On this 3,000th day of my sobriety, I sit here amazed. I’m amazed at myself, of the life I’ve created, and at how damn difficult this journey has been. I’m even more amazed that so many people out there are still suffering in silence. My heart is troubled lately, as I’ve realized how big of an epidemic this really is. Alcoholism isn’t what I’m referring to – it’s the stigma. This stigma is a salivating beast and a force to be reckoned with. I’ve joined the mission to kick its dirty little ass.
Off the top of my head, I can think of about 20 people who I know personally, struggling with alcoholism and problem-drinking. A handful is in the closet, dealing with their spouse’s drinking, some are getting divorced, and the others live in their own private drinking hells. People have confided in me – it’s awesome and a little scary – but mostly it’s a kick in my ass to get louder. So many are miserable, but very few are talking about it. Shame is all around us. I hate shame. This silence feeds the stigma, which, in turn, enables denial. Maybe more of us would have turned our lives around sooner, had we known more about this shit and the real people going through it. Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate like stigma does – it takes idiots and scholars, assholes and saints, wealthy and poor, good-looking and fugly, strong and weak, and everything in-between. We are no more flawed than anyone, we are not a disgrace. It’s addiction, not a plague. We, in recovery, are not victims, we are warriors. Sometimes we fall – we get right back up. We are brave and amazing sons of bitches. And we must help others get out of the dark.
Knowledge nugget: You don’t have to join AA or get anywhere near the 12 steps to recover. I am proof of that with 3,000 days, dude! This misconception is driven by AA, and has ultimately fed fear and stigma. There’s no right or wrong way to recover. Recovery is yours. You don’t have to have a plan – the only plan I’ve had is: don’t drink. You don’t have to claim powerlessness. You don’t have to be anonymous! You don’t have to go to meetings. I’ve done just fine without meetings and some would even argue that I’m better off. Support is essential, whatever that means for you. I started off with a few close family members’ support. My greatest source of support these days has been from social media. More about that later. For now, as I revel in the last hour of my 3,000th day in recovery, I leave you with this…To my friends in recovery – you are never alone and I’m so proud of you. I’m here if you need anything. To those who are struggling, afraid to reach out for help – you can find your strength, it’s there, and we can help you. To all the sorry sacks out there that support this stigma – suck it and stay tuned.
Thanks for reading,
6 thoughts on “3,000 Days Sober! No more stigma…”
As I wake in the early hours with that horrible guilt feeling and gurgling stomach, I’m starting to feel “is it all worth it”, “am I guzzling the Devils blood to much”, “do I have a problem”, “all my friends drink” and so on, you get the picture yea?
I’m sitting here in the early hours with my 1yr old snuggled in my arms watching kids TV and glued to my phone, reading your story.
Can I just say you write so articulately and I admire your openness with regards to your battles.
I dunno why, or maybe I do, but that gurgley, churning stomach is starting to fill with positive thoughts, scary positive thoughts, but positive never the less.
I seriously want to wish you all the best.
I’m really glad you found me. Guilt is the worst. I completely understand the thoughts and feelings you just shared with me and want you to know that it gets so much better if you want it to. You and your 1-year-old are worth it. Much love. Chrystal
Hi Chrystal, I have been a reader for a while now and am 623 days sober. Just looked at an app for that number! Thanks for this last post. I have been debating whether or not to “come out” as sober. Some friends and extended family know I have quit drinking. All of my immediate family knows. But I want to stop being anonymous. I lied and kept a secret for so many years by being a drunk (most would be surprised at my story), that now I want to stop being quiet. I know the only reason I am quiet is because of the stigma and that is bullshit. And at 623 days, I have earned the right to speak. Anyway, not sure how I will proceed but I know it will happen.
Jim! I’m so proud of you! 623 days is a serious accomplishment. However you decide to “come out”, it will feel so good…but I know how scary it is. Sometimes I’m still afraid of what people will think of me when they find out, but almost always, I learn that someone else is sober, or knows someone, etc…I just got laid off and am looking for work in the tech writing field. I have considered putting my blog up on my LinkedIn profile, as a display of my creative writing, and to highlight that I’m a badass, but just haven’t pulled the trigger. Your comment has reminded me that THIS is exactly what is feeding the stigma. I just pulled the trigger. Now I’m out there and have nothing to hide. Oh boy. Hire me, or not. The fact that I’m sober, and have been for some time, says more about me than the addiction ever could. If full disclosure means they don’t want me, well, fuck ’em. I’ve got better shit to do with people who will appreciate me for all of my awesomeness. I feel a little raw right now, but it had to be done. Thanks buddy. Keep me posted on your joirney…you will rock this…
Well…glad I could help! LOL. I too, like you, really never looked at AA as a spot for me. I admire them for helping so many people. But I am not a religious person and I think that is a semi-requirement to join that club…
Anyway, my one problem with them is the second “A”. Why should there be anonymity? I guess as a personal choice it’s ok. If one wants anonymity because it’s no one’s fucking business…that’s cool. But institutional anonymity (just made up that term!) has kept a lot of people from becoming sober in my opinion. I wanted to see results and know it was going to be okay. You really helped me in my quest for sobriety. I knew from reading your blog that I wasn’t going to necessarily going to fade away from a fun existence just by quitting drinking.
I still miss it sometimes. I whine a bit and my patio is not the same and I mourn that sometimes. But I just snap myself back into reality by getting rid of my fake, romantic notions of my former life. Truth is I never had a glass of wine on my patio. I had 10. And then I didn’t remember the patio. Thank you very much for your part in getting me to this new life.
Thank you very much for thanking me very much! 😉 I don’t know what to say, other than I feel pretty amazing right now. And really proud. We are in this together. I am so happy to be connected, so we can celebrate our uniqueness and our strengths! And whine a little, too… 🙂