The Trouble With Shame

My husband and I were high school sweethearts.

I know. Barf.

A funny story from our early dating years comes back to me now as one worth sharing. At the time, it was just an embarrassing incident but now I see it as having greater significance as a true “life lesson”.

At the time, we both lived with our parents in cities some 5 hours apart. I would often drive up for a weekend and sleep on the lumpy hide-a-bed in his parents’ basement. It takes some getting used to life in other households, especially when you want desperately to fit in and win everyone’s approval so they will endorse your candidacy for future spouse.

Now you must understand that my (then future) husband’s family were and are warm and gracious hosts who welcomed me in every way. His mother is an amazing cook who serves beautiful dinners every night and always had home made desert afterward. There was just one teeny problem: their stoic devotion to not eating after supper. Like, ever.

It is pretty common for teenage girls to be self-conscious about eating in front of a boyfriend and it’s likely I was shy about taking that second or third helping I would have  certainly eaten back at home. And moreover my family is famous for the enjoyment of a bedtime snack – a bowl of cereal or a slice of pie left from dinner is as much a part of preparing for bed as brushing the teeth and saying good night.

So not only was I eating less than I’d have liked at supper, but also I was dearly missing that bedtime snack and sorely in need of it. It was more than just shyness that kept me from saying I was hungry, though. It was shame.

Shame that I lacked their discipline. Shame that I was weak. Shame that I had failed to be honest at supper and eat what I needed. I was hungry and I was ashamed.

One restless night, I laid on that sofa bed in the basement and waited for the house to fall quiet (all but for the gurgling of my stomach). When I was sure everyone was asleep, I tiptoed up to that kitchen as quiet as a mouse and stood in the dark kitchen in my white flannel nightgown. I couldn’t open the fridge – they might hear it or notice the flash of light. But I remembered that the bread was always tucked out of sight behind a recipe stand and I reached behind it. Slowly, quietly, I took a piece of bread from a bag and stood nibbling it in the dark.

It was rye bread, a little dry and in need of some butter but I ate it anyway and felt better. I crept back down to the basement and was finally able to sleep.

The next morning, I came upstairs and joined the family in the kitchen where Sunday brunch preparations were already underway. Juice, fruit, bacon, eggs, pancakes with whipped cream – these people know how to eat a good breakfast! I quickly volunteered to make the toast, worried that if anyone else reached for the bread they might notice that the bag had been moved or a slice was missing (As if! Who on earth knows how many slices of bread are left in the loaf? But a guilty conscious make such things seem possible).

I moved the recipe stand to get the bread and gasped. There were two loaves of bread there. One fresh white load of bread…and one not-so-fresh, very green and moldy loaf of rye bread.

“Eeeek!” I shrieked. “It’s moldy!”

My stomach started flopping and tears began welling in my eyes. I realized to my horror that I stood in that kitchen hours before and eaten a slice of that rotten, disgusting bread.

Of course, my future mother-in-law had no way of knowing this – all she saw was a silly girl over-reacting to seeing a little mold. “Well, throw it out and toast the fresh bread,” she said in her practical, no-nonsense way.

I started to laugh. I ‘fessed up through tears and giggles: “I ate that. I snuck upstairs and ate a piece of bread in the dark and it was the moldy loaf.”

29 years later, I can still feel the anguish and relief of that moment. I had to get real with these people, and thank God I did. Because as much as they value discipline and self-control, they value honesty and a good laugh even more.

The moral of the story here is that shame causes us to hide and in doing so, we fool even ourselves into thinking we have found satisfaction in things that would utterly disgust us by the light of day.

We filled the glass before it was empty so we could say it was still “just one”.  We bought wine by the box so even we couldn’t see how much was gone each night. We pulled the damn bag out of that box and squeezed each last drop into the glass, hoping no one would see our desperation. Shame made us hide. Shame made us lie. Shame burdened us and caused us to keep drinking because the truth was just too embarrassing to face.

And now, those of us lucky enough to be standing in the light of truth – having pushed past shame as some life-preserving instinct told us we must “STOP!” – we can see those moments with all the disgust and amazement as my young self holding that bag of rotten bread.

The truth is hard to accept, but it’s a darn sight better than fumbling shamefully through the darkness.


About UnPickled

I am learning to walk without the crutch of alcohol. As I begin I am 1 day sober. Gulp. I drank in private and hope to quit just as privately. The purpose of this blog is to help make me accountable - just by following you will give me enormous support and encouragement.

Posted on April 3, 2013, in Getting Sober, Marriage and Alcohol Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 66 Comments.

  1. Absolutely! All the lies I have told. Ugh, it’s shameful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just love your blog. You’ll recognize my email, but I am commenting not under my own name and public blog URL but via my anonymous blog, the only place I’ve written publicly about my sobriety except the secret Facebook group. Someday I will go public, perhaps, but not yet.

