I Take My Sobriety Seriously

Is anyone else a little pissed off? Less than a week after “we” all blogged about Robin William’s death and reemphasized how deadly addiction and depression can be, one of our fellow sober bloggers comes out and says that after almost three years of identifying as an alcoholic she’s decided she’s in fact not an alcoholic and therefore can drink again. WTF?!

I’ve been mulling over this ever since I read her post last night. First, I thought that maybe I should just send her a private message and express my feelings, but then I thought, “No. Nope. I need everyone to hear what I have to say.” I need to say this for all the other sober folks out there who are and will forever be alcoholics – like me.

I take my sobriety very seriously. It saved my family life, my marriage, my relationships – and ultimately I believe it saved my life. It gave me a second chance to live the life I always wanted and it is the sole reason I came to have a personal relationship with God.

We all have our own stories. And, no story is alike. I respect that. However, when someone who has identified as an alcoholic; shared their story and given advice to others in recovery suddenly changes their tune and publicly states that they’re in fact not an alcoholic, it is an insult to me and everyone else who has worked their asses off to achieve our sobriety.

I have all the respect in the world for those of us who relapse and come back to share our stories (I’ve been there). But, for someone to blatantly state that they are no longer an alcoholic and can now control or moderate their drinking, is a very dangerous message to those in recovery, especially early recovery.

I blog for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is to give hope to those who are in early recovery. Often times, this is the first place people will look when they’re trying to get sober. Whether it’s to remain anonymous or not, people come here to find support and encouragement. When I was first getting sober, I can’t tell you how many times I questioned whether or not I was REALLY an alcoholic. Everything pointed in the direction of me being an alcoholic, but I was looking for any excuse to not be one. I mean come on; who wants that label for the rest of their life? If I would’ve come across a post like the one I previously mentioned in early recovery, it would have given me one more reason to question my alcoholism.

Not only are messages like these dangerous for those in early recovery, but also for those of us with some long-term recovery. That cunning and baffling part of my disease still likes to rear its ugly head and challenge my sobriety. It’s like having a little devil on your shoulder that says, “Come on! Look at you! You’re so put together and everything is going great. Surly, you could have just one drink. Surly, you wouldn’t go back to where you were before.” And, that’s when I have to mentally squash that little devil because I know without a doubt that if I ever took even one drink again it would lead me exactly back to where I used to be. And, I truly believe it would kill me. Maybe not immediately; maybe not in a violent way, but, in the end, I believe I would die from alcohol-related reasons. I don’t know about you, but that scares the hell out of me and that’s something I’m not willing to risk – even for one drink.

I have had friends who have identified as alcoholics and addicts who ultimately decided that they could drink again. I don’t dislike them for making that decision, but I know for the safety of my own sobriety I can’t hang out with them anymore. Similarly, I don’t dislike my fellow blogger for the decision she ultimately made, however, I think sharing that decision with an audience of mostly sober people is irresponsible and dangerous.

It’s not my intent to create a big controversy, however, I think it’s important for those of us in recovery to defend our sobriety and remind others why we’re here.

31 responses

  1. Chenoa, you have every right to your anger but calling me out publicly without talking to me privately first is hurtful and unkind. I didn’t consult a medical professional when I diagnosed myself as an alcoholic 3 years ago but I consulted one before I wrote my post. Those details are private, but I thought you should know I didn’t just pull this idea out of my butt.

    I was very hesitant to post about this phase of my journey but what convinced me to do it was watching a good friend with a drinking problem resist getting help because she’s afraid it’s going to mean she has an incurable, life-long disease called alcoholism. My message to her (and others who resist help for the same reason) is just stop drinking. It’s ok to question whether or not you’re an alcoholic. Don’t worry about what it means, don’t worry about the label, don’t worry about anything but saving your life. It saved my life when I stopped drinking. Questioning saved my life. Seeking the answers for myself saved my life.

    I put a trigger warning for a reason and hope that people take it seriously. When I was in early sobriety, I couldn’t read a Cooking Light magazine during the holiday season because of all the alcohol ads. I had to take care of myself. A woman emailed me after reading my post on sexual molestation and told me that it triggered a flashback for her. At first, she said she was angry at me for posting it and then she said she saw it as a gift because it opened up something inside of her that needed to be confronted. If I censor my truth because I’m afraid of what feelings it will bring up in others, I’m not much of a truth teller. That’s why I blog, Chenoa. I trust people enough to not shy away from difficult subjects because facing them can be a gift.

  2. But what if she’s really not an alcoholic, Chenoa? What if, for lack of a better term, she simply called herself one and quit drinking and began to heal the areas of her life that needed healing?

