have been in recovery for a while, and just want to share some of their experience, strength and hope.
The power of hearing someone tell their truth, not because they have all the answers but because they don't, is undeniable. The comfort offered by people who have been there, or who are there themselves, is healing.
The internet affords its own version of anonymity. You can be anyone you want to be, and lots of people use this power for evil instead of good. At Crying Out Now the ability to be anyone - just another face in a sea of faces - has the power to heal. For many people, it's the first place they have ever talked about their struggles or fears. It's a first step, a planted seed, a small break in the isolation of suffering.
Crying Out Now is not about telling people that they need to get sober, or how to get sober. Where people go and what they do with their truth is up to them. But it's a safe place to open up and shed a small beam of light into the darkness.
If you're struggling with alcoholism or addiction, or if you're in recovery and want to share some of your story, please submit a post to firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear from you. Robin, Val and I are the only ones with access to the email, and you can create an anonymous hotmail or yahoo email account if you don't want anyone to know who you are.
Or just come lend some words of encouragement and support. You can comment anonymously, too, and your words will help someone feel less alone, less afraid.
Please help us spread the word about Crying Out Now, because the comfort of strangers has the power to heal.