Top Reads: Your Favs and Mine

It’s always fun to look back over the analytics for my site and see what posts have been popular and which ones slide by unnoticed.

A post I wrote three years ago continues to be the most-read, and a cool graphic I made last year gets pinned and repinned on Pinterest constantly, making it a common visit as well. Meanwhile, some of my personal favourites – ones that were so raw and honest my hand shook as I hit “post” – are far from viral. I am sure every writer has those darling pieces that seemed certain to change the world but received little response.



#1 Top Post: How I Knew It Was Time to Quit Drinking  This post is read and shared on my site more than any other, perhaps because it answers a desperate question that Google is constantly being asked: how do I know when to quit? Even more interesting than the post itself  are the 1000+ (!) comments and interactions that follow.

#2 Top Post: Up and Down the Empathy Spectrum  I wrote this to work out my
understanding of emotional intelligence, sometimes called EQ to show it as a balancing factor to IQ. In doing so, I made a graphic to show the difference between apathy, co-dependence, narcissism, and empathy which turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself. Someone kindly shared it to Pinterest and it has made the rounds there, which was a happy surprise when I was searching for hairstyles and new recipes one day and saw my own graphic float by!

#3 Top Post: Is Non-Alcoholic Beer a Safe Option for Alcoholics? This is a contentious question and I have taken some major slams for my opinion but hey, I get it: Some people protect their sobriety ferociously because it is life or death. I wrote this over two years ago and got several “you’re gonna relapse!” messages as a result, but as you can see I am still going strong despite the occasional non-alcoholic beer. Check it out and consider where you stand on this issue.


If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t post it. But….looking back I sometimes cringe at my obvious denial or shortsightedness in some posts. It is tempting to go back and edit out those parts, or at least provide a sidebar to explain my evolution of perspective, but I’ve decided to let them stand as written to document my overall of growth and change.

The ones I’ve highlighted below were especially insightful as I wrote them and sparked some great exchanges in the comments sections.

Are You A Recovery Hero? My English degree comes in handy occasionally, like trying to sort out my life according to narrative tools like the hero’s journey.

Don’t Give Up I felt sick to my stomach after posting this  utterly vulnerable truth bomb but willing to lay it all out there in hopes of helping someone. It did help others, it still does. And it still scares me a little.

The Drama Triangle I love this tool, love it. Understanding the Karpman Drama Triangle changed my life. Check it out and see how you can apply this powerful insight to address patterns of behaviour you fall into yourself.


  1. Regarding non alcohol beer: Beer and wine were my go to drinks of choice. I could try non alcohol beer, and choose not to because just looking at the bottle gives me familiar stomach flutters. I have never touched ‘sparkling wine’ or juice for the same reason. A friend of mine cannot drink lime Coke because it kicked in his craving for rum and Coke. To each his own! Seriously annoys me when others tell you what is good for you, and predict failure if you follow a different path. I do not suscribe to AA though I use many of their tools. I do what works for me, and me alone. I share what works for me in hopes it helps someone, not to judge them. 12 years, and going strong!

