Recovery is Leadership

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I spent years wanting to quit drinking but continued because I was terrified of pinning on the “ALCOHOLIC” badge.  When I finally quit, it was without the certainty that I was an alcoholic at all, but rather that I was in desperate need of peace.

Three years later, I am comfortable with the knowledge that I was an active alcoholic, I am a person in recovery, and that recovery is leadership.

Today I made a new label for myself and this blog.



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 June 24, 2014, in Getting Sober and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. Hello, I am one year sober! I recently wrote a song called “Sobriety.” It’s about addiction and recovery. Here is the link:


  2. I found your blog yesterday and spent some time reading through a few of the posts and comments. As I read, I kept thinking, “Yep, yep, yep…..that’s me.” It’s interesting how similar the behaviors, patterns, and thoughts are amongst people dealing with this struggle. Yesterday was my Day 1. Thank for putting your journey out there. It has obviously inspired many people!


    • Thanks, Jen and welcome to this warm community of encouragement and support! We all help one another so please be sure to comment lots and let us all know the lessons and experiences of your journey.

      On Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 7:39 AM, UnPickled wrote:



  3. I have tried this so many times before…it is destroying my life…it will kill me and I will lose all I have. Day one feeling pretty bad, but here we go.


    • Day 1 is rough but you can do it. I cried secretely all day off and on; on my day 1. Day 2 I still felt shitty but a little less than day 1. I’m on day 4…feeling better than days 1-3! Stay strong! Good luck!


      • Thanks KAM…I am sure it is gojng to get worse before it gets better…I have a lot of mending to do with myself and others….its rather humbling to call any of my true support group I am just not ready to talk to them. Feels like the world is crashing in onme.


      • 62 hours sober.. The goal is 100 hours. Reading blogs like this helps but somewhat also depressing. Wishing everyone strength and positive thoughts.


    • You are not alone and your life is worth everything it takes to get this journey started and keep it going. Almost everyone has multiple false starts before “getting it” – don’t give up!


  4. Unpickled & friends….
    After reading this last post and trying desperately to quit on my own and having some disturbing binges over the past few weeks – I went to talk to a counselor today and have decided I need help with quitting. My problem is not that I “need” alcohol, but instead, when I consume the first drink it leads to many many many many many many more (no exaggeration). I’m sort of proud of myself that no one had to make me do this. I’m also scared that because I’m doing this through my healthcare professional – that at some point my colleagues or my job may find out. I work for a company that requires certain level clearances to do the type of work that we do…I can only imagine what would happen if I responded “yes” to the question, “have you ever seeked assistance for alcohol or drug abuse”. For me, this is more preventative than anything. My dad, was an alcoholic growing up. When I was young, he went into a treatment facility for alcoholism and it was during that time they found out he had cancer. Lucky for us, my dad survived. He hasn’t a drink in 24 years but I don’t want to put my son through that. I remember so many times my dad taking a few days off from drinking just to binge for another two weeks. I feel like my recent drinking behavior will lead to something similar if I don’t get a handle on it now. I’m sad, and disappointed in myself a little bit, because I’ve told myself several times, today is the last day you drink…and that will last maybe, a week. One time it lasted for nearly 3 weeks. I’m very scared of what my friends will think of me. I am always the one suggesting we all get together for cocktails or to hang out (which means cocktails) or girls night out (which means cocktails) or Saturday brunch (which means cocktails)…what will they think of me when I say the words, “I quit drinking”. Don’t get me wrong, I know they will love me and will support me, but in the beginning, I don’t think they will take me serious. I don’t know if I should try distancing myself from my friends for a month or so – just until I stop “thinking” about it (not sure if I ever will, but this is where I am today). My other hardest struggle is that I have not told my husband that I think I have a problem. We’ve talked about my consumption before and I told him I was concerned and even he, doesn’t know to what extent I drink. I found myself hiding it – a lot. The other weird thing about my habit is that I associate being at home & bored with drinking. When I’m out and about or even busy around the house – I don’t think about it, AT ALL. But when I’ve cleaned all that I could clean, and folded all the laundry, and cooked all that I can cook – I feel like, I deserve a drink. Well that leads to waaaaayyy too many!!!
    I apologize if I’m babbling – so many thoughts in my head and not quite sure how to express it.
    Unpickled, your “hidden” habit has also been mine. I also wondered if this habit was associated with alcohol abuse. Thank you for letting me know I’m not crazy. I feel like the habit is also an addictive behavior that is difficult to stop. My dad, the recovering alcoholic, also picked/scratched scabs. I almost feel relieved to know others share in these same behaviors.
    I believe your posts will not only help me, but many many others like me (us). I wish I could say I was 3 years in…but I am proud to say, I made it through the weekend completely sober…this is day #3 for me…I meet with a chemical dependency counselor next week. Wish me luck!
    To all, thank you for sharing your stories. Blogs like these do nothing but help others in need of the support!