    So many of your posts, which I am reading from the beginning, have struck a nerve with me, and I wanted to comment on several of them. This one — wow. I have dealt with such extreme shame issues all my life, such perfectionism and crippling fear of what others will think of me. I know it’s absurd, crazy even, since people care more about themselves than whatever it is I may be doing or not doing, and I am only the center of my own world, and not anyone else’s. I know that, and know I SHOULDN’T care what people think as much as I do, and yet somehow I can’t seem to stop it. I’ve read Brené Brown’s amazing work on shame, and thought through it, and yet I somehow can’t seem to get past this particular demon.

    You’ve inspired me to start writing on my anonymous blog again, where I can write freely. I’ve felt too constrained to share much on my public blog, and my recent posts are few and far between.


  3. I am grateful on day 1 of going down this path you still have the passion to write about your recovery. This blog is a lifeline for me right now…thank you.


  4. Thank you so much for this 🙂 brought a true laugh and smile, nice writing also. Very inspiring :):):)


  5. Hi Freer, stay strong…The truth will keep you going. I found that when I was drinking I lied. I lied to myself and everybody around me. I was not not very truthful. My last drink was March 2nd. 2013. I fell upon this web site one morning when I was soooo very sick. I literally did not get out of bed the entire day. I devoured this web site like it was my medicine. I am pretty sure in my first posting I described this web site as “if I had found the cure for cancer”. The effects of alcohol on our organ function as well as diisease processes is quite profound. Funny…I checked into this web site last evening because I had such a big vision of gulping down some wine. It was very odd, not like a craving..but literally and image of what I was going to do. It was odd because I have been doing so well. I did not do it because I do not want to return to where I used to exist. While I was drinking I secretly knew what it was doing to my health. I would block those thoughts out with each gulp, gulp, gulp, than as alcohol worked it’s magic I was in ignorant bliss… or one big fat lie. Until I woke up the next day, than, the next and the next. But, each morning when I woke up I felt the ever growing effects of what alcohol was doing to me. Keep up the good honest work.. Thank-you for your posting!


  6. Coming Clean

    I meant 5 months sober, not 5 moths sober!!


  7. Coming Clean

    Hi Freer me. Interesting I too have had breast cancer 3 yrs ago and I know it was due to my heavy alcohol consumption. The studies all relate the two. I am now 5 moths sober. Loving my life, my self control, my clear thinking. I have been to one wedding which I felt ok drinking soft drinks all night and watched as the mother of the bride got louder and louder as her champagne glass was refilled more and more. There are sadnesses which surface and they are times I look back knowing I wasn’t on the same page as my loved ones and they missed the ordinariness of having a sober mum. Ordinary is me now, and i love it. I love feeling mad, sad, lonely, hungry restless. When I was a drinker I felt nothing other than a sense of anticipation for the next hit. I would mask the ordinary to feel free from myself. Now I love who I am and I need no masks.
    Hey Unpickled are you ok? We are all your biggest fans.


  8. Here I am on day 2. I woke up still sleepy, but not hung over. One day my stomach will forgive me. There I was after a year of sobriety and came across a hidden bottle of wine. Just a little perhaps? Perhaps not, next time. A year? And this had taken control of my whole life again.l am retired, no children, plenty of friends off at their jobs. But day 2 is back and I can hardly believe it again. Just a couple of days ago I called my fiancee in to my room to talk, he sat quietly and held me as I cried. I told him that I was afraid, that I’m sick and I couldn’t quit drinking. I really felt that small and helpless. He told me that he knows, and he knows I’m not a bad person ( I had been keeping up a lie about not drinking). He said, “I know you are bigger than this.” I said, I think I need help. It was as simple as that. I Googled and found out that drinking over time weakens your muscles, including your heart muscles. I found out things about alcohol that I didn’t know, it increases your risk of developing breast cancer, I’ve already had breast cancer, I didn’t enjoy it in the least. It also increases your risk of liver cancer. Well, that’s enough education for me on the topic, now I just need some positive affirmations of my once again chosen path to total abstinence from this hideous drug.

    Thank you for this blog, sorry my post is so dark, the truth isn’t always pretty, but it got my attention and snatched me right out of that nasty habit. This time for good. I’m 53 years old, if I’m going to make it to old age I need to immediately put the brakes on. Which I did. Thanks for a safe supportive group.


  9. I am where you were. I know I’m not alone, but I didn’t think anyone felt (or could understand) quite the way I do. Thanks for sharing your story, you make me smile and I’ll use that to beat this thing. Here is to day one, and yes…it should be interesting.


  10. I just found your website and think it is absolutely amazing. Your writing is fantastic. Have you considered writing a book? I read a lot of blogs and books and your blog is really a step above. I’d buy your book in a heartbeat.


