In the last month or so I’ve had a few different people accuse me of glossing over my alcoholism on social media. I’m not sure what that’s all about, exactly. I assume this doesn’t occur to most people and the angry belief that I’m not tweeting/blogging/Instagramming/whatever-ing enough about addiction comes from a place of being Weirdly Focused and/or Overly Invested. But I suppose it’s also true that I talked about it a lot for a while, and then I didn’t.

I have one of those sobriety apps on my phone, the kind that simply tells you how long it’s been since your last drink. At first I launched it all the time and stared at the counter like it held some great secret promise. I’d switch between the days and months view to see what felt longer, as if there was some sort of gaming checkpoint hidden in there. As if you don’t go all the way back to zero if you fuck up.

Today the app says I’ve been sober for 8 months and 22 days. (Or: 266 days.) The numbers seem calmer, more certain. I have no doubt that I will see twelve months on that screen, and that it will keep climbing.

What I didn’t tell you before is that I’d been backsliding for a long time. I was drinking in secret when JB traveled. It wasn’t happening frequently, but it was often enough for me to get progressively worse. I sometimes wonder if part of me engineered the humiliating public events of last June as a desperate way of throwing on the brakes — although perhaps that lends too much control to what was clearly an out-of-control situation.

The first few weeks were as raw and terrible as anything I’ve ever gone through. For days on end I ate sandwiches made from Wonder bread, yellow mustard, and bologna, in some strange attempt to be gentle with myself. (It was like eating something from a half-remembered childhood memory — the wadded-up dough that sticks to the roof of your mouth, the bland hotdog taste of the bologna — and I’ve never wanted it before or since.) I slept too much, I cried too easily, I was convinced I was utterly worthless and my family would be better off without me. I twitched in shame and my heart pounded with anxiety. I was utterly revolted by the person I saw in the mirror.

And slowly it got better. I stopped passively suffering and I started working on healing. Little by little, that suffocating miasma of self-loathing began clearing away. The days added up.

I don’t go to meetings these days, but I still see a counselor. We mostly talk about inconsequential things to start with, then meander around until we get to a subject that feels like it’s tugging on something, and we delve into that. I think of our appointments as my regularly-scheduled emotional spring cleaning. Lifting up rugs and exposing the detritus I’ve swept out of sight.

I belong to a private Facebook group for alcoholics, and while I don’t post there very often, I read it every day. Over and over, I read about people relapsing. For a while I wondered how healthy that might be, whether it created a discouraging outlook that backsliding was somehow inevitable, but I’ve come to believe these stories serve as an important reminder for me. They are, in maybe a morbid sort of way, an ongoing exercise in gratitude.

Last but not least, I’m committed to a fitness routine. I know without a shadow of a doubt that exercise has a direct impact on my mental health. It is, I think, the most critical part of my recovery.

My name’s Linda, and I’m an alcoholic. I will never stop being ashamed of the terrible choices I’ve made. But I’m facing forward now. I’m doing things differently than I did before, and my outlook is stronger. I am hopeful about my future. I’m a thousand times healthier than I was 266 days ago. I fully own what led me to that point, and I’m incredibly grateful not to be there any more.

I feel good, these days. Really good. And I’m glad you’ve been here when I’ve needed to talk. It’s helped me more than you could know.

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Amy
Amy
8 years ago

Congratulations, Linda! Thanks for sharing.

kathleenicanrah
kathleenicanrah
8 years ago

you don’t owe any of us anything, or specifically owe us your words on this area of your life, but we are lucky to have them. thanks for sharing this.

Stephanie
Stephanie
8 years ago

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: thank you, so very much, for sharing this journey. Someone I love fiercely is an actively drinking alcoholic, and your stories and insight have helped me develop some much-needed empathy while also detaching from the choices he is making that have absolutely nothing to do with me. It’s a brutal path, and you have helped me understand that it must be even more brutal for him. Well done, Linda.

Melissa
8 years ago

Thanks for sharing. I’m rooting for you.

JudithNYC
JudithNYC
8 years ago

What do people want? If readers are in any way familiar with alcoholism they know what a struggle it is. And anyway, everyone’s path is different. Sometimes we need to share and sometimes we need to hold it all close in order to deal.

I am bipolar and not ashamed, although many times I cringe when I remember the awful mistakes I have made. Sometimes I share freely but when I am feeling fragile I tend to go quiet because I need all my energy to hold myself together and not go on the deep end. Can’t imagine how weird it must be to have people telling me I need to share more.

