Sunday, October 14, 2012

Help Us Change The Word "Alcoholic" From 'Bad' to 'Brave'

This is, in my mind, the most important thing I write about.

The goals of Crying Out Now are lofty, but simple: to provide a safe space for women to tell their stories of addiction and recovery to help heal themselves, and to let others know they aren't alone.

And to change the way the world thinks of what it means to be an alcoholic.

Yes, the WORLD.

If you're going to aim, aim high, I say.

What do YOU think when you hear the world alcoholic? Quick - knee jerk reaction.  What image pops into your mind? Be honest with yourself. Even if you've been reading here a while, my guess is there is still that image that slinks around in your brain of a scraggly homeless man slumped on a doorstep.  It slinks in my brain sometimes, when my disease tries to tell me I wasn't that bad.

Maybe you've been wondering about your own drinking.  Do you have a niggling voice in the back of your mind that bursts through sometimes and tells you that drinking might be a little too important to you?

Whether or not you're in the earliest stages of wondering about your drinking, or firmly entangled in the trenches of low-bottom losses from drinking, it doesn't matter.  I have always said it isn't how much you drink, or how often, it's what alcohol does to you that matters.  It begins to possess your thoughts, you start arranging your life around drinking, you start to have doubts that you're fully present for your life, your work, your children.

Usually, though, these thoughts are easily dismissed by the stigma that the word "alcoholic" carries with it.  Alcoholics aren't successful business people, financially secure, happily married or mothers who try as hard as they can for their kids.  They aren't funny, creative, loving, compassionate and articulate.  They don't live next-door, or in your own house.  They aren't YOU.

I am passionate about breaking down this stigma that keeps people stuck and alone. Especially for women and mothers. We drink alone, usually, in our kitchens, with a few too many at dinner, with sneaky extra gulps from a glass when nobody is looking, or stolen chugs from a stashed bottle.  And we tend to think we're just bad, morally corrupt. And, as women are prone to do, we think we need to be perfect, so we hide this secret as deeply as we can, even though the shame is there, corroding our confidence and making us feel worthless and alone.

There is a change happening, though.  More and more women are using the internet to reach out, find out they aren't alone, and get help.

This is still a controversial topic, and I have been a lightening rod for criticism, as have other women who were some of  the first to be outspoken about their own addiction and recovery stories.  I understand the criticism.  I listen to it closely, because being open about recovery means constantly balancing the desire to reach out to the person who is suffering in silence with the role of Ego in recovery.  It's a tightrope walk of adhering to the importance of one's own recovery program and coloring outside the lines a little bit.

Here's what I see, though. More and more people (especially women) are exploring the idea of recovering from behind the safety of their computer screens, WAY before they would consider a recovery meeting, or even TELLING anyone else about their problem.

Entire communities are forming online to support each other, cheering each other on, offering encouragement and support - and often, the information that helps people walk into their first recovery meeting.  I don't think that one can stay sober long term completely online.  At some point you need to have real people in your life who can help you face-to-face.  But MANY people are meeting each other online first, and taking those initial brave steps towards admitting a problem because they can identify with the stories they read, the people they meet.   The stigma of being an alcoholic is broken down, so the compassion, love and support can come flowing through.

It's been a while since I made a video celebrating Crying Out Now.  I don't know where the last two years went, but I haven't made one since the first anniversary, and now Crying Out Now is 3 1/2 years old, and it is time for a new video.

MANY of the women (most, in fact) you see in this video met first online, by reading sober blogs, through the Booze Free Brigade, or through reaching out initially and tentatively from behind their computer screens.

They are getting off that elevator of addiction - the one that only goes one way .... DOWN - before they go all the way to rock bottom.  The internet is helping them identify with others who are exactly like them, where before they thought they were the only one.  The internet is helping many of these women go to a recovery meeting, and supplement the support they get online with people in 'real' life.

I know the statistics, that many people never crawl their way out of addiction. I don't care about the statistics. Admitting you are an alcoholic and doing the brave work involved in getting well takes serious guts, and it's this bravery I want to honor.  Crying Out Now shares the struggles (many people try for years before they finally get sober, if they get sober at all) and the successes, to show people that they aren't alone and that there IS hope.

Please honor their courage in sharing the messages in this video by commenting and PLEASE share this video on your Facebook and/or Twitter pages.  Odds are addiction has touched your life in some way - either directly or indirectly - because more than 52% of American adults are impacted by the disease of addiction.

Please share this video so it can reach that one person who is suffering in silence - you may even know her, but you don't know she's suffering.

Please help us change how the world responds to the world 'alcoholic'.

Please help us change the world, one story at a time.

(P.S. - I recommend watching this in full view screen for better viewing.  To share, click on the "share" button - SUPER easy).  Thank you.


  1. Oh Ellie you know I'm in on this quest.....tears here

  2. With you, Ellie. Do you think we could do something with WomenHeal?

    1. Christa - I was wondering about that, too! I'll message you. :)

  3. This is marvelous!! Have shared on Facebook page and our other social media platforms. What a gift!!

  4. Ellie! This came out SO beautifully! Seeing dear, beautiful, strong women I both know and don't know just melted my heart. Big time tears of gratitude over here in Texas. God bless you for giving us this gift once again and for helping to take the mask off of alcoholism for those who are still suffering and need to know they are NOT alone. I love you! xoxo

  5. I was one of those women, searching drunk blogs, reading all I could, deeply mired in shame. I am so grateful for the internet and the community of people out there. I was taken to my first recovery meeting by people I met on the BFB...I don't know that I would be sober today (almost 19 months, without Crying Out Now, Baby on Bored and The BFB.
    You have done such great service for so many women and men, Thank you, thank you!
    We are, none of us alone, and this video and your blogs are the proof.
    Grateful, so very...

  6. The video turned out beautifully. Thanks for all you do Ellie. mwah!

  7. I love this post, this video and you. Wonderful. So glad you are doing the work that you do to help others.

  8. Thank you so much for this. Recovery takes a brave soul... the stigma attached the word "alcoholic makes it so much harder. I will share.

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  10. Brave is definitely a word I would use to describe you. Also? Amazing.

  11. I needed to see this tonight. Thank you for reminding me, once again, that I am not alone.
    Yours in fellowship.

  12. Absolutely honored and proud to share.

    Addiction, in so many forms: and support/community is biggest predictor of recovery.


  13. How did I forget to say this? BEAUTIFUL.



  14. So much love to you, friend!

    {And aim high, indeed! Go for it, girl! I'm so cheering you on!}

  15. Beautiful post. What a gorgeous goal. I am so wholeheartedly behind supporting women, especially moms in any endeavor. As the adoptive mommy to two children with fetal alcohol syndrome, this is particularly close to my heart. You are brave and I applaud you and any mama out there looking to make a change.

  16. Ssssssh. I am at the questioning stage. The don't say anything to anybody and maybe nobody'll notice that you're on #5 stage. The just have one to take the edge of and bam!, how many have you had stage. The promise to take the kids to the park but pass out on the sofa and call it dozing off stage. The oh, I'm just tired, not tipsy stage. Sssssh.

    This does not feel brave. It doesn't feel alcoholicy either but it damn sure doesn't feel...good.

  17. I so agree in this blog! I was once an alcoholic person and that didn’t do any good with my life, thanks to my family who helped me and consulted the alcohol rehab new york