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.



  1. I am trying to quit also (day 3) and have a spouse that is not supportive and has an addictive personality that drinks on a daily basis. It is hard doing it alone, knowing that your spouse will never consider quitting.


  2. So I have read all your blogs to this point (love ur writing btw you should write a book) and I was on day 5 until today and then I was like maybe I dont have a problem. I live how you describe to warm tingly feelin. And how I dont need it but it creeps up on me. One morning i wake up distgusted with myself how could I drink a whole bottle of wine? But then i justify it … I only drink one – two times a week max. I have never missed work or a kids event (although I have suffered through a few slightly hung over) so when is it a problem? When do u stop? I’ve had good drinkin nights and definitely bad ones I also have 3 boys and a little girl I am responsible airing and take my role as mother seriously but my biggest fear is getting sloppy and embarrassing them. So my question is when do u realize u have a problem? My drinking often bothers me cause i dont remember specific things but my husband says I dont have a problem so maybe I dont? Or maybe he doesn want to deal with it? I dont know feelin a little lost.


    • Aw sweetie, this is hard. It is suggest to drink no more than 3 drinks on any one day and no more than a total of 7 drinks per week. A bottle of wine is 5 drinks. So if you are drinking a bottle all by yourself, that is problematic because it exceeds the daily use limit. If it happens twice a week, you exceed the daily limit 2x and the total weekly limit as well. So even though it might not seem all that bad, it is unsafe and well beyond recommended limits. Yes, it is a problem.And here is the thing. When the brain changes start to take place (rewiring the pleasure/reward circuitry), the problem typically escalates and almost never declines or decreases on its own. In other words, if it is a problem it will likely get worse until you decide it is time to quit. Of course, this is all information I have learned from others over the years – I am not an expert but I am happy to share what I have learned from them. So in light of this information, how do you feel you fit? You can visit http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/IsYourDrinkingPatternRisky/WhatsYourPattern.asp to assess your drinking patterns and determine what you need to do next. Please stay in touch!


  3. Still day one…still reading and now more than ever want to stop drinking wine. What is it with wine and women? I can stop drinking any other drink…but Chardonnay or Pinot Noir….not.


  4. Just finished Caroline knapp’s book. Shewwwww what an amazing read…. Thank you for the suggestion.:) day five and counting……


  5. Hi UnPickled,

    I haven’t read all your posts yet but I am almost there. I only started reading them yesterday so it’s not bad going! Yesterday was my day 1 and needing to make a change in my patterns I was surfing the net and came across this excellent blog.

    You have inspired me to start writing my own blog and I already think that recording my thoughts and feelings will really help. I also think that to start interacting with the online ex addict community is a good idea for me. Any tips on where to start? 🙂

    Thanks again and keep up the great work


  6. Hi Fullofsuds~
    I’m with you again! Day one. I did 4 days two weeks ago and 3 last week. That’s a record for me in the past 2 years! Everytime I think I can just have a few glasses, the other me takes over and finishes the rest. I need to just stop thinking I can stop when I start bc I can’t. I’ll be cheering you on! and knowing I’m not alone.


    • I feel you DD. I was talking to my husband this morning about everything (I had not disclosed that I was stopping to him) and he still does not understand that I can’t just stop drinking in the house and that be that. He is like “well if you just dont stop and buy it…..”. The thing is, I am on day three and I am already thinking how great it would be to stop on my way home and pick up a 12 pack. He doesnt understand that I have this little voice in my head that LOVES to drink and wants me to cave. I also have my birthday gettogether this weekend and mentioned to him that I was going to try to not drink. He looked at me with this look of disbelieve that I am not strong enough. He doesnt understand addictive behavior at all. It is so hard to talk to him about my issue. Yesterday I made an appointment with a psychologist. It will be nice to talk to someone with an unbiased opinion that will not be like “I can drive past the store without picking up beer, why can’t you” attitude.


      • Hi full of suds! Good luck with the birthday celebration. I think every one of those moments will be a big test for me. It feels so good to not feel awful in the mornings. I hope all those good feelings will remind me why not to drink. As much as I would like to “just have few” I know deep down its not going to happen. Take care!!


