So what day are you at in your recovery? 13? 9? Creeping up to one year of sobriety?
When I recently returned to the blogosphere, after a two or so year hiatus, the one thing I did was to scan the sober recovery horizon and try to reconnect with old friends and their sites. I also wanted to explore and reach out to new ones. I was both surprised and not surprised to see that many of my long-term comrades-in-arms were no longer blogging any more. A few had taken long breaks like I did, and they too were returning to the fold. But many others had slowly faded out of the digital sober community. That’s just how it goes in the blogging world.
Many start blogs after spending time lurking and reading other sober blogs, scanning their screens perhaps with drink in hand. They get into recovery and get the itch to share their story, and/or to use their new corner of the universe (as I like to call our blogs) as an online diary of sorts. These bloggers are often day counting and real-timing their very early recovery, both the ups and downs. At the other end of the spectrum are those who have been in recovery for a while longer, and still share about alcoholism and their experiences with it and don’t venture far off the topic. You probably know some of these blogs. You are most likely the wonderful authors behind them.
In the middle, well, that’s where a great deal of movement occurs. What I have seen is many people get past the initial latch of alcoholism’s pull and settle into a new normal. The drama and roller coaster-type emotions start to peter out and level off. Families start to heal. New jobs crop up. New lovers enter the picture. A sense of duty and purpose emerges. Life starts to get shiny and the day counting isn’t as important as it used to be. We aren’t white knuckling it any more. We feel more comfortable in our skin.
And that’s when many people start to move away from their blogs, naturally. The need to document their lives isn’t as important as life turns the corner and they are looking up to the sun rather down at their muddied and shame-splashed shoes. It’s a beautiful shift to witness, and to see those who struggled for so long start to walk out of the haze and into the sunlight of the spirit. I miss their words and their company, but I know that they’re making the best of their new lives.
Then there are others who start to branch out. Not everything is about putting the drink down. The bottles have long ceased to be an issue, and it’s more about navigating life in general. People start to talk more about their interests in life, their family life, their work, their passions, and their hobbies. Some rarely mention recovery any more. But what they have to say, for me, is still interesting, because I know that whatever it is they are talking about is there only because they were able to get and stay in recovery.
For this cat, I am certainly in the latter category. I think it’s important that I examine things through the eyes of recovery, but life is more than just recovery. It’s about, well, life. And while I needed that immersion into the waters of change early on in my sobriety, I didn’t get sober to just sit in meetings all day and stay in that warm bubble of recovery. I say this from experience, having gone through that rough patch where I had to finally leave that warm place of safety and actually go out and live life. It was frightening. But it was necessary, and I am glad I took that leap.
I mention all this because as I continue to start to foster relationships out here on the blogosphere, I see a similar mix of people that I did years ago. The faces and names have changed, but it’s still a healthy blend of newcomers, mid-timers and old timers. I love the support that newcomers / day counters give one another. I love the encouragement they get from others. I also love how they remind me what it’s like out there. What it’s like to come out from the cold, blowing our hands to warm up, glasses fogged up, bodies sweaty and dewy and craving dry shelter from the wet disaster we sloshed around in. It reminds me that I was once there, and to be grateful that I was able to continue doing what has worked for me.
So for that, thank you newcomers.
For the mid-times, I love reading about the new adventures and opportunities that recovery has given them. Whether it be a second career, or how they handle their once cuddly kids as they turn into snarky teens (bless their goth hearts), or becoming warriors in the gym, the boardroom or the soccer pitch. I admire the commitment they have in whatever endeavors they tackle, bridging wisdom with practicality, and handling life’s ugly thorns with dignity and grace. I watch them grow and become more and more comfortable in their lot in life and sharing so much of themselves with others.
So for that, thank you mid-timers.
For the old timers (or long timers, if you wish), there aren’t a lot of them in the sobersphere, but boy do they make their mark. Old timers often circle back into their passion for recovery and are relentless in their desire to give back to others. I admire their ability to keep things simple, to get down to spiritual roots, to look at things in a way that eludes me at first blush. They show that life is more than what we make it out to be, and for me, old timers have always been there to tell me “don’t worry kiddo, you’ve got a lot to learn, but you’re on the right path.” They carry a low-level calming energy I often envy. They say so much without saying a lot. They just are.
So for that, thank you old timers.
So whether you’re one Day 1, or you’re celebrating 35 years, remember that you are where you are meant to be. You matter. We all started on that first shaky day, our trembling hands wiping away tears of regret, guilt and shame. We’ve all been there. Some of us have been there many times. What ties us all together is the desire to find the life we were meant to live, sans liquid numbing agent. We are all a piece of the puzzle, a mosaic of new and lived experiences, of a community which loves us before we can love ourselves.
Keep writing guys. Keep sharing. Whether you are anonymous or not, whether you are writing for the first time since high school or are a professional journalist, whether you’re a stay-at-home mother or the vice-president of a global corporation, just keep writing. People may not comment, but they are reading. People may not thank you right now or ever, but you’re performing a service. You may not think your story is interesting, but to someone else, you’re their hero for sharing it. Who knows, they may start their own blog soon, or open up to their family, or seek the help they need. We aren’t just typing madly in the basement…we’re helping to save lives. To save one another.
And while I don’t count the days any more, I count on every one of you.