Most of us that follow you admire you a great deal but you do not owe us to bare yourself “nekked”. Do what feels right for you and your three guys.

JudithNYC
JudithNYC
8 years ago

Oops, that’s OFF the deep end. English is my second language and prepositions are my nemesis

Sandy
Sandy
8 years ago

Like you ,exercise is a critical part of my sobriety and mental health. I am rooting for you Linda and am very inspired by your journey!

Erin@MommyontheSpot
8 years ago

Congratulations! You should be so proud. Thank you for sharing your story!

Barb.
Barb.
8 years ago

You are immensely brave to talk about something so personal and painful, and I’ll always admire you for it. And I understand both the need to talk about it and the need to focus on the both more-joyful and more-mundane moments of life. Those little moments are far more important, anyway. Life isn’t always about the big gestures and grandiose statements.

Sara
Sara
8 years ago

Thanks for sharing Linda. And it is your journey to share as you choose. You are quite brave!

Jennifer
Jennifer
8 years ago

Thank you very much for sharing something so personal and private. I admire you.

@ShannonSheh
@ShannonSheh
8 years ago

I can’t remember if I shared this with you before but my sister was mired in addiction for years. She committed suicide in May 2012, leaving behind three young kids (now 11, 10 and 8; they had been with me and my husband for years prior to her death). I say that not to be all PAY ATTENTION, WARNING, ALERT, ADDICTION IS BAD, DURR but instead to say fuck anyone right in the eye who is super invested in your recovery. You are doing an amazing job, you’re still standing, you’re being incredibly honest and raw about your experiences but again most importantly you’re doing you and being the best you can be for you, your life, your family. I know I am an internet stranger so this may not mean much but I am so, so proud of you. Maybe that’s too invested, too, I don’t really know but I just want to convey to you that it makes my chest heavy and my eyes watery knowing you are working so hard to get up a very steep hill. Ah too much rambling now but keep it up, you’re doing great and I admire the shit out of you.

Alice
Alice
8 years ago

I’m so proud of you, Linda.

Mary
Mary
8 years ago

Thanks for being willing to share your story!

AnEmilyB
AnEmilyB
8 years ago

I am happy and proud for you. Thank you for sharing such a difficult experience.

Debra
8 years ago

Thanks for sharing and thanks for being you.

Penne
Penne
8 years ago

Your job is to take care of you and your family, not to entertain us or teach the world how to cope/survive/succeed/etc. You owe us nothing and it’s a treat that you share your brilliantly crafted words with us whether it’s about an addiction, a sofa or a family vacation. At the end of the day, it’s your choice what you share and if people don’t like that, it is certainly not your concern. Keep it up. I admire the hell out of you for your courage and your talent. We’re all rooting for you.

jan
jan
8 years ago

I think you are amazing. Thanks for sharing, it really truly means so much!

NancyB
NancyB
8 years ago

I appreciate that you shared that with us. I think you are an amazing person, a great mother from what I witness through your blog.
I hope you never feel like you “have to” tell us something because you feel pressured but we are always hear for you.

Kristen
Kristen
8 years ago

You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Andrea
8 years ago

<3

sooboo
sooboo
8 years ago

You are an inspiration to more people than you can know. Your struggle has definitely made me think about where I’m being honest and where I’m not, in different arenas in my life. As others have said, reading your writing is a privilege. No one has a right to demand deeper knowledge of your private life. That’s more about them than you, but it sounds like you know all that! You’re the jam!

Cindy
Cindy
8 years ago

Your honesty and willingness to be so open is very admirable. Screw anyone who flips you shit about it. Keep kicking ass!

Jen
Jen
8 years ago

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Lauren
Lauren
8 years ago

Congratulations, and thank you for sharing! Continuing to root for you!

Kelly
Kelly
8 years ago

Slow clap, Linda. You don’t owe any of us any part of your story, but thank you for sharing your vulnerability and your steps to a healthier you. I have heard nothing that makes me feel more interested in therapy than this: “I think of our appointments as my regularly-scheduled emotional spring cleaning. Lifting up rugs and exposing the detritus I’ve swept out of sight.” That’s a nudge I’ve needed.

Emily
Emily
8 years ago

Oh, people are idiots. You don’t owe anyone anything. Just be true to yourself.