  7. Unpickled,
    Just today I was wondering if I should share my blog with friends and family. I’ve recently tried to change my bad drinking habits that have escalated over the last (bad) year. I’m making wonderful progress and I know that writing in my blog, as well as reading others, is very therapeutic and is helping me stay the course. The problem is I’m not sure if I should let people I know in. I love sharing with strangers but I’m wondering if sharing with friends and family is simply too many cooks in the kitchen.

    Anyway, I’m happy to have stumbled here. Your writing is an inspiration and you have a great following! I will continue to check in 🙂


  8. I am feeling really sheepish today and like crawling back into a dark hole. I went four days and even to the sauna to try to melt out the toxins Saturday. I felt happy inside for a brief while and free. v. liberated. I even danced around Walmart as I did my Saturday errands. But… alas, that evening some girlfriends invited me for a night out for sushi. I thought it would only be sushi and I can have just a beer, be good and go home. NO. I suck. I think it was a mixture of feeling lonely and proud I went 4 days and the influence of my friends that we ended up drinking a couple large saki’s each, then tried a new wine bar and I don’t even recall how much I drank, until waking up yesterday and feeling like mimosas to kill the hangover. This sucks. I was doing good. I feel an enormous amount of guilt that I normally didn’t feel after a night out. Mainly bc I wanted to believe I had this beat last week. I’m getting up again. dusting the dirt of my shoulders and trying again. I can’t keep beating myself up in my head, but it’s hard. I just realized the hard way, that I probably can’t even hang out with people for one drink until I’ve gone a long time without anything. It’s just too easy to slip back into my old habits. And the funny thing is, when I told my friends, (who all drank probably more than I did) they thought I was the crazy one for wanting to quit. None of them wanted to join me in an effort to change. Bummer…I’m not super close to them so it’s okay to not hang out for a while. Just mad at myself. I’m trying again this week….


    • Don’t worry DD. happens to the best of us! I have tried quitting about 6 times now. Went for 3 months once. Felt fantastic but I caved in at a family event (note to self – avoid stressful family events when it seems that to actually survive you MUST drink!). Have tried several times since but just seem to get caught up in fun stuff that involves drinking. Am planning on trying again really soon but want to get my timing right. For example I don’t think it wise to start today as my birthday is next Friday and I know my hubby and kids want to take me out for dinner. I think it is important to choose the right time so that we don’t set ourselves up for failure. I really do, however, want to have a clear head once again, and to sleep all the night through and to be able to make really switched on decisions at work and be able to pick my kids up after parties without feeling really ripped off because I have had to stay sober for a night. I am starting a masters course at uni this year so I am thinking that this may be my motivation as it is costing me a fortune and I really will need a clear head if I am to pass.

      Don’t give up DD. there will be a right time for you and hopefully me too.


  9. I’m on day four and haven’t really told anyone. I’m Feeling great and very clear headed. Going on vacation in a few days with my bf and let’s just say it will be a challenge. I’m having issues since at the moment I’m looking forward to a cold pint or nice glass if wine with dinner. I have tried moderation before but some how fall an my ass each time. Thanks for responding. I come back each day to read everyone’s different stories. All the different ages and backgrounds are helpful for sure. Take care everyone!


    • I am also on day four. Love wine, can’ t seem to enjoy just one glass, have to drink the whole bottle. I have errossive esophagitis. tried quitting many times over the years, but something (my addiction) pulls me back. Feeling stronger this time. Best of luck!


  10. Like you, I tried very hard to be anonymous and secret about my struggle with alcohol for a long time. But I have now been sober for 8+ years, and I am in a totally different place. To be honest, I don’t much care if people know who I am… that not-caring has given me a freedom and openness that I just love.

    On my blog, I link to my Facebook and Twitter accounts; both use my real name, and Twitter has my photo. I work for myself, and I am a writer, and although I have clients, I have worked with them for many many years and have proven my value and integrity. I want to publish books and short story collections, and I will delve in to my 15 years of active drinking and use that pain and anger and darkness. I am OK with being vulnerable and revealing the things I did. I am finally in a place of complete honesty: with myself, my family, the internet, the world.

    It came with time, and it came slowly. But it’s here now, and I am not ashamed or worried or scared about being a non-practicing alcoholic. I’m proud I made it through, and I am eager to support others just stepping on to the field of battle. Because it IS a fight, and nobody can do it alone.

