Two Years : Experience, Strength, Hope
You guys, that’s a super strange thing to be. For the past 10+ years I have written about my life on the Internet. When I started, I had absolutely no filter. There was no need! No one read blogs, hardly anyone even knew what they were. The only people reading here regularly were my best friends from college. I complained, I moaned, I made fun of people. I talked about people in a way I NEVER would today. I wrote about stories that were not mine to share. I broke confidentiality in the name of a funny blog post. It was understood amongst my inner circle of friends…if it happened, it was going on the blog.
But things change. And as I grew up, so did this blog. Once I had my first child, I started holding back when I shared. My story wasn’t just mine anymore (and in reality, it never was). I worried about portraying people in a negative way, about being inauthentic, about exaggerating for humorous effect. All of a sudden, it didn’t seem worth it. I still tried to write, but it was more difficult and more nuanced. I started writing about style, music and things I liked, instead of writing about my life. I started taking more photos, eventually leaning on photography to tell the story I felt I couldn’t anymore.
And then social media appeared on the scene. Now my readers (my friends) had their own outlets. They didn’t need to read and comment here. They posted on Facebook and Twitter, then on Snapchat and Instagram and Vine. My readership changed. Soon I realized I didn’t really know who I was talking to. And while you’d think that would be freeing, it was actually terrifying.
For someone like me, the idea of crafting an online persona is intoxicating. A former nerdy outcast, all I had ever wanted was to make other people happy. I just wanted you to like me. This was my real life dilemma, and it become an online one as well. I had no idea who I really was because I spent so much time trying to be what you or he or they wanted me to be.
But two years ago, I made a big change in my life, and that change has rippled out to completely redesign what this blog is all about. For two years I’ve wanted to talk about this change, but I’ve been afraid. Just admitting that is so scary. Because when you’re authentic and honest, you open yourself up for judgement and criticism. And for me, that judgement hurts all the more because it’s the REAL me being judged. It’s not some fake persona created for the Internet. It’s me.
You might be wondering why this birthday didn’t come up on your Facebook feed or on your calendar. But this isn’t that kind of birthday. Two years ago today, my entire life changed. I didn’t know it at the time. Honestly, at the time I felt like my life was going to crash down around me. But looking back, I can say that today was the best day of my life. Because today is the day I chose to stop hiding, stop numbing and start living my life again.
Today I am a person in long term recovery, which for me means it’s been two years since my last drink of alcohol. Two years since I decided that numbing myself at night to deal with my life wasn’t a healthy way to continue living. I think many of us have been there…working parents, overstressed, overworked and under appreciated. For me, I felt like I was constantly running, with no finish line in site. No matter how hard I worked or how much I loved my family, I felt like I could never get my head above water. I was drowning.
For a long time, I used alcohol to deal with this stress and constant feeling of overwhelm. I felt like I “deserved it” because I worked so hard. I did so much for everyone else, so why shouldn’t I get to relax at the end of the day? Well, that’s all well and good, until you can no longer relax without that glass clinking in front of you…and before I knew it, the glass had turned into two and then three and so on.
When I think about this day two years ago, I remember feeling hopeless. I felt so alone, like this huge problem was sitting on my shoulders and I had to carry it all alone. I was ashamed and afraid. I knew I couldn’t go on like I had been, but I didn’t know how to stop. I had no coping skills without wine. Wine was how I celebrated, how I cried, how I relaxed. But I knew it had to stop, or it would only get worse. For me, there was no way up as long as I kept drinking.
I didn’t want to write this today. I’ve written about this journey before (namely here and here), but never on my own website. I’ve never talked directly to my readers (you) about this. But I’m learning when I don’t speak out, it hurts people like me. The only reason I was able to get the help I so desperately needed was because other women spoke out and I listened. I think there is real power and strength in showing the world that this issue can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, education, race…it does not discriminate. But recovery is possible. It really is. And it’s an amazing way to live.
In the last two years, my world has changed in immeasurable ways. It isn’t easy rewiring your brain and learning a new way to deal with life. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But as long as I keep at it, my journey gets more and more fulfilling. Today, two years later, I am thriving. My depression lifted. I lost 30 pounds. I created my own business and now my passion is my work. My body is healthier than it’s ever been. I’m a happier mother, wife and friend. My life is so much better.
I know some people would scold me for sharing this with you all. Trust me, I’ve thought of all the reasons I shouldn’t. It could hurt my business. It could make you look at me differently. Maybe you’ll stop reading all together. I get it.
