Secrets: The Superfood of Addiction
How many green smoothies are clogging your news feed on Facebook and Pinterest these days? Every day it’s another picture posted by another person gushing about the merits of their baby-poop-coloured concoction.
Now I like smoothies on occasion and yes I, too, have been delighted to find that adding a bag of spinach to raspberries and yogurt in a blender tastes surprisingly good. I swear, though, that half of these folks really just want you to know that they gagged it down and are digesting 5 cups of spinach RIGHT NOW. (Note: give it a couple of hours and then update us on the outcome…or…don’t.)
Between the weird smoothie craze and all the noise about gojii berries, acacia juice, and coconut oil, we are constantly bombarded with the notion of “superfoods”.
When I hear that someone is on a whole food, super food, raw food diet I think, “Wow, how do you even manage that?” There was a time, two and a half years ago, when I wondered the exact same thing about people who don’t drink, or even those who drink normally.
“How do you manage an evening without drinking?” I’d wonder. “Do people just, like, have water? Or tea? And then read or go to bed? And feel happy about that?” I’d spent so many years unwinding with wine in the evening, (or eventually at the end of the day because evening didn’t come fast enough), that I could no longer even imagine life without it.
Since I pledged recovery (a new phrase I’m liking better than “got sober” or “quit drinking” – let me know your thoughts, please) – since I pledged recovery I have not looked back. It was hard at first but it got easier and easier with time to form new patterns and habits. And yes, a cup of tea and a good book really does make for a fine evening.
Perhaps most surprising to me is that the changes continue, the recovery continues; even after all this time. My peace has grown exponentially in recent months as a result of examining the secrets I’ve kept hidden inside.
Have you ever run into the store to pick up one or two items and instead ended up filling your arms and tottering to the cashier? And when a helpful clerk says, “Here, hon, let me help you”, it’s almost a bother because you can’t seem give over one thing without toppling the whole load? You finally start setting it all down and it’s kind of a shock to realize you had a six pack of Gatorade hanging off your right pinky and a tube of toothpaste tucked under your chin and a can of tomatoes centered perfectly in your palm with a watermelon nestled in the crook of each arm. “Whoa, why the hell didn’t I use a cart?” you marvel and feel slightly impressed with your juggling abilities.
That was exactly my experience when I started to realize the shitload of secrets I was protecting. Yes, yes I am familiar with the good old AA mantra, “you’re only as sick as your secrets”. But I hate clichés and especially those with alliteration.
And besides, I thought the secrets that particular expression refers to are only DRINKING secrets. I didn’t have any left really – well except that I had drank in secret. And recovered in secret. And blog secretly.
But lets talk about other secrets. The “peed my pants in sixth grade” variety. Or maybe those private things we call “indiscretions”. Secret things I dislike about myself. Dumb stuff I’m embarrassed I ever took part in. Weaknesses and failures. None of these things have ANYTHING to do with my addiction, though. Right?
My vision is of a garbage can that I have to drag around with me and sit on top of at all times to make sure that nothing gets out and no one peeks in. Of course, I have painted that garbage can and bedazzled it so it looks good on the outside. I can tap dance on top of it and pretend it is a stage. Or a soap box for mighty narrations. But inside, inside are all those secrets piled together. I don’t know what all is even in there after all these years but I know it will stink if I lift the lid and I’m sure as hell not going to let YOU catch a whiff.
Dragging this can around is exhausting. The job of sitting on the lid limits my activities and freedom to choose. I’m tired of waving my arms and telling knock-knock jokes to try and distract from its presence.
Fuck it. Let’s tip this sucker over.
Whoa – metaphor overload! Green smoothies and shopping carts and garbage cans. Are you still with me? Let’s bring it on home.
Addiction feeds on secrets – especially those sneaky ones you don’t even realize are tucked under your chin or dangling off your pinkie. The things we think are true about ourselves that must be hidden from others are especially destructive. That’s the spinach in addiction’s smoothie. The stuff you know you hide, the stuff in your own garbage can, that’s just old junk holding you back.