    I agree we need to defend our sobriety…our own sobriety. But in order to defend it, we must be put into situations where we have that chance to defend it. Does that make sense? It’s like if we pray for strength, does god make us strong or does god give us opportunities to be strong?

    I think there’s a lot of gray area in labels of addiction. I know many of us self-medicated with alcohol, and then developed a physical addiction for alcohol. But what happens when that physical addiction is broken and those wounds that we were medicating have healed? Can we return to moderate drinking? I don’t know. I don’t have the answers, but I know they’re different for everyone.

    I certainly don’t think she, or you, or anyone needs to censor their truth. I don’t think she was irresponsible; she placed a trigger warning, and she told the only truth she had–her own. Plus, most of us all have those thoughts and questions at some point. But instead of hiding them, she put them out there in the light for us all.

    At one point in my early sobriety it may have bothered me, but now I see we can learn so much from these situations and conversations. I wish we had more of them to examine our own thoughts and reactions.

    I liked her post because it got me thinking. I like your post because it got me vocalizing some of those things I was thinking. I think you both brought your truths and you’ll both get folks examining their own motives and sobriety. That’s a very good thing!

  3. I share Chenoa’s point of view. A post like this has no place in a sober blog. We know very well how to question our illness. We do not need help in that respect. Thank you very much.

  4. I like you life uncorked thought it was a terrible thing to write about. She relapses and is not being honest which is one of the major things one has to do in sobriety. We all question if we are alcoholics. It was really hard for me to come to that truth. If I can’t predict how I will be taking a drink then I think for me that defines me as an alcoholic. And now that I am 140 days in I don’t think a drink is worth it trying to see.

    Blogs were the very first thing I looked to for help. If I would have seen that first hmmmm I don’t know what it would have done but it definitely doesn’t belong in a sobriety blog. Musings got mad at me too. I just asked her what did it. And she did not answer honestly.

  5. Karen may not be an alcoholic. That, of course, is self-diagnosed and up to her to decide. Time will tell. If Karen does return to drinking and finds her life spirally out of control, I hope that she comes back to her blog and shares her experience along the way.

  6. Hi again! I maintain what I wrote previously 100%, but (and I more specifically address Karen), please accept my apologies. I wasn’t aware of the fact that her “confession” happened in her own blog. Yes, of course, she has every right to write whatever she wants in her own blog. Really sorry. Have a good day!

  7. I understand your POV, Chenoa, as I understand Karen’s. I am not in a position to judge either. As I mentioned to Karen, my first knee-jerk reaction was righteous indignation and then I came to saw that it’s not my story or my journey. We all have our paths, and who am I to put a value or some label on it? I don’t say this is a gainsaying of this post, Chenoa. I am sure you vocalized what others may have been thinking. Or not. No idea. In the end, it’s not my place to take any learning experiences from anyone. Detach with love. Al-anon stuff…lol.

    For this alkie, I know I can’t drink. Ever. Again. I tried countless times to control it and it controlled me. King Alcohol and I was the servant. But that’s not everyone’s truth. I am not the arbitrator of other people’s sobriety or non-sobriety. All we do is share our experience, strength and hope. That’s what our blogs are for. Many other bloggers go back and forth in their drinking, starting at day 1 again. We read it all the time, we know folks like that in real life. My job is to be there when needed.

    My drinking or non-drinking is between me and God. As it is with anyone else. I do understand what you say about the newcomer and the perception. I don’t think anyone disputes that alcoholism kills. But there are many paths and in the end, I can only worry about my own recovery.

    Like Christy said, I think both your post and Karen’s make good food for thought, and perhaps will have us all look a little bit deeper and seek our truths.

    🙂

    Paul

  8. Thank you for this post. It seems like every time I turn around, someone has “fallen off the wagon” or is experimenting with moderation. Frankly, it scares me. Not for them. For me. I am not comfortable in thinking this way. I am also a firm believer in what you put in you put out. Therefore, if I read about people who choose one way over another and are testing, experimenting what ever it is to be called, I get freaked out. I cannot read on. I know for me I cannot ever have a drink. I am a disgrace when I do. I am mean, malicious and rude. But taking away the drink by itself is only the surface. I am still mean, malicious and rude when I don’t drink if I do not get help (AA, therapy, journaling, blogging, exercising, reading, etc). My truth is that I am an alcoholic.. If I ever get the notion in my head that I am anything but, please cyber slap me and let me know that the cunning, baffling and powerful part of my alcoholism snuck in the back door.
    I try to remember that my journey will not work for others and therefore, theirs will not work for me. Not right or wrong; it’s just different.
    Thanks, Chenoa. This was helpful to me.
    Hugs,
    Linda

  9. I think what was missed is that Mended Musings has found that she doesn’t fit the box of alcoholic – why should that piss anyone off? She did not ‘fall off the wagon’ – she is not responsible for anyone’s sobriety and can post what she feels in her space. There is no right path in this life –

    I have known this person for over 25 years – and irresponsible she is not… and her journey and struggles should not be insulting to you. She works her ass off every day of her life to be thoughtful and introspective about her behavior and how she works within the scope of her life. What she does will never negate what you have worked for in your journey of sobriety.