But in the end, I couldn’t NOT share this part of my story. It’s been such a huge part of my life and keeping it secret seemed inauthentic. I hope by writing this here, maybe someone who’s struggling will see there is a happy future waiting for them too. And maybe they can learn there is NOTHING to be ashamed of. Asking for help does not make you weak, it makes you brave. The people I’ve met on this journey are some of the most courageous that I’ve ever met. They are the kindest, most fun, loving people I’ve had the privilege of knowing. There is so much hope for anyone who is still struggling with this problem. Recovery is possible. I am proof.
If you’re suffering, try going here. There are tons of resources that have helped me, and can help you too.
happy birthday friend. You win at life 🙂
Thanks, friend! You have been there since the beginning, cheering me on 🙂 I’m grateful to have you in my life!
Happy Birthday, beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing and Happy 2nd Anniversary! Wishing you many more ????
Thank you! It was a wonderful 24 hours, and today is another beautiful 24 hours. Hoping for many more to come 🙂
What a beautiful story. You help me to realise how much of a journey we go through when coming into, and continuing in, recovery. It is epic. And we are miracles. I came up to three years sober last month. It still feels like yesterday, I hope I never forget that gift of desperation. I am truly blessed to be on a journey with women like you. Thank you, truly, for sharing your experience.
Oh, the gift of desperation…I hope I never forget how that felt! I’m so thankful for that moment of pure surrender. I think about it often, and where I’d be had I not listened. Congrats on three years! That’s incredible. You’re a miracle <3
Happy Birthday! These are the best birthdays, they are not about getting older, instead they are about living each day in the moment.
So true! Every single day I can wake up clear-headed and go to be with a clear conscience is a beautiful day in my book. I’m living one day, and sometimes one moment, at a time 🙂
You are so brave! Happy soberversary to you. I am over ten months sober and a former blogger. I totally understand keeping things private for a while, and you are also right that sharing inspires others. Reading about other women’s sober journeys has been a critical part of my own recovery. Hats off to you for putting your story out there.
I think the best part of this whole journey has been learning to trust my own intuition again. For so long, I felt like I couldn’t trust myself. But now I know when something feels right (or wrong) and usually I can decide what to do next instead of ignoring it. I wanted to write this two years ago, but it didn’t feel right. Now it feels right. Congrats on 10 months!!! What an incredible accomplishment!
I relate to SO much of your story. I had a relationship with wine. It was the worst break up of my life but also the one that saved me. Good for you for keeping it real. After all, it is your writing space. If you lose readers, then they were never genuine and it’s not really a loss. I have 5 1/2 years. Sobriety is my constant. It’s the one thing I know about myself. When everything is crazy and I feel out of control (mainly due to motherhood) it’s the one solid thing deep in my soul that I know is true. Happy Birthday and keep writing about it. Reading Stefanie’s post on Baby on Bored and the comments from others like me gave me the power to tackle what I knew was an issue for a long time. By writing you have that power to help others who are also struggling and need that bit of “oh Jesus, that’s me” to propel them forward. And thank you.
Oh Clara, this rings so true for me! I always think of wine as like an old boyfriend. It was an awful breakup, but there are still days when I look back and only think of the good times. But the bad times FAR outweigh the good, and I knew that if I kept going, I wouldn’t have anything left. So far, I’ve actually been so humbled by the outpouring of positive support since I posted this blog post. I actually talked with Stefanie and other blogger/writers before I posted this, and they all told me it was one of the most positive experiences of their lives…it’s so wonderful to have a tribe of wonderful women behind me. And congrats on 5 1/2 years! So amazing!
Thank you for sharing and happy birthday! Today is my 1/2 year birthday as I celebrate 6 months sans alcohol myself. I too have dropped weight (20lbs) and it feels amazing! Your blog on today is so important to me because in this week, I have been questioning this sobriety thing and have felt extreme temptation to take a drink as I deal with some really hard things in my life. I completely relate to finding new ways to cope and the difficulty in rewiring the brain. Again, thank you. I will look forward to my 2 year birthday 🙂
Happy 6 month birthday!!! The first 6 months are so difficult, you should be so proud of yourself. I remember when I had 6 months, one guy said to me, “Now you can tell people you’re closing in on a year!” Ha! It’s definitely a one day at a time deal for me, but it feels good to celebrate these accomplishments as well 🙂