  11. Thanks to all again, Coming Clean loved the sonnet. The truth be known….I do not do will in crowds or most gatherings. I only do ok on one on one conversations etc. That is a key reason why I fell flat on my face at AA. I feel nervous, and extremely inadequate engaging in small talk. I actually flourish when I am among my peers. I drank when I was in a group. or crowds because I felt so nervous and frightened. My realization on that prom weekend was that I could not engage with others, I had no alcohol in me and it was very frightening. But…now I realize…that is just me. I do not have to engage in small talk. I can excuse myself after graciously thanking everybody. It is ok to go home and not engage in the group chit chat and drinking. Stop beating myself up for not measuring up. No more of feeling SHAME! Except me! and like me! A lot of work I have been working on. Toughest mission ever in my life!


  12. Thank you. I’ve just read your blog from start to finish, and your story resonated so strongly within my heart. I cried numerous times reading these entries, seeing myself in you. I CAN do this. I can do this without joining AA, or sharing my problem with family, friends, or co-workers. I can do this even though most who know me think I don’t have to. I can do this for… me. I turned 26 this year, and this is the gift I am going to give myself.


    • How has your week been? Are you hanging in there? It can be really tough at first so if you are wavering, don’t give up! Keep in touch and don’t listen to you brain when it whispers all the reasons you should keep drinking. You deserve better! Let me know how you are – it is hard to go it alone for lots of reasons. It’s important to keep yourself accountable. You can email me or comment on this blog and you’ll find tons of strength at your side. xo, UnP


    • This is so exciting, Anonymous! Speaking as a 47 year old who would give anything to have made the decision you’re making at 26, I can’t encourage you enough to continue. There is nothing but good that can come of it. And joy. And peace. I could go on, but I think you get the gist.


  13. Coming Clean

    This is one of my favourite sonnets by Ada Cambridge


    Me let the world disparage and despise —
    As one unfettered with its gilded chains,
    As one untempted by its sordid gains,
    Its pleasant vice, its profitable lies;
    Let Justice, blind and halt and maimed, chastise
    The rebel spirit surging in my veins,
    Let the Law deal me penalties and pains
    And make me hideous in my neighbours’ eyes.
    But let me fall not in mine own esteem,
    By poor deceit or selfish greed debased.
    Let me be clean from secret stain and shame,
    Know myself true, though false as hell I seem —
    Know myself worthy, howsoe’er disgraced —
    Know myself right, though every tongue should blame.

    I often read this sonnet to make it clear that so long as I am true to myself and without secret stain and shame then I care not what others think of me. I am four months sober today and have just spent the weekend with a group who love to drink. It hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be. I keep a lot of fruit nearby so I don’t get hungry. I drink lemonade with lime and ice. It is good. I am at peace with myself. Thanks Unpickled.


  14. The cold lonely reality: Please understand that in no shape do I consider my situation even at the level that the Boston Marathon victims were at. I can not imagine what they are going through. But, with that being said…. Tough evening last night! While going to a neighbors home last night to participate in the right of passage of being an enthusiastic parent taking photos of prom kids…. I encountered a cold slap in the face. The air was filled with excitement of hair, makeup, dresses, shoes, tuxes, photos, nerves and jitters, all were so infectious. I was happy! I was a proud parent, and I was sober! I was there with my husband, and he started to get involved in all of the chatter, photos, sharing which child was ours. And there the wine sat……Tall, plentifull, and for sure not something for me. The kids got off to their dinner, and than would proceed to the prom dance setting. I went outdoors for some air, I knew I no longer fit in. For some odd reason I felt the feeling of impending doom. Than… I grabbed some fruit punch, I told my husband I did not want to stay. He than asked permission to have one glass. I am a sucker, codependant and want everybody to like me. The world might end if anybody there could have possibly heard me telling him “no, I’d rather you not.” He did not just have one, he had 4 large, bountiful glasses, I thought I was going to pass put! The odor was horrible, the laughter was drunk, the talk was mindless. I actually felt like I was having a fight or flight episode. My husband didn’t see it at first…. nor did he care. I gave a look, and it was fast and furious, I tried everything… I thought about jumping out of one of the windows, hiding in a room, but I could not leave, we had driven there together. Finally, I said my goodbyes, told everyone what a beautiful spread and and how I was sooo appreciative of their generosity…all lies. When my husband saw me doing this he thought I was engaging in a conversation and grabbed another quick drink…..It was at this point that I felt like I would almost collapse, I honestly felt short of breath, my heart was racing. Right there and than, I looked at the person I have been married to for 25 years and realized that he is not in the fox-hole with me, he does not have my back, has allowed me to walk out on the battlefield too many times and almost step on IUDs. So very draumatic! I know…But, what a lonely, lonely slap in the face! What happens next? Not sure. Alcohol for me has new meaning, not just lure, fumes, behaviors, quick answers and fixes, but an entangled, complicated realization of a life that might not have been as I thought……….