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  2. Jean thanks (I’m just gonna say thanks times infinity do I don’t sound like a broken record). I have found so much strength by reading your words. I have not made it through all of your entires because when I came across the site I was really desperate to find something that would help me get to sustained action, but the “how I knew it was time to quite drinking” really helped me get through week 1.
    I am pacing myself through the older ones as I want to use them as companions on my journey from sobriety to recovery, and have mainly focused on the tour current posts because the “in real time” suport is really really helpful. I went away this weekend with the boyfriend this weekend and it was amazing, it was only a day but what a day! What made it most enjoyable was that I was present the whole time, even when I was experiencing anxiety the day of (wine and going away somewhere went hand and hand for me). I was anxious going to dinner but brought my sober toolkit with me…I read the Hip Sobriety post on this…I did some Kundalini breaths, brought my eucalyptus oil, and my awareness rock…I didn’t even need to fidget with the rock Kundalini breaths and the oil really helped. I also had mocktail at dinner (grapefruit, pomegranate, lavendar and seltzer…delicious), and after (citrus Italian soda with bitter orange peel). I know there is debate on this…I my previous attempts at sobriety I would drink non-alcohol beer, but I was still operating under the same mental framework, I was not entirely committed to sobriety (as I look back), this time around I saw the mocktail as another tool in my toolkit, as a harm reduction strategy. I know It can easily turn into an helpful pattern so I have to remain super mindful of what motivates the desire to have a mock-drink. In any event on our way back we were we were waiting for our train back home…the last time I was in that same train station I was on my way back from the airport and was as per usual drunk…being there yesterday and sober I felt so triumphant, and proud…I can’t describe with words the feeling I experienced exactly, but needless to say I felt a deep sense of gratitude and genuine joy, while at the same time experiencing sadness for the Past version of me who sat in the very station drunk and feeling defeated. This was a dilectical moment of sorts (you and Ellie spoke about DBT in the bubble hour podcast), and I was glad I was able to experience ALL of it. Onward to day 40 with love and gratitude.


    • Edit: I reference to the mocktail I meant to say it can turn into an “unhelpful pattern”, not a “helpful pattern”. Sorry for other typos I’m using my phone 🙂


    • I read this with a lump in my throat, moved by the power of change you’re experiencing in your life. Your appreciation for things like awareness and presence is so joyful, even in small moments like the train station. This is what it all about. Write these things for yourself where you can see them should you experience temptation or a low spot, which may eventually happen, as a reminder of why you’re doing this. Happy Day 40! If I could do a cartwheel to celebrate for you I would but you’ll have to settle for jazz hands and a one-legged kick until I get this cast off!


      • The picture of you doing jazz hands and high kicking with one leg brings a smile to my face. What a wonderful way to welcome and start my Sunday morning (Im a slow starter on weekend mornings…and can enjoy this slow start even more now that I’m not in hangover haze). I do fear the low points…always in the background but I actively lower the volume on that mental tape and focus on the here and now. I am recording my journal entries and posts (most) on my phone so I have these reminders with me at all times. I’ll join you in your one-legged highjump and jazz hands dance!

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  3. Grinning right now as I read this post. I have been writing and speaking for a while in a number of different venues, and I often have an internal debate over what parts of my reality to put out there… what can they handle, what can I handle, will they really get it, and does it matter? I’ve shared my story with countless numbers of people who have truly benefited from hearing about my journey but so many who didn’t have my best interests at heart. I know that sharing the profound message of recovery is altruistic and serves me as much as others, but I wonder sometimes if I am being vulnerable and working my heart muscle too hard.

    My favorite Unpickled Blog post was in July of 2015 entitled Nurse Jackie Finale – Review by a Person in Recovery. I even commented a couple of times because it hit me so hard. I allowed myself some space when I read your perceptions and you closed with the words “her story is a tragedy”. I didn’t cry when Jackie went down. I knew it would happen. I laid with her in my mind on that floor with the memory of desperate relief that someone finally saw the real Jackie/me.

    When I speak or write, sometimes the more effort and work I put in to the preparation and package details, the less effective the message seems to be. Even though I LOVE the Karpman Drama Triangle and can reason it, work it, describe it, utilize it all day long, it seems the simplest statements and acts are the ones that have had the most impact. Perhaps that’s because I am a healer used to sitting at the bedside. So, of all the words you’ve written and I’ve read, the ones that resonated most deeply with me (it was in that same Jackie post)… the ones that stuck with me… ones that I’ve repeated many times is, “Losing to addiction is optional”. Incredible things happen when people find out they actually have a choice and a voice.


  4. I too love the Don’t give up entry because it bravely wades through the muck that is hidden in our drinking. We all have it, and we only recover truly when we own all of it , not just our drinking. Another one that resonated for me was the one about the mean voices and “lake diving” , going over and over shoulds and if onlys and not trusting in forgiveness. I honestly don’t know if I would have put down my wine when I did if I hadn’t found this blog.

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