Something interesting has happened in the week since my first Soberthday, and I have to share. If you’re newly sober and still worried about how people will react when they find out, this post is for you. It’s a quick one and I haven’t word-smithed it, so please excuse the writing …
I inadvertently outed myself Friday night. Big time. It’s not that I was hiding. Not at all. But, for the most part I do not share my recovery story on my personal Facebook page. And, the one time I sort of shared it, only a few people said anything. Again, I’m not looking for support in places where it doesn’t exist, and I don’t want special attention for being a sober achiever. But, it’s a strange feeling when you suspect people know about your addiction and steps you’re taking to stay sober, but you don’t know for sure whether they know because no one is saying anything.
Anyway, back to Friday night. That’s when the Huffington Post picked up my one year Soberthday essay. I was so excited to share that I clicked on the Facebook Like button and wrote a comment to post to my Quit Wining Facebook page. It didn’t post. I tried again. Nothing. Wait. Maybe it posted to my personal Facebook. Check my wall. Nope. Nothing there. OK, fine. So, I gave up and posted a link to the article directly on the Quit Wining page. Done.
Except, the other comment and link did post to my personal Facebook. It just wasn’t visible to me. Anywhere. So I had no idea. Until the likes and comments started flooding in. And then it was too late. I couldn’t delete it after people had taken the time to read my essay and then so generously and kindly offer their beautiful words of love, support, and encouragement. That would be rude.
“Oh, crap,” I said. “Oh, crappity crap.” And, I let it ride.
People’s reactions have not been what I would have expected. Not at all. And, that’s why I am sharing. I think so many of us are afraid of what people will think or say or not think or say that we don’t let ourselves “recover out loud.” I’m not saying everyone in recovery should start a blog or write a memoir. Nor do I think any of us need to make a formal public announcement of any sort. But, I do think we need to have some faith in those around us and perhaps consider being a bit less inhibited when it comes to our recovery journeys.
Honestly, if someone cannot embrace your commitment to sobriety, let them go. I am all about ridding myself of toxicity these days. And, there are plenty of toxic people out there.
At the same time, to put it in Facebook terms, be mindful of those who are unable to “click like” or offer a supportive “comment.” It may be that they’re struggling, too – perhaps they’re unable to come to terms with their own addiction and the way you’ve chosen to live is making them squirm a bit.
I received dozens of likes and comments from friends and relatives. No one said anything negative. I don’t think I expected them to. But, I also didn’t anticipate the outpouring of support. Everyone was so positive – congratulating my achievement, applauding my writing, etc. My favorite comment is this one:
We gain so much more than we lose when we embrace the gifts of sobriety. Your blog is one of those gifts, Laura. It’s very telling that your first act of sobriety was sharing that gift with the world. Thank you!
And, one friend shared with me that she is in her third year of sobriety!
The culmination of this beautiful outing myself experience came last night. I was at a client meeting. A older man (his kids are my age) I deeply admire and respect was also there. He caught my eye without anyone else noticing. And he said, “So you just completely changed your image.” “You saw that, huh,” I replied. He smiled and told me how much he respects me. I can’t put a value on that. It’s a moment I will hold in my heart forever.
Hi Laura. I’m still lurking and loving and reading and learning. Thank you for this post. Every time I visit your site I am closer to understanding myself and my decision to go along for the ride on a sober journey all my own. One day I will out myself too. Until then please keep sharing. –Lurker