  15. Shame. Like everything in life, shame is a relative term. Is rolling around in my own vomit and urine on the floor next to my bed cause for shame? Horribly so, yes. Is face-planting in your plate of food at a formal dinner with your business partners and associates shameful? OMG, yes. But these experiences I would gladly have accepted time and time again rather than commit the sexual assault that landed me in prison for seven years. I can think of no better definition of shame than to know that I treated another human being with total disregard for who they are. Thankfully I used those seven years to contemplate thoughts, feelings, and emotions – like shame. I found that when you dig deep enough you can actually uncover the level where shame exists. Like most alcoholics I drank to hide. I didn’t know from what but I eventually figured it out. And because I drank to hide, when I no longer felt the need for hiding the desire to drink vanished. When looked at in sobriety, shame has amazing healing powers. It allows you to pick yourself up and say, “there has got to be a better way.”


  16. MO – Hi! Congratulations on your 5 days! Like you I was easily a 3-5 glasses on weekdays and more on weekends (when I could ‘really let loose’). While thinking that’s normal. Ugh. I’m only on day 20, but am feeling much better day by day. That fogginess is gone. I totally get the waking up part where you say ‘not today’ only to have that bottle later that night. I’m still getting that but it gets a little easier each (week) day. I just try to keep really busy until about 9:30, then I can go to bed shortly after (and all the stores are closed).
    GOOD LUCK! Keep us posted!


  17. “We filled the glass before it was empty so we could say it was still ‘just one’. We bought wine by the box so even we couldn’t see how much was gone each night. We pulled the damn bag out of that box and squeezed each last drop into the glass, hoping no one would see our desperation.”

    This just made me well up with tears because holy hell, that’s me and I feel so ashamed.

    I am so thankful I found this blog because I, like the rest of you, am the same type of girl who is an “has her act together drinker”. I could down 3-5 glasses on week nights and 6-7 on weekends without thinking about it and have been doing so for the past 11 years. I can’t believe I’ve allowed myself to get here and think that it’s OK and that there will be no consequences. My goodness, I am not invincible! The days I would wake up foggy from the night before and promise not to drink that night but then, have a hard day and down a bottle of red wine. I’ve gone five days now without alcohol and am in the process of reading this blog word for word until I’m done to find some hope and inspiration to keep going for my husband and newborn. I also thought after my child was born that I would stop drinking since I had done so for nine months anyway but nope, went right back to drinking like it was breathing. I just hope I can keep this up for my health and for my family’s sake. Thank you for this inspiring blog and making me feel like I am not alone in this journey to be a better “me” without wine…I know I can do it.


    • Hi MO. I just saw your comment. You are the same exact type of drinker as me. And I have a suggestion for you that has changed my whole life. Tell your husband you have a drinking problem. Be honest. It breaks the “shame chains. ” Don’t wait. I did for too long.


  18. Congrats on two years!

    Very complex topic, shame. I spoke to a friend once in early sobriety about shame and she said, ‘Start by not doing things that make you ashamed of yourself.’ That paved the way for not letting others shame me and letting go of past shame.


  19. Hi UP, I’m waiting for another post! In the meantime, I started my own blog! Thanks so much for your inspiration and I’m coming back for more. Peace!


  20. Just found this blog on a google search about quitting drinking. I searched specifically for blogs because personal accounts speak to me more viscerally than giant sites meant to sell you a program or medication. I want to quit drinking … I am a binge drinker and though I go weeks without drinking a drop, when I start I seriously can’t /won’t stop and end up blacking out and embarrassing myself. I know in my heart of hearts I can accomplish what I decide to do but I have serious fears including the following:
    1) My husband and I meet and fell in love in our wild drinking days and though we have cut back significantly since having kids, I’m afraid he will not think I’m “fun” anymore (damn, that sounds so laaaame when I type it all out.)
    2)I’m a local musician in a band and play in bars with and for people who drink, most often heavily
    3) Most of my friends do not have kids so I already feel like I’m lacking socially (read:lonely)and I’m afraid that not drinking will axe me from even more potential times to bond
    4) my extended family members all drink, often to excess when celebrating together or just when visiting and I’m afraid of alienating myself
    5) I’m afraid that since drinking masks my fear of feeling alone and isolated, I will not be able to withstand the resulting loneliness and isolation

    What I do know is that I’m not into wasting days of my life recovering from my inability to stop.

    Thanks for having a rad blog that speaks to so many people. I’ve just followed (first time i ever felt the need to subscribe to any blog. ever.)and will be back.


    • Not drinking around so many with a social life that’s fabric is laced with alcohol, sounds tricky enough. I think others will follow your influence. Either way you suffer hangovers alone, no one can endure that for you. Good luck to you. Its sounds like you know you need to quit but the fear of being kicked out of the group of friends is tipping the scale to stay in a comfort zone that you have outgrown. They’ll understand if you quit.


