I Am Not Anonymous

Who I Am

A few weeks ago I received an email from a writer for Dr. Oz’s website The Good Life. She had discovered my blog and wanted to interview me for a story she was doing for Alcohol Awareness Month in April. She felt my recovery journey would resonate with many of their readers, the majority being women. My initial response was surprise, gratitude – and fear.

Those who know me are aware of my story and while I have written about my experience here on my blog, I have always had a sense of security knowing that my audience is fairly small; that I had some (realistic or not) control over who knew about my journey and recovery from alcoholism.

For some, I suppose it would be an easy decision. I mean, come on – it’s Dr. freakin’ Oz! For better or worse, he’s probably the most well known Dr. in the world thanks to Oprah and daytime television. But, for me, I was hesitant to have my story profiled on such a large medium. You see, I’m really happy living my little life on our little farm here in Oregon. Yes, I’m open with my story, but I never set out to be the poster girl for “stay at home moms who are recovering alcoholics.”

I questioned how much attention I really wanted. Because, really, there are times I’d like to crawl under a rock and leave it all behind me. To not be known for what I used to be, but known for who I am now. But, that’s just it. I am who I am today because of my past. And, after talking it over with my husband and going through all the maybes and maybe nots, I realized that this was way bigger than me. In fact, it wasn’t about me at all. This was about glorifying God. My story is His story. I’m but a messenger. And, when I began looking at it that way, it made my decision easy. Of course, I would share HIS story of faith, love, forgiveness and redemption.

Some may say, “But wait, aren’t you supposed to be anonymous? Aren’t you supposed to be hiding behind the tradition of anonymity?” And, my response to that would be, “Who am I helping by being anonymous?” We are taught “You are only as sick as your secrets” yet so many of us choose to keep our sobriety secret out of respect to an outdated tradition. For fear of what others will think, say or do.

Sharing your truth is a personal decision. For me, God made that decision for me when I got sober. It wasn’t anything I did to bring me out of the despair of alcoholism – believe me, I had tried before. It was by the grace of God that I went to that first meeting, took my first coin and continue to wake up each morning sober, and grateful.

I will continue to speak my truth – His truth. And, by the grace of God others will experience the gift of sobriety.

Please click here if you would like to read the article featured on Dr. Oz’s website.

 

Disclaimer: I was not paid or endorsed for my story. My ultimate wish is that other women like myself will find courage to seek help.

Drink – A Book Review

A quick note to my fellow recovery bloggers and aspiring writers: if you haven’t yet tried it, I suggest using Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because you never know what us drunks are capable of (kidding!) – and it’s way more fun to read original stuff!

Drink Pic

As many of you know, I love recovery-related books. Before I ever got sober, I was reading books about people who had been there, done that. At the time, I secretly had concerns over my own drinking, but it would be months before I admitted I had a problem. And, then when I finally did get sober, I had this overwhelming need to know that there were other “normal” people like me out there who had gone through the same thing. That was a very lonely time for me and the voices that came through the pages of those books took away some of that loneliness and gave me hope.

Ann Dowsett Johnston’s recent book, “Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol” is one of those books that give us hope. But, not only does she give us hope by sharing her own experience with alcoholism and recovery; she gives us knowledge with her in-depth research regarding what has truly become an epidemic in our culture, stating, “We need to have a robust discussion about this issue: How does alcohol play out in your community? In terms of suicides? Kids being abused? Violence? Teens in emergency rooms? Are we having an adult discussion? I don’t think so.”

As I read about Johnston’s own experience with alcoholism, I found myself nodding my head, thinking, “that’s exactly how I felt!” Sometimes it’s hard for me to put into words what my alcoholism was like, but Johnston explains it perfectly when she says,”Suddenly, you realize booze has moved in. He’s in your kitchen. He’s in your bedroom. He’s at your dinner table, taking up two spaces, crowding out your loved ones. Before you know it, he starts waking you up in the middle of the night, booting you in the gut at a quarter to four. You have friends over and he causes a scene. He starts showing you who’s boss. Booze is now calling the shots.”

One of the main differences in Johnston’s book compared to other recovery-related books that I have read is that Johnston takes it a step further and really addresses the core issues related to drinking, women and our culture. She raises key questions, such as “why are we aware of the dangers related to trans fats and tanning beds, and blissfully unaware of the more serious side effects associated with our favorite drug?” And, most importantly in my opinion, she takes aim and questions the motives behind the alcohol industry, media and politics and how they all work together to feed this growing rise of drinking and alcoholism among women. Giving the history behind the alcohol industry to attract more women, she describes the development of “alcopop” or “chick beer,” and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the loads of Zima, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice I used to drink.

Johnston urges us to educate ourselves about the serious risks of drinking and to start having real conversations about it. “When it comes to alcohol, we live in a culture of denial. With alcoholics representing just a tiny fraction of the population, it’s the widespread normalization of heavier consumption that translates to serious trouble.”

I often think about what I’ll tell my kids about drinking. While I would love to tell them to never touch it and avoid it like the plague, I know that’s not realistic. But, I will tell them the risks. I will tell them my story and how easy it is to get caught up in a culture that normalizes drinking. I will tell them they have a history and they need to be very, very careful. I will tell them that no matter what, they never HAVE to drink. And, I will tell them that alcohol changes you. It changes the person God intended you to be.

Johnston’s book inspires me. It inspires me to tell my story and do my part in telling the truth about drinking.

As a side note, I was not paid for this review – I simply liked the book. However, this post was sponsored by Grammarly.