Dump it out. Set it down. Have a look – it doesn’t smell nearly as bad as you think. Face it, think about it. Look in the mirror and say, “Yep, that really happened.” You’d be amazed how quickly the power dissolves when you share it with another person, if you dare.
It feels great to be more than just sober.
It is great to truly be recovering.
I forgot to mention in previous post that in addition to the morning scotch, i would rush home for afternoon throughout the evening Scotch. I don’t know why i felt compelled to add this snippet, but i thought it was pertinent.
I am reaching out, reading all these beautiful stories from all these beautiful people. Day 3, making it through. A few tears, not really sure why, but they’re nothing compared to my outbursts and drunken crying jags. My story is too much for me to bear or even share right now. But i will tell you that i was downing about 16 ozs. of CHEAP Scotch before work in the morning before work. I have quit 3 shitty jobs in 8 months. Not just quit, but walked out on my shift, middle fingers in the air, THAT kind of quitting. I have hated everything about myself and this addiction. The shame and guilt of this secret has changed my once funny, loving, smart soul into an angry, emotional negative bitch. 3 years ago i moved from California to Louisiana to start a new life, get off drugs and dump my abusive boyfriend, only to return to an alcohol addiction that resurfaced slowly over the last 3 years. So here i am. Unemployed, a bit reclusive, kinda sad with realizations hitting like bricks. Day 3, no hangover (now that’s different)! If anyone is reading this, thank you.
Hi Jill, it is Friday – the first weekend is often the hardest in early recovery so I encourage you to do some good preparations and plan ahead. Download some Bubble Hour podcast episodes, buy yourself some nice treats, stay away from boozy situations, set up a brunch or coffee date, and be ready to babysit yourself. You are doing great – keep it going!!!
I’m on day two! I loved my Scotch also, always will. I want to know who I am. I have been drunk most of my life, I started at 16 and now I’m 51. I’m looking at this as a challenge. I’m tired of being one third of what I could be and should be. I’m tired of throwing my hard earned pay away at bars which have yielded nothing. Here I go!
Wonderful – it’s time to realize your full capacity. Fantastic!
I listened to you on the Bubble Hour yesterday, in the podcast with Lotta Dann (Mrs. D is Going Without).
You said that when you were drinking, you used to fear going to sleep because then, you were alone with your thoughts.
I was on a long walk, while listening to the podcast, and I shouted aloud, for all the world to hear, “That’s it! That is how I feel! I drank to squash the night voices!”
The garbage can full of secrets is the same thing and I have got to deal with it by lifting the lid, peering inside and saying, “Yup, I did that…and that…and that…and yes, that happened to me..”
This is my 7th day of sobriety and those wormy thoughts visit me day and night.
Thank you for you amazing blog, Jean.
You, Belle, Mished up, Bye Bye Beer, and Mrs. D. are helping me to change my life, day by day.
I found this blog last week and I am really enjoying it. I was sober for almost two years and then thought I’d try to drink ‘normally’ ( whatever that means), November of last year. Well, as it turns out, I’m not a ‘normal’ drinker. I don’t have ‘just one’, unless there is literally none left. I am now realizing I want to stop, but I realize I need to set myself up for success; for me that means putting more positive stuff in than negative. I went for an hour long walk the other day and listened to Bubblehour. When I got home, I felt refreshed and not so alone. When I used to go to AA I thought I wasn’t a ‘bad enough ‘ alcoholic, like my ‘story’ was kind of boring: never had a DUI, not fired due to drinking, still married, still working, etc., etc. After reading this blog, I realize there are so many people out there who are just like me ( or I am just like them), and it feels comforting. I have not set a new ‘dry date’, but I am confident that when I do, I will be successful. All of this positive energy that exists in this ‘non drinking ‘ environment is palpable. I’m going to keep adding the positives to my life, and reading recovery blogs is now at the top of my list. Thank you ‘Unpickled’ for being brave and courageous. Your blog means a lot.