  21. Thank-you all, I am indebted to all of the knowledge and support. I have made it 50 days. I do feel good. I am now starting to investigate some of the deep questions regarding why I drank. It is still such a blurrrr! regarding how deep I got, and how sick I was. I am slowly admitting things, apologizing, examining, and wanting to move forward. At times it feel like it is overwhelming!


  22. Sorry I made a mistake I meant “punishing headache” not punning headache!


  23. Hi Body Snatchers
    I am responding to you to say thank you for sharing with us all your recollections of an ugly time in your life that you feel ashamed of. We have all been ashamed like you, all vomited, all shook, all with punning headaches. That is why we are here egging each other on to put it behind us. Once you have hit rock bottom the only two outcomes are a horrible life and subsequent horrible death or freedom living a happy and long healthy life. I have just spent a lunchtime with a group of Ba’hai people originally from Persia(Iran) but left twenty years ago to escape persecution. They are neighbours from across the road and they asked us to join them and their extended families. I loved the fact that they are all so contented,they are connected with each other’s lives, the women were nurturing their families, the men were all so proud of their offspring, the food was laid out as a banquet, young and old sharing food and the happiness was palpable. Persian tea and soft drinks shared on large trays. No alcohol ever in their lives. They are all successful business people and I know why. Because they are honest, they are awake and they are all so proud of their actions. For years I was dishonest, hiding the alcohol and restless to get home to my stash, I was half asleep at the wheel during all of my business transactions and I was never proud of my actions for no matter what I was doing there was always the alcohol element. I can remember almost every function I have ever been to (believe me I have been to a lot) in terms of what alcohol was available and how much I drank. My husband is the one who saw that I had hit rock bottom when he saw me drinking warm wine out of a plastic sports bottle. He is now my number one supporter. He can see me now treating each day as if I am discovering life for the first time. Body Snatchers embrace your freedom, you don’t have to go back there. Just think how happy you will be celebrating your fiftieth as a level headed sober woman. I hope you keep in touch with Unpickled. All of us out here in unpicked land are barracking for you.


  24. Body snatchers

    Well, here I am two weeks no alcohol. I did have a moment and have many. But made excuses as it only happens every other four months or so. But this last one has finally made me take a very hard look at myself. My husband came home to find me lying on the floor past out. Then i got up crying (about past hurts), slurring and completely out of it. The scary thing is I was walking around, vomiting in the toilet and rambling. It as if I had an alien take over my body. I was in a complete blackout. I don’t remember any of it. The next morning, I felt like shit and was ashamed. I would of never believed him. But, he videotaped it. I was pissed when he told me this. So, I watched it anyway because I thought he was exagggerating and being a dramatic jerk. As I watched it not only was I disgusted and felt sad for the woman (myself) on the video, but it was scary. Who was this woman? I too am a binge drinker. I don’t drink everyday. Sometimes, I could thread water just keeping my head above it. But, sooner or later I sink and it is ugly. I will have wide eyes and look as if I know what is going on and talking. But, I don’t. I too had this “BFF” in my life for years. Lots of good times and laughs. But as I have gotten older (in my forties) This friendship has takened an ugly turn. So, I have to say farewell to this pal I have had since H.S. Thank you so much for this blog. Thank you for sharing your own experiences.


  25. Unpickled I have been coming onto your website and have been keen to read new posts. You have had a good response to your latest story. Why do I do still read them? Because it is an affirmation to myself that it is normal to be going through the thought processes involved with being sober. I have had two nights out in the last few days and each time I have gladly asked for soft drinks. I do not crave any wine any more and I am three and a half months sober. I have a family wedding and a friend’s wedding to come in June. I am constantly being told that I look well and people are wanting to talk to me at parties mainly because I can keep a conversation going and I am good at introducing people to each other. I use social functions to hone my skills in networking. I am forever grateful that there is a group of like minded people on this site.


    • I found this sight again, It had dropped from my favorites during my computer’s upgrades?
      Its great to find a more positive take on this chosen change in lifestyle. Its important for me to stay connected to your wonderful source of understanding and support. Thank you!


  26. Unpickled, I’m here and still going! Thank you. Reading Allan Carr’s book about quitting drinking. It is not bad and certainly helps you believe that you really do not want to drink or that drinking is the not the crutch or courage you think it is. I went to a function on the weekend (where all were ploughed with alcohol, as are all events it seems), not only was I not drinking, I didn’t envy those who were too much. Certainly could manage the situation without any self-pity. A good read that I would recommend if you are one of those night time 2-5 glasses of wine drinkers who think you may or may not have a problem but would like to explore cutting down or quitting. Thank you for this and your support.


