The first time I sat down at my computer and searched for information about addiction and recovery, I felt like the only person in the world to ever ask “how do I quit drinking?” Now I am reminded regularly that many people around the world do exactly that every day.
WordPress kindly provides a stats page to show the number of visits a blogger’s page receives, as well as the countries that viewers originate from, and some of the search terms that lead visitors to the page.
Please don’t panic – I have no way to see who you are or where you are live or what other pages you’ve looked at. Your privacy is not comprised. It is simply a snapshot of traffic on my blog – how many clicks on each blog post, and so on. There are hundreds of visits every day from origins around the globe totaling more than 100,000 and growing rapidly. If my little squeak of a blog reaches that many people, imagine the millions of seekers across all the other recovery blogs and websites out there. Ordinary folks just like you and me.
The most common search terms leading to UnPickled include “quit drinking”, “sober blogs for women”, and “sobriety blogs”. Many search “unpickled” and I’m guessing those are repeat visitors or possibly canning enthusiasts. Some searches give me a lump in my throat, such as “please god help me quit drinking” and “quit drinking and be a better mom”.
Every now and then the list of searches includes “who is the author of unpickled” and I hold my breath. Is someone onto me? If so, I pray it’s a kindred spirit like my clever friend in Busted and not one of my husband’s old girlfriends or someone I’ve had to fire at work.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the pros and cons of stepping out from the shadows and taking ownership of my identity as UnPickled.
PRO: Help break down the stigma of addiction by showing that I am a real, every day person.
CON: Once it’s out there I can’t take it back and there could be backlash.
PRO: Allow myself to feel proud of my strength in recovery and tell Mr. Shame to take a flying leap.
CON: I am still embarrassed that I was ever addicted.
PRO: Encourage others to open up and get help.
CON: Risk gossip in my community.
Okay now wait a minute – encourage and help others vs. risk gossip? Is there any question that helping others outweighs mild scandal by a long shot?
You see, it’s not a worry if the readers of UnPickled discover my identity as the author. I would love to share more of who I am with you, because even though I own a business you’ve never heard of and live in a city you likely couldn’t find on a map , I know we have a lot in common, you and me. We’ve shared our most private stories, and by doing so realized that all of us struggle and triumph in similar ways.
The hard part is knowing that if I reveal myself, the people of my community will eventually catch wind of this blog and come seeking juicy bits of water cooler chat.
“And then what might happen?” asks the Dr. Drew of my imaginary therapy sessions.
Then they’d laugh about me.
“And then what…?” he presses on, kindly.
They’d know my private stories.
And think I am weak.
“Or possibly they’d see that you are stronger than they ever knew. And more honest.”
To the readers of this blog who came looking for fellowship on their journey to recovery:
You will now see my picture on the About UnPickled page. I am scared shitless, but I believe you will see yourself in me. I am just one of many faces of recovery, and if you ever recognize me in an airport or maybe even in my own hometown I hope you’ll say hello, tell me how we’re connected, and give me a hug. We’re in this together.
To the readers of this blog who are here for pure interest because they know who I am:
Please tread lightly through these woods. Please read the hundreds and hundreds of comments from people around the world and respect that my story is their story. Resist the urge to be entertained and instead let yourself be moved. Something beautiful has been happening here. Maybe it’s time you knew.
My name is Jean, and I am UnPickled.