Recently I celebrated my 12th soberversary.

photo of UnPickled author Jean McCarthy wearing a pink shirt, seated next to a bookcase displaying a selection of her books and awards
Jean McCarthy celebrates 12 years of sobriety

12 years. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed from that first shaky day of sobriety in 2011 when I turned to the internet anonymously for accountability.

I managed to bumble through the WordPress setup process despite limited knowledge of what a blog was or how such platforms worked. I just kept filling in the blanks and pushing enter.

Blog name? UnPickled popped into my head, and I laughed.

What a perfect word to describe the endeavor. It had to be taken, though. Someone must have already thought of it.

A quick web search showed that unpickled is a code-related term used by computer programmers and game developers. However, no one was using the name as a brand, title, or pseudo-identity – recovery or otherwise.

Lucky me! I nabbed it.

As I typed UnPickled into the title field, I could not have imagined that I’d still be writing here years later. I certainly could not have predicted that I’d eventually reveal my identity and even feel PROUD of being in recovery.

A lot has happened in those 12 years. Teenagers became adults with spouses, homes, and careers. Grandchildren arrived (three so far!). We visited Italy. Hiked 100km through the English countryside. We bought a camper van and explored Canada. I became a podcast host and wrote numerous books.

I got through unthinkable difficulties without drinking, too. My husband and I both lost our dads within the same year. I broke my leg. Had gallbladder troubles. Our beloved little dog was attacked and killed. My husband and I closed our business and (sort of) retired, leaving me with a minor identity crisis.

I wrote about all of it here on UnPickled, as this anonymous blog became increasingly not-so-anonymous.

My life is not perfect, and living alcohol-free is not always easy. I talk about some of the bumpy parts in this interview on the Hello Someday podcast with Casey Davidson.

I snapped the photo for this post at my desk as I wrote this today. I want you to see what recovery looks like. I’m 55 and this photo is unfiltered. I think being alcohol-free is a huge boost to my health and one of the best-kept beauty secrets around. The best part, though, is something a little less tangible. It’s in the eyes. A little more sparkle and presence. Less fear, shame, and regret.

I’m gentler with myself, and it shows.

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PS – Have you listened to the final season of The Bubble Hour yet? It’s a trip down memory lane, tracing the history of the show and highlighting a decade of recovery podcasting. Click HERE for all the Season 10 episodes and listen now. You can also support the show via Patreon by clicking here.

PPS – Do you prefer shorter podcast episodes? You’ll love Tiny Bubbles, my new podcast featuring clips from The Bubble Hour archives plus insights on the latest recovery news and insights.

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