Great post. I too like your mention of the omnipresent green smoothie, and more powerfully, your pledging recovery. With 120 days of sobriety, I am struggling with feeling agitated and resentful that I couldn’t master moderation once I sensed a shift in my drinking. I am very grateful to have discovered your blog as tool for going through the difficult times versus around them.
Beautifully written and congratulations on your recovery journey. I hope you and all of you women (and men!) whom are writing and reading will also consider checking out in person recovery communities in addition to here.
I’m a recovering alcoholic and I thought I would never get a day without a drink. A year and a half later after lots of meetings and lots of prayers (that’s what worked for me) something changed. I’m now over 18 months sober and I honestly almost never think about drinking. I love AA sometimes, dont sometimes, and some meetings and people I connect with more than others. But I “keep coming back” and I keep looking at blogs like yours. And I connect with sober or looking to get sober or recovering or recovered or clean or whatever women… and I haven’t gotten drunk. Wishing you serenity and peace.
Ps- sick as our secrets means all of our secrets, its a reference to AA’s 4th and 5th step.
Thank you for this website it saved my life! Thank you for your courage and honesty. I have decided to stop lieing to myself. Today Iam 9 days sober I went to a party last night and did not drink it feels wounderful not to have a hangover today. I have a long way to go but I’m going to do it this time because all of you who write it is so nice to know I’m not alone. Debbie and I’m unpickled and proud of it. THANK YOU!
Woot woot! Go Debbie!
I am glad I found you. And that video at the end is so apt. That’s exactly what I fear I am missing! lol Thank you for putting yourself out there, out here.
Your blog as well as many other sobriety blogs has really inspired me. I stopped drinking three weeks ago after getting unexepectedly sloppy drunk, falling down several times, and blacking out. I couldn’t handle the guilt, shame and regret anymore and decided the only way to be 100 percent certain that this wouldn’t happen again is to never drink again. I am still dealing with the agitation of why I can’t enjoy the pleasures of alcohol when used in moderation but deep down I understand that my body doesn’t understand moderation… or at least not consistently. As I struggle through this phase of “Why can’t I drink like a normal person,” reading about the peace and gratitude experienced by those who are sober has given me tremendous comfort. Thank you so much.
Very thought provoking….Luv,Luv, Luv this posting.
I found this blog while searching for something to help me understand my alcoholic/addict husband. It gives me hope for him, even though there is nothing I can do for him.
Please take care of yourself, though! There is great support for families out there and lots of people who understand what you are going through.
This is fabulously written. Wonderful to see your posts again.
Don’t worry, I fall down the rabbit hole of analogies and metaphors all too often, but in this case, bravo, they worked beautifully. I loved it, from start to finish. A really great post about how all of a sudden, you just slap yourself in the face and go “What in the hell was I doing!?” and move forward from there.
I am still trying to quit my 3 glasses of wine a night. Sitting here awake in the early morning feeling awful again and promising myself I will stop. I started read recovery blogs a couple of weeks ago and found you – and couldn’t stop reading. You give me hope and remind me that there are many women like me out there. I don’t feel so alone and for the first time I can imagine -and really really want – a life without alcohol.
thank you for your post, I appreciate you and your writings thanks again for writing…I will patiently wait for you to blog again.
UnPickled…your blog is the first I came across a few weeks ago on searching for advice, help, support, etc. to quit drinking. I thought I was alone and really felt I was reading my own writing. I decided to pick a date….today is Day 2. I just finished reading every single post from you and each and everyone’s comments. Thank you & to all of your followers for being such an inspiration to me. This gives me confidence.
Yay you! Unpickled was the first sober blog I found too!! It led me to many more like Tired of thinking about Drinking and all the sites on Unpickled’s blog roll. Also the Bubble Hour podcasts really help to stay focused and learn about what so many of us go through when we commit to quit. It’s been 7 months for me. Lots of us are out here rooting for you!
On my second day of sobriety I discovered the online sober blogging community. It has been a lifesaver!
What a great blog and analogy!! I like your term – since you pledged recovery btw.