My American Heart

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Like so many of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s going on in our country right now. I’m sad, I’m angry and at times I feel very helpless and hopeless. I worry about what kind of ramifications all of our current problems will have on my children as they grow up and reach adulthood. I see a divide that continues to grow larger and larger between our political parties and those who were elected by and for the people. I see families and friendships being torn a part by opposing political views; each pointing their finger at the other. I see hatred being spewed across social media and people “defriending” each other on Facebook because of what one person supports and what the other doesn’t.

What I fail to see is the common American heart that exists in all of us and the common love we have for our country. The very fact that I can sit here and write this is an AMAZING freedom – one that is denied to many in other parts of the world. The fact that I can sit in my RCIA class at our church on Thursday evenings and talk about God, Jesus and Catholicism would be cause for death in many countries. As a woman, I can wear what I want to wear, say what I want to say and go where I want to go, which is simply unheard of in other countries.

My point isn’t to remind you of all the privileges and freedoms we have as Americans, my point is to ask “What happened? And, how did we get here?” How did we become so divided and so angry at each other? When did the “American Dream” become a bad thing? When did patriotism become something to be ashamed of? Do I agree with everything that happens in this country? No. Is life always fair? No. But,  I do believe that no matter where you are born in this country, who you are born to, what kind of conditions you are born into, everyone and I mean EVERYONE has the freedom and opportunity to achieve a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in their lives.

I can’t help but make the comparison to my program of recovery. When we walk into the rooms of a recovery meeting, we see people of all colors, races and backgrounds. Some were born with a lot, some were born with nothing. Some have supportive families and friends, some have no one. But, we are all there for the same purpose and we are all freely given the same tools to help us recover and achieve sobriety. Some rush out of gate, determined and destined to achieve sobriety on the first try; some take it slower and steadily do the work, eventually achieving their goal; others try and fail over and over again until they finally “get” it; and then, sadly, there are those who never make it despite all the tools and support they are given.

What our leaders (if you can even call them that) fail to remember, is that most of us in our little towns and big cities are just trying to do our best to achieve that “American Dream.” From a small age, we’ve tried to do everything the “right” way. We’ve gone to school, got a job, worked hard, supported our family, loved our children – yet, we are left wondering “Does any of it really matter?”

Yes, it matters! Because, despite the hopelessness I sometimes feel, I am teaching my children that, while not perfect, they live in a beautiful and strong country that will provide them with all the necessary tools to thrive and be successful, caring and empathetic human beings.

Nothing and no one can take that hope away from me.

The Better Mom

A Safe Place

I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it…

– Revelation 3:8

I follow a lot of blogs, both sober blogs and lifestyle blogs. When I first got sober, I scoured the web for sober blogs – something that would speak to me, that I could relate to. It was a very lonely time for me and I needed to know there were other women who were going through the same thing I was, and more importantly, other women who had survived it. One of those blogs was Crying Out Now. The author, Ellie, is a recovering alcoholic and created the blog so women could have a safe place to talk about addiction and recovery, “telling our truths, and breaking down the walls of stigma and denial surrounding addiction – One Story at a Time.”

Crying Out Now was a huge source of comfort for me when I first got sober and continues to be a source of support and inspiration, mainly from the amazing stories I read about other women who are going through the same challenges and joys of recovery. In addition to her blog, Ellie has recently started a podcast series called The Bubble Hour, which she hosts along with her co-founder, Lisa, where they share stories about addiction and recovery through readings and interviews.

Today, Ellie announced on her blog that she has created an umbrella organization, Shining Strong, to bring together both Crying Out Now and The Bubble Hour. In an effort to inform people, she created a video which is both informational and inspirational. Please go to Shining Strong and watch it – you’ll be amazed.

Seeking help for alcoholism and other addictions is scary. I knew I was an alcoholic long before I admitted it or sought help for it. However, when I finally did it was blogs like Crying Out Now that inspired me to get the help I needed. If you or someone you know is struggling right now, go to these sites, watch the video and know that you are not alone – you are NEVER alone.

To Blog, Or Not To Blog

I’ve dabbled in blogging before, but never followed through. In fact, following through with things, or should I say the lack of following through with things, has been an issue of mine for a long time. I have every great intention, but then the fear hits me. The fear of what people will think; the fear of not being successful; ultimately the fear of not being good enough. Getting sober has helped me deal with this fear, but it still lurks in the corners of my mind, waiting to pounce on any doubt I might have of my ability to take a leap of faith.

I’ve prayed, pondered and talked with friends and family about starting this blog. Should I? Why? What do I have to say that someone else isn’t already saying? What I kept coming back to is my desire and passion to share my story. It doesn’t mean I think my story is unique or better than anyone else’s story; it just means that I have a story and more than that, I have a story and a willingness share it with others. You see, women like me are not alcoholics – at least that’s what most people would like to believe. How could an educated, middle-class mother of two sink to the depths of alcoholism? I don’t fit the mold and that is exactly why I need to share my story. For whatever reason, God has put me in this position to help others – to give a voice to those of us who don’t fit the mold, yet are struggling in silence. Behind the “perfect” life people perceive we are living, we are suffering and falling further and further into the depths of alcoholism and addiction.

For the grace of God and the support of amazing family and friends, I have made it to the other side. I am recovering. Before getting sober, I couldn’t imagine a life without alcohol. But, there is life – a wonderful, amazing life. I want this blog to be a testimony to what a sober life can look like. It’s not perfect, but it’s real.

I’m going to do my best to not let fear get in the way of sharing my story with you. I want this to be an open and honest forum where we can inspire and support each other. I hope you’ll join me in taking the plunge!