    • Thank you so much for sharing your story – we learn so much from one another. Yes, there is a clear link between anxiety, addiction, perfectionism, depression, OCD, eating disorders, and even hoarding. I have learned this from many sources, and say so as a moderately-informed layperson and not an expert; feel free to do some research and see if you find the same thing. I have had dozens and dozens of emails since posting the story of my OCD from others just like you and me – most people are too ashamed to discuss it (like addiction) so it stays a secret and we all feel alone. Bravo on starting a new life without alcohol – don’t give up. Some people backslide at first so if you have I want you to get right back up and keep going for your kids. You can break the cycle – you can’t change the genetic predisposition you and they inherited from your dad’s family, but you can teach them how to live joyfully without alcohol and how to get up and fight for what is important. xoxo


  5. Hi. I am 7 weeks sober. I love “recovery is leadership” and I am inspired by your post at a time I really need inspiration. For some reason I am really down today and can’t seen to pin point why. I am so glad you are all here. I see all sides of the issue discussed here. Whether we call it recovered, recovery, or whatever, We are all going through this process called life, and sometimes I think life itself is a series of recoveries (whether you have stopped or are stopping drinking, some other addiction, a relationship, a demeaning job, or recovered from an injury), just like it is a collection of experiences, feelings, successes, failures, etc . All of this makes up who we are and we just keep evolving.


  6. Thanks for the update and congrats on this new stage in your journey. As I approach 6 months sober this weekend, I want to say that you are indeed a leader and I applaud you embracing the role with the new logo. I’m not sure where I would be if I had not found your blog, the Bubble Hour, and many of the other great bloggers and other resources out there. Learning that I wasn’t alone in this was — and still is — the best part of sobriety and your blog played a major role in that. Thank you for all that you do. It inspires me to lead in my recovery as well.


  7. Recovery. To me, it’s a word with finite meaning. “I tore my rotator cuff and I’m in recovery.” At the end of the recovery period, I have a certain amount of mobility and have come to terms with my injury. My recovery from a torn rotator cuff doesn’t define me, although my limited mobility is a reminder that the injury happened. My injury impacted few. Many never noticed my inability. However, it impacted me deeply and continues to impact me on my surface in that I take special precautions when I wakeboard, lift weights, and garden. But I recovered.

    This is my sticking point with labels. I don’t want my drinking or my decision to quit to define me. I’m not in recovery, I’m living life, Life is so big and encompassing that I want all experiences to be a part of me, deep and defining parts, nitty gritty and awful included…as long as they are far away. All experiences are times that brought me to a higher meaning of who I am and what I stand for – what kind of discipline I can embrace and the future for me that I can envision. It is like I said to you, Jean, one time “recover already so I know I can move on one day.”

    Unfairly, I was looking to you to define a path for me. Our roads were so parallel and I wanted the looking glass. In so many ways, you provided that, and for so many. But to get stuck in recovery because we figured out our relationship with alcohol was wrong seems stifling to me. Again, to me.

    I think there’s a parallel for women both hormonally and emotionally in our forties and fifties where we look at life and wonder what is it all for and is this all there is. Alcohol seems a great crutch as we bare knuckle it thru familial and hormonal changes while looking for the greater good out there. Why get so stuck in the recovery from one aspect of our lives when there’s so much more out there? There is, afterall, estrogen. As I quickly approach 50 and my body is giving out on me (face plant while wake boarding the other day and my shoulder… well that’s been said) my physical limits are giving me more frustration than whether or not alcohol is right or wrong for me today.

    I will most likely get skewered for this post, but at times I think we suffer from analysis paralysis. There’s a different tone since you’ve come back from Women in Recovery and I’m not certain I’d say it’s from a point of strength. We beat ourselves up so much as women, mothers, and wives, why not accept that we may have chosen a short term path both physically and mentally that is/was unhealthy, and we made a decision to change, and move on? I don’t want to wallow in all the bad that occurred OR could have occurred and I want to dial in to now. Life is so short…so short. I need to live it.

    We suck you dry. We read your blog, listen to your podcast, and email you. We limit your boundaries because you give back to us. You are wonderful for all those reasons. I only question when is it too much? Is recovery perpetual because it’s a mutual need or that we need you more? I don’t have the answer. I only know you have been wonderful to me and so many others and both the conversation and life is so broad.

    PS I’m selling pickle charms for $50 and all of the proceeds are going to you so retire and recover already.. Dammit.


    • Hi M2, I was wondering where you went. Rest assured, I am well and strong, and this blog is indeed a labour of love, as are all recovery advocacy projects I undertake including The Bubble Hour and UnPickled on Facebook. I learn a ton from all of it. Recovery is not a label – it’s a process, a journey, and one for which I am grateful. All the best, my friend.


    • I have some of these exact thoughts. I recognized I was living in a way that was hurting me mentally and physically. Comprehending that was tough. Changing it was tougher. But I did. Now what?
      Some days I think I need the constant sober chatter of support. The meetings.
      Others I think I could just accept I no longer drink and just go on enjoying my newly rediscovered life. In the same way I gave up gluten when diagnosed with celiac disease. No debate. I just say no. For good.