Koa
Koa
8 years ago

I think women sometimes say the “it’s only” too much, like, oh, I’ve “only” lost 20 lbs. Or I “only” got a small promotion. Or I “only” stayed sober and focused on my path for 266 fucking days. Bravo to you, and bravo to everyone who sticks with anything for “even” or “only” one day. If it doesn’t stick, then you pick it back up and go again. Burpees, kale juice, coconut flour muffins, sobriety. I can only imagine the service you’ve done for countless people by writing about this at all, once. That you keep sharing is a beautiful gift. Love it.

jody
8 years ago

Proud of you! Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work!!

Mary
8 years ago

I am so happy for you. As a fellow traveler, I think it helps me to read about the relapses, as well as the success stories. Even more than three years out, I don’t ever want to get too cocky, or take it for granted. I’m far enough out now that I might forget what it did to me if I don’t hear about the relapses. For so many years, that was me.

Courtney
Courtney
8 years ago

And tomorrow will be 267!

Congratulations, Linda. I’m so very very proud of you.

Claire
Claire
8 years ago

Rooting for you!

Scott
8 years ago
Marna
8 years ago

Linda- from one addict to another – your recovery and your program is yours. You owe no one else any explanation. Your job is to work your program and to keep your side of the street clean – that’s it.

Congrats on your sobriety

I mean it.

Marna
30 years 1 month and 6 days.

AlisonC
AlisonC
8 years ago

Keep up the good work!

I think some people forget that at the other side of a blog is a real person and not a soap opera! We want to hear more about the person’s life forgetting that we are not just watching on but that someone is actually living it.

Barbara
Barbara
8 years ago

Read this the other day and passed it on to my dear friend who is battling addiction to meth:

“Don’t let your wounds make you to become someone you’re not.”

You Go Girl! You are such an inspiration!

Jean
Jean
8 years ago

I also admire you…..your strength and honesty…

H
H
8 years ago

As others have said, you do what you need to do. Your path is your path. Thank you for sharing. You deserve to be proud! Congrats!

Tracy
Tracy
8 years ago

<3

Maggie
Maggie
8 years ago

Congrats to you, Linda. It is your right to talk about it or not talk about it. I appreciate you sharing here and it takes an immense amount of courage to put it out there, but when and if you decide never to speak of alcohol, alcoholism, addiction, etc. again, that will be your choice and no one should say shit about it.

april
8 years ago

You owe us nothing, but also I don’t understand this “glossing over”. You are an alcoholic, and it colors your life but it is not all your life is. You deserve to be happy and healthy and to have focus beyond drinking or not drinking. Congratulations on every day.

Deanna
Deanna
8 years ago

I just wish I could give you a big hug. (and that it would not freak you out and/or you would think i was a stalker. or beat me up with your new skillz. *smile*) You are amazing.

Hillary
8 years ago

Congratulations on your 266 days and on getting to a point where you’re feeling good.

It seems awfully presumptuous of these other people to think they have any say in what you write about and when. I hope you don’t let them bother you.

Jess
8 years ago

Linda, you are the most honest and real person I know on the internet. I am so amazed and proud of you for sharing all of this with us. I can only imagine what it is like to go through this and you have been incredibly honest and open. I am so happy for you- I can hear it in your voice. Congrats on 266!

Shawna
Shawna
8 years ago

Who the heck ARE these people accusing you of not sharing enough about your struggle publicly? “Glossing over”? Seriously?

I can’t imagine why anyone would think it’s appropriate to exert public pressure on a stranger to share more than they want to! Ridiculous!

Kelli
Kelli
8 years ago

Having never met you in person, I still feel like I know you – and as odd as it may sound, I treasure our friendship.

You’ve got a lot of people in your corner, Linda. Keep fighting the good fight.
We believe in you.

Jessica
Jessica
8 years ago

You are amazing. Your boys – all 3 of them – are so lucky to have you.

Mary McNally
Mary McNally
8 years ago

I stumbled across this post in my search for all and sundry. You are brave to share your journey so honestly and humbly. My husband died at 51 from alcoholism as a secondary cause. I had no real personal experience with alcoholism (not in my immediate family background) until I married him. Continue with your self-healing. You are so deserving of it–and your family will be grateful for it.

Mallory
Mallory
8 years ago

Thanks for being you! Please write a book.

GingerB
8 years ago

I am also an addict, my demon pain pills. I have almost a year, and I am super proud of your 266 days. 267, … Keep going, lady. I am tired of people wanting to make my life all about my recovery. Yes, it is important, but so are the things that led me to self medicate so desperately, and when those are the things I need to work on so I don’t relapse then that is what I work on first, and other people’s points of view be damned. I think you are lovely, flaws and all.

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