  27. Checking in in with my friends and supporters. I still visit the web site daily, read and reread. I looked back to “calling all mockers and fabbers”, that was when I left my first desperate confession. My last drink of wine was March 2nd, and I am still going strong. Or maybe going, going, going, not always so strong. I can not say that I do not think about it, dream about it, rationalize about it, actually invision every ounce of it’s liquid state. But, it is so dangerous to me. Dangerous like somebody taking themselves off of high blood pressure medicine, dangerous like a diabetic not checking their blood sugars. Yes, yes, and yes, I am still struggling and fighting off the demons. I will tell myself that I can just treat myself because I have been so good…. “after all the Journals of Cardiac Medicine suggest 1 glass of wine to reduce your cholesterol,” and of course it has been scientifically proven, well, well there you go scientifically proven! Even the experts say it is okay. Oh! and how about all of my friends! They drink and seem to be okay. Each day remains a challenge. I honestly do not think I have ever been on such an important, meaningful, tough, exhausting, all encompassing journey ever before in my entire life. Sometimes I honestly do not know, how I got myself in this pickle to begin with.


  28. Reblogged this on corkedandclear and commented:
    A blog that keeps me going…


  29. W.O.W. Your posts never cease to amaze me – thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences. You are immensely helpful, and I’m sure I speak for many (if not all) who read your posts. Keep up the great work!


  30. Dear Unpickled, I just found your blog, and fell in love! You are a gifted writer with an amazing talent for getting to the heart of recovery issues. I hope you will give my blog a visit sometime, and I will be thrilled to keep coming back to yours!


    • Thank you kindly – what a good pleasure to meet you and discover your writing as well. I just boiled over the rice while poking around your blog – now I have a mess to clean but I’ll be back! UnP


  31. Nothing ventured – have you read Jason Vale’s book, Kick the drink? In it he makes a similar comparison with bananas which always makes me smile. If we overheard someone describing how they only have ‘one or two bananas a day’ or boasting how they can ‘go a whole week without bananas’ then we would know they had a problem. Silly isn’t it? x


    • I haven’t read this, but probably should. I just finished “Almost Alcoholic’ and still not sure what I think. I mean, I agree with them in that there’s a spectrum from social drinker to alcoholic and that I very much fall into the Almost part (I’d say a 6 out of 10 on their scale), but I also don’t think their “Almost’ scale starts as soon as they think it does. I know a lot of people who drink more frequently than their ‘social’ drinker area, and are NO WHERE NEAR being in the ‘Almost’ range. Ultimately the important part is I know I fall in the range and need to work on that.


  32. NothingVentured

    The whole ‘supply’ issue really speaks to me. I’ve tried for so long to tell myself this is normal, but hearing others talk about it puts it in perspective. I also can to realization that how much alcohol is left is the ONLY thing on which I truly obsess. If someone told me they worried constantly about much Pepsi or how many potato chips were left, I’d definitely recognize a problem! But me sneaking in an extra glass of wine in the kitchen? Nope, that’s fine – who DOESN’T do that?! Apparently people WITHOUT drinking problems! BTW – I’m back to day one. Please wish me luck. I’m tired of falling off and then under the wagon.


  33. Hi all, today I am back to day 1 for about the sixth time! So frustrating but I think I am feeling a little more determined right now and the posts above have really helped – thank you! I long for the day when I can say it has been two years since my last drink. Well done and congrats to both Michelle and Unpickled. I envy you both so much.


    • NothingVentured

      Kate – I am RIGHT THERE WITH YOU! I was doing so well I thought I could ‘treat’ myself. Treat myself like crap is more like it . I have your back – we can do this together!


      • Hi nothing ventured. How r u doing? I am up to day 7. Feeling way better already. Just need to stick to it…


        • Anon – thanks so much for asking and CONGRATULATIONS on your day 7! I am also still in the game, although the weekend was a little tough going at times. I am also feeling much better, which is usually dangerous ground for me. I start to feel really good and forget all the foul-fu*kery that comes with drinking and tend to slip back in. I didn’t this weekend – even though I did get a little bored (a trouble spot) and did talk with my parents on the phone (usually another occasion to have a good 1/2 bottle of wine whilst talking/listening)!

          I hope you continue doing well – I’m going on a business trip later this week and that will be a challenge. I also have to buy some alcohol for the person house/dog sitting for me, so there will be booze in the house for a little while. Ah, the siren’s song…I’ll buy some earplugs.


  34. Glad to have this site with wonderful loving, understanding souls. Had a moment last night. Had to step back and disect that moment. But, indeed…the temptation was there. I felt it in my finger tips..almost child-like, giddy, facing a big exciting moment. It was a moment of just familiarity. I got out of the shower, put clothing on, trotted down the stairs, shook my hair and than…no call, off duty, house cleaned…than what? Well….. I will tell you what I do next… Next…I go pour a glass of wine…Right? WRONG! and Hell NO! ” No that is not what I do next.” I have literally had and am still trianing my brain. The grey matter was so lathered in wine, I am still rinsing out the bubbles……Maybe I should run my body through a car wash a few times over. But, I have realized it is not just the outside that needs sprucing up..I am working on a inside/outside overhaul. I have found that the commin, familiar signals are tough, just like the emotional/stressful, anxiety emotions.