    So, stay anonymous if you wish; come out about who you are if you want to. Join AA, or meet a friend who ‘gets it’ for coffee. Post on an anonymous blog, or use your real name all over the damn internet. Whatever works for you – whatever you can stand behind with pride. This is YOUR journey…


    • I don’t understand how someone can open a bottle of wine and NOT finish it themselves. It’s only 3 glasses the way I pour them.
      Just when I thought it was getting easier- I finally made it home and started rooting around in the fridge to make dinner and was struck by this numb sad realization. How do I cook those yummy scallops in the freezer without white wine? And I just bought that cheese and fancy expensive balsamic to go with my after work happy hours last week! Ahhh – how do I enjoy food like I used to? Let alone sushi? I don’t know the answer- yet– but I do know the 2 day dry heaving bloody mucous kidney aching head pounding hangover New Years wasn’t fun and inspired this endeavor. (for the 741.355th time) That snd the fact that the two halves in me are tired at being at war with each other. I actually had a nightmare recently where my twin was convincing my inebriated self to take a nap in a bubble bath. a long nap.
      Most people’s daily after work happy hours prolly don’t include 5-6 big glasses of wine. 8-10 on weekends-and if really crazy- like Christmas morning alone-fun bottomless breakfast mimosa’s … Hmm. Was that fun? Yes! Im sorry. Ive many fond memories dancing with crazy hair snd laughter and 2-3 breakfast bottles of champange…But I didn’t accomplish much. I guess those were pretty wasted days- in more ways than one- Hmm what to do now.. My house feels funny and quiet.. I notice I’ve been collecting too much junk..I’m reminded of that song “where is my mind” by the pixies from high school. But- where was my mind these past few years? How many years have i been this bad? 3-4–5?? I don’t remember-but I think it got worse this last year. a lot of changes. I’m feeling a bit like a stranger in my own house. I feel like I’ve just divorced myself and need to redecorate. But it’s too early– patience grasshopper. At least the temptation is momentary-


      • I feel ya! I’m so scared that people won’t see me as a fun person. And I’m also scared I won’t see myself as a fun person. As much as I know it’s better for me to not drink, it’s a scary thing to say goodbye forever…… It does help to have a good laugh though. 🙂


        • I know. me too. People have even told me that that’s the fun side of me.. the side that lets loose. I have a hard time doing that in general. but,.. i hate how unstable alcohol makes me ..the day after I emotionally feel really low. LIke today.. I feel like shutting the door to my office and crying.


          • I’m jumping in to send you some love. Tell the shame to eff off and instead reflect on what you learned about triggers. For most of us, certain social situations are the triggers. Meet those friends for shopping and coffee. If you’re going to indulge regretfully with them make that indulgence gossip and cheesecake in the afternoon. Assess other friendships you let slide because they weren’t part of your drinking self.

            Four days is a MAJOR accomplishment. Now you know you have that in you. Back on your feet, sister. You have a new lesson in your toolkit. Use it to make you stronger. Lets go.


  11. today is day 1 for me….your stories are exactly like mine. is it possible to do this secretly? im so tired of living with guilt and feeling ashamed, im also so happy im not the only one, i cant do this by myself.


    • Yes.. but realize.. the very few people I’ve told don’t understand this at all. They may not have the same level of problem as me but they are still in the Pitcher Plant (Easyway book reference) And… they don’t want to understand it bc they still love the sticky substance in some way. I am okay with that. I loved it too much.
      I am now on day 3. I haven’t gone 3 days for over 6 months! woohoo. Downloaded irecovery iphone app. It’s kinda funny bc it’s for all addictions and somehow I find I don’t feel so bad bc I’m only using part of the app. I think it’s like watching the “Hangover” marathon New Year’s day… I may be bad for drinking as much as I did new years eve….. but I’m not that bad… LOL!! I even went to a blood drive today and look at like an oil change. This is going to be the year I change. I’ve longed for it and am going to. For a reward tomorrow, I’m going to the V. Secret half year sale after i join the gym. I may not do much at the gym but sit in the steamroom but It’s a start. I need to start looking at my life differently. I am more fun sober. I truly am. and I don’t write depressing blogs after 2 bottles of wine..i really havent’ felt much like writing anything……


      • D, i dont think any of my friends would even understand it. Ironically, they are exactly like me,some worse, some not so bad. I still love it!! but i always felt so ashamed and guilty the next day. I’m not even a daily drinker, but i dont know how to have one glass of wine, i need to drink the whole bottle! Why? And why do i see it as a problem in my life, but they dont in theirs? My husband doesnt really drink so its not like i have a buddy in this, where as my girlfriends husbands do or they’re single so its not an issue. My husband just doesnt understand why i like to drink.


