Coming out publicly about my sobriety has changed my life. I wish I could tell you that I’d planned it out, that I gave it careful consideration, that I’d done it with a complete understanding of what I was getting into, but I can’t. That would be a lie.
I maintained another blog for several years that had almost no focus (surprise, I was a complete mess drinking all the time…) and one day, I just posted that I’d been sober and going to meetings as a way to get the word out to my friends. Over the next few weeks I posted a few more times and thought a lot about whether to keep these posts as part of the old blog or to start a new one. When I had the clarity that I had a lot to say about my journey, and that my journey would be life long, I knew it was time to split out these posts and start this blog.
In doing so I’ve made myself accountable. Most of my good friends, people in my local fellowship, as well as thousands of people around the world have read my posts, many with regularity. By writing about my journey, I’ve let the cat out of the bag and sometimes that’s what’s kept me from taking a drink.
There is also something highly cathartic about writing — I think that’s part of what many find so incredible about the fourth step. When we put our thoughts down on paper (or in bits and bytes as we do today) they stare back at us in black and white. We can’t escape them.
There have been times when I was a little freaked out about being so public about my sobriety. Last spring, while I was talking to my new company I was waiting for the shoe to drop that someone had found my blog. I don’t know what I expected to happen, but I feared that this might hinder my chances at a new job.
There have also been times when I’ve worried that my openness may impact my family— more specifically my son. I’ve coached his soccer team, and I’m about to step up to be a Den Leader for his Webelos den. I have worried that people will judge him because of me. Still, I share my story.
See, if people do judge me, I don’t know about it — and more importantly, I’ve received nothing but positive encouragement from people who know that I’ve made a decision to be sober. I think that this represents a turning point in people’s attitudes about recovery. There was a time when being in recovery may have meant a moral failing in the eyes of some people, but I think that the majority of people don’t see it that way anymore. I may be naive, but my experience hasn’t shown me the judgement that I once feared.
If anything, my openness has helped others. I’ve had several friends and acquaintances who’ve asked me about my sobriety. Several have decided that perhaps they might give this a go. Some who have explored it have remained sober, and others have not. I don’t judge anyone who has chosen not to remain sober after talking to me — I recognize that we all have our own path. What’s important to me is that they know that they can talk with me — that they can ask me questions and that I am in a place where I can offer my perspective.
That’s why it’s important for those of us in recovery to tell our stories. If nobody knows that we’re sober, they won’t know who to ask for help.