    • “The grey matter was so lathered in wine, I am still rinsing out the bubbles…” Powerful words, amazing imagery. You are right about those knee-jerk moments of pouring a glass on rote. After two years, it still amazes me that my brain “goes there” for a split second before my recovery mindset kicks into gear. This is what it means to “always be an alcoholic” – we have to keep the motivation and willpower alive because that little bastard on the shoulder may get smaller and quieter but it never fully disappears.


  35. I just want to ask anyone else if they have experienced what I have experienced lately? Three months sober tomorrow. It is a new, almost strange sense of wellbeing and happiness. It usually comes on doing the most mundane things, like walking down the grocery aisle, or hanging the clothes out to dry. It is a beautiful sense of peace. I also get it cooking and talking on the telephone. I am thinking that for thirty years I have masked my own sense of who I am with the effects being inebriated and that I didn’t enjoy the moment because I was always restless and prickly. The shame has lifted and underneath I have found a nice person who is capable of of being happy and content. I can feel, I can smell and I can taste the love for my surroundings and my family. I feel like I am on a happy drug. This is what real life is like!


    • YES!!! Getting the booze out of your brain cleared the path for all the good stuff to get through so you can actually feel your emotions again. Of course, this also means that the negative emotions can be felt more vividly, but we feel them and actually address them and then move on – which is much much better than being numb to everything. So happy for you, Coming Clean! UnP


  36. Awesome posts and love the comments. Oh that panic and my eyes flitting around the room checking who is pouring what, how much is there left? what’s in the fridge? fill the glass to the top and slurp it down straight away.. I’m still amazed that only one person in my whole life didn’t seem surprised when I said I had a problem with booze and was giving it up. Amazing what we hide, and what is acceptable in our societies. Anyway.. I too am a night-time snacker – bowl of cereal, yes! Trying to knock that nasty little habit on the head right now. Great post. xxx


  37. First of all, thank you so much for being raw and open, and for taking the huge leap of faith in sharing your story. I know it started as just a way to get your thoughts out but it is such a huge and humble helping hand to so many of us.

    Here is what I have to add to the other comments. In drinking for close to 23 years (I’m 37) I have had so many embarrassing and risky moments as a result of drinking. From the memory lapses to the dark and dangerous places where I became a victim (of both myself and others), from the drunken phone calls, to the hungover mornings where I couldn’t take care of my children, from the questionable situations where work and social boundaries were crossed, to the depressed, sad, and lonely moments, of drinking by myself, there was always shame and always coping mechanisms I used to deny or avoid the shame. It was easy to forget my embarrassment or shame by just drinking more, and drinking more frequently. I am only five days into this journey but in reality I have needed to take a break, for a long time. The signs have been there, the reasons are many but it’s taken until recently to say enough it enough. Nothing happened any worse or more compelling than other events, just that voice saying it’s time to stop and enough is enough.


  38. Great post god knows I remember all of this too.
    But I actually came on to say Happy Birthday! You and I share March 21 as our sobriety date, and with 2 years gone, 2 years of freedom from that crap….that shame, that self-hatred, that drinking, well, I just had to acknowledge it for you, and for me.
    Calling you out…acknowledging the wonder!



    • Thanks, Michele and congrats on your milestone! How did you celebrate? I did two things – went to dinner with my wonderful husband, who insisted we acknowledge the event. Secondly, I ordered a pretty necklace custom stamped with the word “unpickled” – will I be brave enough to wear it? Will I answer honestly if asked about it? Yes and hopefully yes – I am shyly feeling ready to talk more openly and take ownership of my addiction and recovery. Why? Because the more of us who come forward, the less power stigma will have, and the more that can help others like us. Finding a way to help others by being more open is my goal for the NEXT two years… Many blessings to you as you continue on the journey! Thank you for being so supportive and helpful.


      • WOW!!!!
        I love this! That’s the thing, right, there is nothing wrong with us…the stigma sucks and keeps others from seeking recovery. Acknowledging that is big, and being of service is even bigger.
        I love the necklace idea, wear it proudly!
        I didn’t do anything particularly fabulous, celebrated at meetings and meals afterwards, but, oh, do I feel fabulous, and so grateful to be off that rollercoaster.
        Yeah us!


  39. YES. Great post. LOVE your writing. To Anonymous, and everyone struggling with that shame: it is only the catalyst to get you to quit drinkin’. It is not you, and it is not all-powerful, and it DEFINITELY will not stick around forever. You won’t let it! If others want you to hold onto it–like gills on a bird–well, that’s none of your business. Don’t let the weight of that shame hold you down. xx


  40. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.


