In the October issue of Redbook Magazine there is an article about moms, drinking and the power of sharing our stories.
I was interviewed for the article, (click here to view it online) along with my sober sisters Heather of The Extraordinary-Ordinary and Corinne of Trains, Tutus and Teatime. Another amazing woman, Deb, is also featured in the article. She isn't sober, and she has the grace and courage to talk openly about how she feels about her drinking. Her story will resonate with so many women who have nagging thoughts about alcohol, but who don't feel safe talking about it. Deb is helping break down the walls of silence and fear, and I am so grateful to call her my friend.
Sometimes I forget to remember that these incredible women wouldn't be in my life if I wasn't sober; their friendship is as essential to me as oxygen.
Although I've been writing about my addiction and recovery for a couple of years now, sometimes my own words make me cringe, and I wonder: why in the world am I putting myself out there like that? There have been many times I held my finger nervously over the 'publish' button, contemplating whether I was sharing too much, aching to alter the story to make it prettier, or to make myself less vulnerable.
Especially in the early days of blogging, I would click 'send to publish' quickly, before I could overthink things too much and change my mind. Then I'd sit nervously by and peer at the comments with trepidation, bracing myself for judgment, condemnation or ignorance.
They never came.
What came instead were words of support and encouragement, and email after email from women saying "your story is exactly like mine", or "I see myself in your words".
A pivotal moment in my own recovery happened early on, as I sat reluctantly in the back row of one of my first recovery meetings. I hated being there, hated myself. I thought I was irretrievably broken and weak. I honestly believed I was a terrible person, that I was alone with my horrible thoughts and deeds.
An attractive woman, a mother, about my age approached the podium and introduced herself as an alcoholic. She didn't look the part, in my mind's eye. She can't be nearly as bad as me, I thought. The words that flowed from her mouth that night told my story. We were the same; we thought the same, felt the same, did the same things while we were drinking. She was two years sober, and she was glowing.
In that moment, I realized I was not alone. That I was surrounded by people who understood, who had walked the path before me, who could help. Even more staggering to me was that my story moved them, too, helped them stay on the path of sobriety. I didn't think I had anything to offer anybody, and here we were, leaning on each other in comraderie and kinship.
So when I put my words out there, tell my truths here in this space or in a magazine article, I remember that feeling from that night. That bolt of electricity and hope that shot through my body: I am not alone. There are many women who struggle in silence, who aren't about to walk into a recovery meeting - not yet, and maybe not ever - and who would never know they weren't alone if it wasn't for the stories shared online, or in magazines, or memoirs. In these safe places they can see themselves in the words, and realize there is hope. There are thousands upon thousands of women exactly like them who have fought back addiction and won, a day at a time.
Writing my truths here has brought me great healing, too, and the unbelievable people I have met on this path - people like Corinne, Heather, Deb and so many more - are one of the biggest gifts I have received in recovery. The emails I get from women who are struggling - who gulp back the fear and type out their truths - they help me so much. I am humbled by their bravery, inspired by their honesty and grace.
Addiction is a disease of silence and isolation. If you're reading this and you are struggling in silence and shame, please know you are not alone. Find someone safe - reach out and connect with someone who understands. Try a recovery meeting, join a recovery chat room, or send an email to a sober blogger whose story touches you. We understand.
The response from the Redbook article is amazing; I have received many emails from women who saw themselves in our stories, and are taking that first brave step of reaching out and telling their truth - some of them for the first time ever.
A big thank you to Redbook for tackling this sensitive, controversial topic - the more we talk openly about this, the more we can heal.
And an extra special thank you to Nancy Ramsey, author of the article, for her professionalism, talent and kindness.