The Amazing Value in Recovering Out Loud

“Those of us who have lost loved ones and those of us in in recovery from substance use disorders must speak up and tell our stories!” ~ Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, in recovery from a substance use disorder for more than 26 years.

Rally2015

The social stigma associated with addiction/alcoholism is regrettably still rather paramount as many people continue to believe that addiction is a character flaw or a weakness in a person. This belief often hinders those seeking recovery from ever attempting to get help. The same stigma is also present for those of us who have recovered, but often continue to feel the need to remain silent so that we are similarly not stereotyped! Therefore, many in recovery are still virtually invisible.

However, there over 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery in the United States alone! (Source: manyfaces1voice.org)

That is an amazing number especially since most of us trying to get sober most likely do not know a single person in recovery – I sure did not!

The Anonymous People documentary is what started it all for me. If you have not seen it, I strongly recommend that you do. THE ANONYMOUS PEOPLE is a feature documentary film about the over 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Their slogan is:

Recovery is OUT – to change the addiction conversation from problems to SOLUTIONS.

Recovery is not shameful! It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It is a BIG F-ing Deal!

I was not always open about my recovery. Actually for a long time I did not tell a soul, because the fear of being judged was too overwhelming. In those early days  of recovery, I did not feel like getting sober was an amazing decision, instead I felt lots of shame and embarrassment because I did not want to be an alcoholic, and I did not want to be looked down on.

But I sure wish that I had felt differently. I wish that maybe instead of holding on to my shame I could have been looking at this as any other disease and thinking, I am sick, I need help. I wish someone had told me that the journey to sobriety was courageous and empowering! I wish I knew that there were people out there who cared, and would support me, and cheer me on, every step of the way, no matter where I came from and who I was!

We are at a turning point in the battle against addiction, yet the stigma is still huge. Even the death of Robin Williams did not stop people from judging him as as junkie.

So it is still scary…

…and I cannot change who I am.

And every time I open-up about my alcoholism and recovery, I get super overwhelmed. I know that those who have traveled this journey understand it well. But those of you that have not, it might make no sense whatsoever, and as my eyes meet yours I often see the fear and judgement, or even a disbelief. It makes you feel uncomfortable. It make me feel uncomfortable.

I was once told that I must really crave attention to spread my personal business around like this. But actually, “like this” is the hardest thing I have ever done, next to getting sober. “Like this” has given me a purpose to not only combat my own stigma but also help break yours. “Like this” allows me to meet and help many people still struggling. “Like this” empowers me to advocate for recovery and those still suffering. Nevertheless, “Like this” is still the scariest thing that I try to do every single day.

So I am going to DC to join the United To Face Addiction rally, because I believe that it is vital to deliver the message that RECOVERY is possible for all of us!

Addiction does not discriminate, but it does kill. Many people in recovery do not openly talk about it because of the huge social stigma that is associated with alcoholism and/or drug addiction. However, I believe that if I, as a person in long term-recovery, do not speak out about my addiction and recovery, I am also then cultivating the stigma. In turn, that stigma then further hinders those still struggling with addiction from seeking help!

It is time to end the silence – we can, and do recover!

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with alcohol addiction, please click the Find Support link for an extensive list of support groups. Also please check out the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at sobercourage@gmail.com.

You may also find some great inspiration and support from all the awesome sober bloggers listed in the side bar under POSTS I LIKE and RECOVERY BLOGGERS, as well as Sober Courage page on Facebook and Sober Courage on Twitter.

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. mishedup says:

    good for you…i’ll be standing beside you

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Mishedup! Sending hugs!

      Like

  2. 19cathleen says:

    Shame and embarrassment…yup, that’s me. I’ve been to several AA meetings over the last couple of weeks. When the discussion is open, I find I have that “strangled” feeling in my throat so I dare not speak. My voice cracks inside and I continue to sit with my shame and embarrassment. So, yes, I totally think what you’re doing in terms of being open about your recovery is hard. Painful, even. But keep on doing it. You’re inspiring me to give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, that’s what it feels like sometimes. But it’s gotten easier. I haven’t gotten many negative reactions. Mostly good and encouraging. There is no shame! We all have gone through the ringer. And the important part to remember is that we are getting better. We are not bad people. We have a bad disease.

      Thank you so much for the encouragement! Keep hitting those meetings and sharing. What you say just might help another person!

      Sending hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My voice catches in my throat just reading this post and watching these trailers. Incredible and awesome. I love that you will be there and that you are speaking out. Thank you – for being there and for your voice. p.s. The documentary is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I get teary eyed too and the movie is just amazing. The producer, Greg Williams is absolute powerhouse. His determination is contagious. It was an amazing experience to be there and witness so many people working so hard to break the stigma!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lisa Neumann says:

    My greatest fear was to blog, coach, write the book, come out of my closet (which, by the way warehoused my wine). Recovery is amazing. Love you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Love you Lisa! I was scared of everything too! No one was ever, ever going to find out that I was an alcoholic – sometimes I wonder what the hell happened, lol, because now I tell everyone I can. It has changed my entire recovery, my self-esteem, and outlook on life! And I have met some amazing people too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sherry says:

    “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
    ― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

    Share your story in DC. I’ll be with you in spirit.

    Sherry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sherry!!! Awesome quote! It was great, truly overwhelming and inspiring – an estimated 30k people showed up! Whoop whoop!

      Like

  6. Bren Murphy says:

    “I was once told that I must really crave attention to spread my personal business around like this” Awesome sentence – you capture the idea of the shameful reveal versus the idea of moving forward with dignity in silence.
    It may be inappropriate or trite to do this, but comparing survivors of sexual abuse, indigenous people, LGBT people, sober recovery people – as all caught in a twilight world where our past history, whether we are responsible for it or not, colors how people treat us for the rest of our lives.
    It’s as if we can’t ever be detached from that history, or be proud, or move out of the shamelight. Like we have to shut up and grimly go on. It’s victim blaming and victim shaming.
    Surviving “something” is part of life – and being resilient and not living with our eyes downcast, that is our choice.
    We need to fight and be heard and stand tall. Go to DC and be seen!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, how true is that – Great comment! I met Jake D. Parent (@JakeDParent) at the rally, an amazing author of several books including his new one called Hearts and Scars: 10 Human Stories of Addiction. His main goal right now is to “humanize” the struggle of addiction. And I love that idea – we are all human no matter what we have gone through or done. And it’s time that people see us that way too! Very powerful!

      Like

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