  41. Wow! I almost have no words right now. I will go back to sleep, get up in an hour or so. Go to work and think about this. I was the young girl in that dark kitchen. But….. I never had the guts to fess up. It never ended with any form of a memorable moment, i.e. with a laugh, or with any possible gesture of acceptance. Thanks to all again! The words, thoughts, descriptions, and honesty are truely healing. The journey continues……..


  42. Or..going into a panic when you can see there is only enough wine left in the bottle for one glass, quickly taking it before another guest does. Lovely! Or carrying half full wine glasses to the kitchen under the guise of helping to tidy up and secretly downing them on the way to the basin.

    And my personal (un)favourite – pouring the wine in a tall glass and adding juice to disguise it’s colour. Who drinks BEFORE the guests arrive, BEFORE a kids party??

    It’s great to be free. Thank you all!


    • Yes yes, constant panic over whether or not there is *enough* wine. Buh-bye anxiety. I do not miss you one bit.


      • Unpickled, I look forward to not caring about supply because it brings me nothing but shame. It is shameful to want to drink out of any glass that still has wine in it. It is equally shameful to actually do it because you are too drunk to notice whose glass it is anyways. Could be mine, who cares, shouldn’t be wasted. That is just not ok. Who am I kidding to think that may not have a problem if everything here resonates so deeply.

        This post and the responses, more than any other, have touched me and confirms my instincts. I have felt/done all of these – hid the white in the back of the fridge and the red behind the coffee maker all to conceal consumption (never cracked out the box wine though I trust that nobody here discriminates against the bottle drinkers.)

        I have pulled my kids home in a wagon absolutely loaded after a “mommy playdate”. I have thrown myself into a shower to stop the room from spinning and being too drunk to stand, have taken some nice long naps in there (naps? Really!!!??? or would that be passing out?). Nothing like having wonderful McHusby haul your drunk arse out of the shower. Hasn’t happened in a long while but it has happened more than once. So, yes, I’m ashamed. All the drunk phone calls while cleaning the kitchen after the kids are in bed. They are not bad chats at all, so I think, maybe they were, I just don’t remember much of them the next day. Reflecting generally, I can thank too much wine (rephrase, my drinking too much wine) for all my life’s most shameful moments, phone calls, emails, parties, proms, barmitzvahs, weddings (including my own first one – starter marriage) , from age 17 and onward. I’m 40.

        So yesterday I posted my first comment. I would like to change it because upon further reflection, I am in NO WAY my best self drunk or loaded or typsy or buzzed. How could I be? I am probably tolerable, slightly more amusing and witty at the beginning stages and towards the end, lacking in all grace and poise, probably embarrasing….with wine breath to boot. Gross. Nobody would ever say anything though because they don’t want to embarrass me or they were just a drunk too. No more shame. Thank you. I’m hitting “post comment”, I will, I am…. ahhh, I’m nervous…

        Day 3 seems possible and if later today I doubt, I will re-read this.


        • There is power in the raw honesty that you are voicing – it is an uncomfortable gift when that honesty comes over you and forces you to acknowledge the truth. You have harnessed the power now and are using it to propel you – stay strong and don’t cower from it. Hang in there. Save those words you wrote and come back to them. If the booze whispers to you and says, “okay you made it through 5 days so you can modify – one little glass won’t hurt and you deserve it for how hard these past few days have been” — go back and read your comment above again and refresh your vision of the truth. You don’t have to do it alone – there is all kinds of help available and lots of choices for recovery. But it all starts with that honesty, and you have it in spades.


  43. I have to tell you that when I was reaching out to find a way through, yours was the first blog I ever read. I went back to the beginning and read every entry. The fact that you are so honest and write with such connection really resonated and made me feel it was possible for me too. I have just passed my initial goal of 90 days sober, now contemplating the next commitment. Thank you so much, you have no idea what a difference it made to my belief and resolve.


    • TJ, It touches my heart to hear that our shared experience forms a bond of strength. 90 days is an incredible milestone. I’m so happy for you. I started this blog thinking no one would ever read it, then I thought people might read it because my story was so unusual and unique. And then, quite quickly, the BEST thing happened and I realized how utterly normal my story is, and that the common threads and lessons along the way that make us say “ah yes, me too” are most helpful to ourselves and to new readers searching for a way out of their darkness. You and I may never meet….or maybe we are neighbors. That’s the best and worst part of this format – the freedoms and limits. Either way, it’s my pleasure to be part of your journey. I am honoured. Xo, UnP


  44. Oh, God. The hiding. The lying. Why did I do it for 10+ years? It was exhausting… what a waste of my time and energy. Shudder.

    That thing you wrote about ‘We filled the glass before it was empty so we could say it was still “just one”.’ I laughed in a sad kind of self-recognition when I read that – I had forgotten that ‘trick’. I used it for years!

    So, I wish you the best of luck in staying out of the darkness… stay strong!


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