Woke up to blue skies and twittering birds and a much greater sense of equanimity. It was so nice to get such supportive comments on my last post, and, because it’s been so helpful to me in the past to spout off and be heard, I wanted to expand just a little on Mary LA‘s:
One of the uses of a blog for me is that we can say what goes unsaid in daily conversation or letters or over the phone. It does make a difference to say it — and perhaps robs the desire of its power.
I was fortunate in my first week of sobriety to find an online recovery forum where conversations were searching, honest, for the most part supportive, full of humor and playfulness, and often went off on wild tangents about books, food, dogs, religion–you name it. For me, finding a safe place to talk about my past and present struggles with alcoholism–and a lot of the issues that made drinking so attractive–was key. I really needed people who’d been through it, could understand, and didn’t judge me, and who modeled what life without wine could be like. The online venue worked well for me, reduced my usual apprehensiveness about putting feelings out where people could see them, being the center of attention, all that.
Over time, I began to see that emerging from a life of heavy drinking was taking off layer after layer of veils, masks, bulletproof vests–full suits of armor–I’d used to disguise and protect myself. It wasn’t just about exposing myself as an alcoholic–hard enough for most of us–it was about exposing all those dark secret areas of vulnerability that I used alcohol to cover up.
Those things we’re afraid to tell the people closest to us? They still need to be said somewhere, or they fester and grow. Sometimes it feels safer to say them to strangers on the internet, I suppose because we can click on a button and erase them from our lives if we feel the need. But it’s also practice: saying those things to people I don’t know has given me courage to say at least some of them to people I do. And gradually, too, there’s been some overlap: strangers have become friends.
For me, there is an advantage to limiting to a few trusted friends the people in my real life who know about my blog. I guess I still want some control over what I present in different worlds. Not particularly admirable, openness and trust are values I support, but it feels safer. Maybe in time that’ll change. I hope so. Speaking the truth, coming out of hiding, has been an essential tool in my recovery. Extending it to all of life is a goal worth aspiring to (secure in the knowledge it’ll never happen).