    • Today is my first day. I am ready to face my life in the light and be truthful about all things, especially my relationship with alcohol. I tried and not be successful before, going a couple of weeks without a drink. Here is the screwed up part. I can hardly focus on getting through today, and am more worried about how I will manage a vacation a couple of months down the road. I admire all of the information shared. Thank you.


  12. My story is not like yours at all. I binge drink from time to time, but it always ends in disaster and regret. I am just sick of feeling great temporarily and then the doom of regret that follows the false happiness. I love your blog and am very happy to have found it. I wish you all the best. You are great inspiration.


    • Thanks. We all keep each other strong and your story helps me, too. It’s good to know we are all in it together. I am so much happier as I continue down this road. I feel everything more fully – yes, sometimes that means more pain but it usually means more JOY!


  13. ouch. After reading this I am also like Kate and you and many others. Great career.. used alchol to unwind all the time and then realized that I was drinking in the morning to unwind and then the other day I added up in my head I drank 4 bottles of champagne and a bottle of wine to unwind. What?! that’s crazy. I’m tired of feeling sick and hiding the two sides of my personality. I want to be healthy.. but I’m scared.. I’m scared I won’t relax, have fun, or enjoy foods w/ yummy wines anymore. I’m pretty much a loner anyhow but to take away my only friend… booze… terrifies me. I’m determined to try a little harder than just saying the words…but. this down right sucks and the first day isn’t even halfway over. I feel like I have nothing to go home to.


    • Hey, are you doing okay? I went through flat out grief – it was like a bad break up – when I left wine behind. I started to realize that the reason I “liked” spending time alone so much was because it facilitated drinking and I’m finding I’m more socially engaged now because I can actually drive my f*#cking car in the evenings. I have more time for LIFE and also I have more mobility as an always sober driver. If you are capable of your career, you are capable of doing this. It ain’t rocket science but it does take perseverance and focus.


      • YaY, for 2nd day,. … I downloaded the Easyway book by Allen Carr.. I love it. I’m learning to unbrainwash myself. I wanna run again, finally get rid of these 10lbs or so I’ve hated and make this my come back year- special non-alcohol drinks when I get home make it something to look forward to. I choose the Dry soda water line. I’m allowed one as a reward every day I get home from work. I can’t wait till I don’t even count the days anymore-


        • Yes!! I love this – so excited for you. Keep us posted. I’ve heard it’s a great book – I’m going to download it right now also. *clink* I’m raising my fresca&odooles glass to you!

          Sent from my iPhone


  14. Dear unpickled, I completely understand the need to remain anonymous. I have a high profile career and would just die if anyone knew the true me. I am very jealous that you have found someone to confide in. Hopefully I will find one one day too. Happy 2013


  15. Just found your blog. Guess I found it right when I needed it. Your initial story could be mine. I plan to join you on your journey. I hope for the positive results you have found. I am so proud of you. Thanks for sharing!


  16. ooh this is so great. I wish to meet one sober friend who I could gel with, but alas, not yet. it was such a huge delight to get your post in my mailbox. thank you. and happy 2013!


  17. The remarkable journey of my life has taken me down the path that passes your blog ‘cottage’. I am grateful that you are here to share and participate in my recovery, as I learn to live sober and break the spell that addictions held over me for that last 46 years of my life. UGH! and YAY! For the response is both simultaneously. One of past self-revulsion’s and one of current delightful hopes! Avenues to recovery are everywhere and choosing the ones that are appropriate for me is certainly more rewarding than I ever imagined possible. I used to imagine rather dreadful things so easily and to be in a place where I am at last hopeful, helpful, and happier is a revelation in delight, indeed. Thank you again for posting your blog, I look forward to reading your posts. 439 Sober and Serene (well, more serene at least.)


  18. YEE-HAW!!!

    First for a post, yes!
    And second for the connection….I am happy for you! I get the AA thing, always have, but hanging anonymously with readers here always seemed lonely. SO happy for you and your new pal….enjoy the fellowship!


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