The Kindness, Support, & Love of Strangers

It was a hard day for me. The weight of the pandemic and the dysfunction of the holidays not being very holiday like hit me hard today. But when I shared my pain with my Twitter crew, things felt better. I am so grateful for the support I get from people around the world on that service. I know that some people find Twitter to be a cesspool, and if I look in the wrong corners I see it as well, but the group that I interact with in a daily basis is so life affirming and supportive.

And that support, well, it’s the kindness of strangers. Most of the people who I interact with, I’ll never meet in real life. And while that makes me a bit sad sometimes, it reminds me that we are all interconnected. We are hard-wired for connection and belonging — hard wired to feel empathy and love for one another. I’m grateful that these qualities are so intrinsic to our human existence and that I can be open to give and receive this love.

Why I Changed My Twitter Handle, Again

A few weeks ago I changed my username on Twitter. It had been a long time coming. When I got sober and started interacting with people on Twitter I felt that I needed an anonymous handle and in the fog of the time I simply changed my handle from @ddeville to @soberboots to go along with the name of this blog. Shortly thereafter I felt that I needed to separate my other interests into a second handle and thus began the struggle of trying to maintain two handles on Twitter. Invariably, I neglected one of them. I spent time trying to get the followers that I’d had on @ddeville to migrate to my non sobriety handle, that didn’t work so well. I spent tome trying to only post certain things on one of the two handles and invariably ended up posting something about sobriety on the wrong handle.

I told myself that I needed to maintain the other handle for professional reasons. But if you’re never posting on a handle, or if your not posting with authenticity on that handle (I.e. only posting tweets related to your job) it’s not that interesting. Still, I felt like keeping them separate made sense, because I thought that I needed anonymity.

But a lot has changed in the past few years. I’ve grown comfortable in my own skin. I’ve learned that nobody gives a shit what’s in my glass at a party or a work happy hour. They just want me to be there. And more importantly, I’ve learned not to give a shit about it. I’ve gotten comfortable with my status as a person in long term recovery. Most of my professional contacts know that I no longer drink, and the ones who don’t will find out eventually and not care. I’ve learned that I don’t have to hide. And so, the need to have a separate “business” handle seemed to be fading.

At the same time, I began to feel constrained by my @soberboots handle. I felt like I couldn’t tweet about anything that wasn’t “on message.” I felt like I might lose followers if I did. I also felt like the word “sober” was attracting more and more rehabs and mental health providers. And there’s nothing wrong with that but my life is more than my recovery.

I’ve always strived to make my recovery the center of my life while being careful not to make my life my recovery. There’s more to life than recovery. Certainly in the early days it was very important for it to take priority — and it still is a priority, but it’s not all consuming.

So, I decided that there was no good reason to maintain the separation and I changed my handle to @onetruedamien.

I’ve felt much more at ease with this. I’m not sure that it makes any sense but I feel less burdened. I feel freer to be myself on Twitter. I followed all the people I was following on my “professional” account and some of them have followed me back, others haven’t. And that’s cool. I am not concerned about who is following and who is not.

This probably sounds insane to most people, but it doesn’t to me. It’s all part of the journey.

A Simple Strategy for Disengaging from Social Media

On July 28th, I had one of those big blow out fights with a Facebook friend over politics.  It got ugly.  I got angry, really angry and ultimately removed that friend from my friends list. I also made an announcement that I’d be leaving Facebook for a while and that the best way to reach me would be by phone or Facebook Messenger — since like a lot of people there are “friends” on my list that I don’t actually have any contact information for and who don’t have my phone number.

I stewed over this event throughout the weekend.  The committee in my head told me all sorts of things about this person and all sorts of things about myself.  I was stressed out and not handling myself well.  I’d lost my serenity.  And I was still posting on Facebook. A friend in my 12-step group noticed and mentioned that he’d noticed — in a kind and loving way.

I don’t recall exactly when the conversation happened, but my wife suggested that perhaps, just maybe, I didn’t need to engage in Facebook.  Or on Instagram, or on twitter, or read the New York Times daily.  Her logic was that these things weren’t really adding value to my life.  In fact they were stressing me out and I was not that great to be around.

I committed to reducing my interactions with Facebook. Continue reading