How do you bring up recovery?
How do you tell someone that you don't (fill-in-the-blank) anymore or that you're struggling?
How do you tell people to not view you like a hurt puppy dog because you've given up (fill-in-the-blank)?
How can we recover out loud without the stigma??
As I get more-and-more comfortable with sobriety just being who I am, I've come to a point where I'm done tip-toeing around the subject. I'm done feeling like I have to carry this "secret" in my back pocket. It weighs me down, at-times, and I just want to scream, "YEAH! I DON'T DRINK! WHAT'S IT TO YOU??"
For example, there are those conversations with other moms where the standard reference to drinking wine is made. (Because hey! That's what us moms are supposed to do, right? Drink lots and lots of wine). How am I supposed to respond without letting in the elephant (or the whole damn herd)? "Oh, I actually I don't drink anymore." Cue awkward silence and a quick subject change.
Or what about the people who know I don't drink but don't know how to go about the subject with me? "Sorry, Alison. I know you don't drink. Will it bother you if I do?" Or, "How is it going not drinking? You doing, OK?" Or, simply just the awkward silence and quick glance at me when any reference to alcohol is made.
Then there was/is my fear of the professional side of this lifestyle. Will future employers be hesitant to hire a school counselor recovering from alcohol abuse? Will they treat me differently like I'm some fragile employee? Will they even want to hire someone who has openly admitted to bottoming-out?
Heck, there are even times when my own husband does not know how to approach anything regarding alcohol, and he's seen me through every second of this journey!
How then do I (or we) recover out loud without facing judgment, confusion, pity, and isolation??
My answer- we just do. We just live our lives, fighting the good fight against the stigma, and most importantly, NEVER STOP SHOWING people that recovery is possible.
Who I am now is 1000x better than my best day drunk! Yeah, some may say they miss "Fun, Wild Alison," but do they miss all that came with that? Do they know how badly I was dying inside each time I let myself reach those crazy points of boozy nights? I'm still fun, and I'm still working on my courage to be just as wild. However, I'm also more me than ever!
As an employee, I've always worked hard and learned quickly. I've always asked questions and grown with experience. However, now I would be an even better version because I'm all here. I'm not carrying the weight of shame or just going through the motions because of a massive hangover. PLUS, I'm probably more empathic than EVER! Who am I ever to judge when I've been through the ringer of poor decisions?
By sharing our experiences and dropping our shame, we can be walking examples of growth, empowerment, grace, love, and encouragement. By our actions of living life without the crutch of (fill-in-the-blank), we open up so many more doors that could ultimately lead others to growth, empowerment, grace, love, and encouragement.
Cue the ripple effect...
In living my recovery out loud, I've connected with more souls than I could have ever if I was a) still drinking b) keeping it to myself. People also have a new level of comfort with me, which is shown in how they let their own guard down when they share bits of their stories or ask personal questions.
Honestly, the way I see it, we're all recovering from something. Heartache, eating disorders, low self-esteem, divorce, abuse, molestation, gender identity, our up-bringing, addiction, shame, perfectionism, etc.... you name it! Not one of us is free from fault. Not one of us is free from our own demons. Not one of us is free from life's struggles.
So what would happen if you said it out loud? What connections might be formed? What authenticity could be sprouted? How might your views of others change when you allow yourself to be vulnerable and they actually reciprocate?
Folks, recovery is a BEAUTIFUL gift! And I see as the days pass that by sharing my recovery, LOUD AND PROUD, I'm doing a small part in breaking the stigma that surrounds the word.
It's my hope and prayer that even one person reading this might gain the courage to find his or her voice, step into the water, and keep the ripple effect going. Because simply put, WE CAN AND DO RECOVER! And we can do it together!