Throughout my journey to sober living, I have found myself in the “catch twenty-two” of wishing desperately for two opposing things: fellowship and anonymity.
Uh, duh. Hello. Alcoholics Anonymous, anyone?
To which I respond, “Thank you, Captain Obvious. However, I do not wish to join AA.”
AA is a great program and has helped many, many people. I speak with utmost respect for the program when I tell you that I chose another path: mucking through it alone, leaning heavily on materials from SMART Recovery (smartrecovery.org) and connecting with others anonymously through this blog and Twitter (@unpickledblog).
Before posting each blog entry, I’ve scanned my writing carefully to ensure nothing could give away my identity. The thought of business competitors reading this and knowing I am the author gives me a sick feeling.
You know it – that “accidently hit reply-all on the email” feeling. That nightmare about riding public transit in your nudie pants. Forgetting to delete the search history after trying to self-diagnose genital warts. Pocket-dialing your mother-in-law from a coffee chat with your best friend.
You know it. Of course you do. (Which reminds me, don’t forget to delete your browsing history when you’re done here if you don’t want anyone to know you read sobriety blogs.)
How do you find friends in recovery if you’re not willing to show your face at a meeting? My fears won out – I stayed in hiding and imagined conversations instead of having them.
Funny how our prayers and wishes are sometimes answered in the most unexpected of ways…
I often receive emails from readers and enjoy this correspondence from which I take encouragement and offer support. This give-and-take is the heart of recovery and emails make up for the fellowship lacking in my journey. A few months ago, however, what started as a pretty normal letter from a reader in recovery suddenly took an unexpected turn:
“Dear UnPickled…I know who you are…”
Splat. My stomach hit the floor and bounced back up to my throat. Oh, God. My worst fear.
Everything went fuzzy for a moment before I continued reading.
“….I figured it out…We know each other….I will never tell anyone about you or your blog. Promise.”
Who, who?! I read on. An acquaintance from my community. What are the chances? This blog is read globally – hundred of hits daily from all over the world. I am a needle in a haystack, considering the enormity of the internet.
She is a mother, like me. We are close in age; our social circles just barely overlap. Someone I’ve always liked but never had the opportunity to know better. Obviously a sharp cookie to have pieced together my identity. Someone, I’ll admit, I judged as a little on the wild side but amiable, outgoing, and fun.
“…If you ever need a friend for a walk or coffee who is full of compassion and support for your journey you can call on me…”
In an instant, I went from feeling sick to completely elated. How wonderful! Fantastic! I don’t just have a confidant, not just any connection, but the PERFECT person – I would never have known it on my own and yet now I see what an absolute treasure I’ve been given. It seems a double miracle – that she found me at all, and that we are such a good match as ‘sober sisters’.
The irony is that in order to receive this tremendous gift, I had to experience my worst fear: “I know who you are.”
With the new year just days away, many readers may find this blog for the first time as they contemplate a sobriety journey of their own. (If that’s you, hurray! You have stumbled on to a community that is full of support and encouragement. You will find many others who have gone before you and can light the way. You’re not alone. This can be done. You can do this.)
You see, there it is – fellowship. Get you some of that.