    Again – it is her space to share her thoughts. She does not propose to be a specialist, nor does she require that anyone read her posts. But it is always ok to feel a gut reaction to something someone has written and write your own thoughts about it. I don’t take that away from anyone.
    I respect what you wrote and your feelings, but I need to stand up for someone I’m very fond of.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Rutabaga

  10. I love your post. I can understand how you feel. When I first decided to stop drinking, I began to follow a number of blogs written by people who identified as alcoholic and were sharing their journey to sobriety. I used these blogs as guides to the who, what, where, when and how I would feel. They were like maps to recovery for me.
    Any time someone I was following would relapse, try to moderate or give up the fight to stay sober, under a recovery, alcoholic or AA tag, I would immediately stop following them. It would hit to hard and too close to what I was working so hard NOT to do. To not drink.
    In light of that, everyone has their right to post whatever they like in their own space. I have restrained myself so many times from writing a comment on a relapse blog, like come on I am working so hard here, why did you do that? or WTF? So, I can understand that you feel hurt.
    I liken it to watching television, when the show you are watching offends you, change the channel.
    If a blogger you have come to admire, follow, and empathize with decides to take a different path, click that follow button at the top, and stop reading.
    That’s what I will do.

  11. To quote the book Alcoholics Anonymous from the chapter More About Alcoholism… “If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right- about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him.” That was the defining thing for me – I couldn’t I tried long and hard… as the next sentence in the book says… “Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people!”
    So I can hear someone say this and have a decision to make … try to drink normally like they have been able to do or continue to identify as an alcoholic and practice a programme of abstinence from alcohol. Today I chose the latter – simply because my experience over the years preceding my admittance to a rehab (where to be fair I was clinically diagnosed as alcoholic dependent) I had failed remorselessly to be successful as a “normal drinker”.
    I wish Karen well – I hope she is successful in her normal drinking life. I however chose not to run the risk that I can’t be a normal drinker ever again… I actually like being a recovering alcoholic so for today I’ll stay one.

  12. I am just surfing the sobriety world these last few weeks and learning much about it. I respect and appreciate everyone’s views , I can definetly understand the frustration too when someone decides they’re not an “alcoholic” in the blogging world of sobriety. I know there are so many defining terms from high or low functioning ; to high or low dependency; ruining ones family and your own life and health ; to someone getting by each day drinking for years and no one ever knowing you have a problem. Is it possible for someone who says they are an alcoholic to then “relapse” and then have the occasional drink or two and never get “drunk”? Then still be “sober”. I really have no idea, thats why I am searching here. I know one thing, I got scared straight, and hope to be bloggin stories soon. Thanks for this.

  13. Hi Chenoa…I really liked this post “I take my sobriety seriously.” I too think it was terribly irresponsible of her to post that. Yes, you can post whatever you want. However, if you presume to offer blogging thoughts and advice to those in recovery, you owe it to them not to post about your “going back out” regardless of your reasons for going back out. In that sense, it’s actually immoral to post what she posted. It would be better for her to simply go off into that good night on her own, not posting anything. Of course, when she returns after trying sobriety again, it would be ok to post about what she did and how bad it went . Anyway, you showed lots of courage and you did it with character and grace. Thanks. Mike

  14. Well, it’s a good thing I was on hiatus. I might have had more to say. As such, I will say this. I love your blog and your sobriety. That you pursue this journey with discipline is a gift to all who read your blog. While I see both paths, I know this for sure: If I were to pick up a drink and now declare myself a non-alcoholic it would seriously, seriously mess-up a lot of people. People lean on me for guidance and integrity. I lean on others for friendship and fellowship. We affect one another when we write. For me, alcoholism is synonymous with humanism. We are all ill, we just have different issues to work through. Thank you for having the courage to post. And I just love you. Lisa

  15. I’m in the early stages (days, even) of my recovery, and I’m here. I’m listening. Thank you for doing what you’re doing, writing what you’re writing, and encouraging those like me who intend to follow your lead and “work our asses” off for recovery. It means a lot to have strong leaders who’ve paved the way, willing to share their journey. So thank you. xx

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