  8. Work in progress

    I’m new at posting but have been following this blog for weeks, it’s great. I’m part of the minority on here being a male, but alcohol does’t care what your religion is, or your sex, or your income, it will take us all down if we let it. My problem is I let it and now I’m digging back out of the fog of being a “Professional Drinker”. Everything in my life revolved around alcohol but I could handle it, only the weak people had a problem with it not a working professional. Now here I am after pushing my ex-wife away for the past 5 years because i thought she was the problem, not me, I’m a functional citizen not a drunk needing help. So I’m ready to tell you I was wrong. I am an Alcoholic, and I need help, and I’m getting it as I type. I’ve been working on “me” for the past two weeks and I’ve cut it back every night, have not gotten to the zero stage yet but that’s my goal. Never had a hangover, way past that stage, but knowing I’m not the person I want to be and ready for a change. Starting AA tomorrow and making life and friend changes so I’m ready, I’m a work in progress………..


  9. I applaud your authenticity in a world that makes it all too easy to hide behind different labels. Glad you found your way of understanding. Recovery is difficult for most, your leadership might just offer some much-needed guidance!


  10. This is an amazing statement and so true. Thank you for all that you do Jean. Yours was the first blog I found and it has led me to so many other online resources. I am currently reading “Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol,” by Ann Dowsett Johnson. I heard her on the Bubble Hour with you and Amanda I believe. It is a fascinating book and was a fascinating discussion. I read messages from the BFB every day. I joined Belle’s 100 Day Challenge. I am so in awe of Mrs. D after seeing her TV interview. I look forward to her book. I have read hers and your bogs completely. Your new cover art is so right – people in recovery are leaders! Without your honesty here and your work on The Bubble Hour, and the women listed above, I could not have made it 44 days so far. And so far I really like living alcohol free! I am discovering that I am smiling more and living in the moment more; I am more present with family and friends. And I am reminded that every day is not necessarily full of non-stop joyous moments – I still get sad and mad and tired and frustrated at times – but this is real life! And feeling everything without having the effects of alcohol, on the day of and the day after, interfering with my living is so refreshing!


    • Thank you for your warm words and for sharing your story. You are an inspiration!


    • Were we separated at birth? Because I want to say everything that you’ve just said! I’m on Day 61. Some ups and downs, but the wonderful Jean, Mrs D, Belle, and a sober penpal are really keeping me going, day by day. And it’s great to spot comments from people like you, so I know you’re still out there and keeping going! Annie x


      • Hi Annie! I have been thinking about you. And then I just your very kind comment here today. I saw you posted today too. I have an idea for you! I will try to email you through the Yahoo BFB.


  11. Congratulations on 3 years, and on the new blog label!
    Recovery has given new meaning to my life. Today I have been sober for 30 months. It only gets better.


  12. I like this a lot. I hope you’ll write about it more down the road if you’re moved to. Hope all is well!


  13. I like the new badge a lot. Like you I struggled to accept the word “alcoholic,” but I see now that I had to accept that (or some other equally uncomfortable word, like “addiction”) before getting to recovery, which is the really great part. Once I accepted the word, it stopped being so terrible after all. I like your take on recovery, and I’m really grateful for the leadership you’ve shown. xo


  14. I like it! I, too, only embraced the term alcoholic after I’d stopped; I think it’s quite common for us to say well, I might not be an alcoholic, but I don’t like how I’m living, so I’ll just see how it goes…and then later, come to the label on our own. Which is why I have issues with the AA model. If I had waited until I was ready to say ‘I am an alcoholic and I can’t do this myself’ I would probably still be drinking. I don’t mean that AA itself requires one to say that, exactly, but the popular perception out there is that until you admit that you’re an alcoholic, you’re in denial and therefore beyond help. Which is not true, as we are showing, every day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, just to say that it is a misconception that you have to self identify as an alcoholic to attend or be a member of AA. AA Tradition 3 – “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking”

      AA does however strongly discourage any personal public identification with AA. There are many reasons for this which can be boiled down to it has been shown to be potentially harmful to the individual’s recovery and to AA as a whole.

      Tradition 2 -“For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern”

      Traditions 11&12 “Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us.
      And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all.”


    • Hi Afteralcohol. I hear what you’re saying and I see that your sentiments have prompted Daisy to give us some excerpts from AA’s Big Book. Please feel free to take it or leave it, as I believe it is meant to be an explanation of Daisy’s choice of recovery pathway and not an argument against yours.


      • Well, indeed, and while I’m always happy to concede that I don’t know what goes on inside the rooms (The Rooms), I was more thinking about the general perception, played out in popular culture, that one must admit powerlessness in order to move on, and that tends to look like an admission of alcoholism.


  15. Your leadership has helped many many others. Including me!
    Thank you!


  16. Hodgepodge 4 the Soul

    I’m rejoicing with you! 🙂


  1. Pingback: The Ghosts of My Drinking Past, Present, and Future | clearmom

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