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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Deb
Deb
8 years ago

What everyone else said.
You’re doing great.

Non-Anon
8 years ago

Oh my God, I was in tears at the bologna sandwich reference! I know it probably wasn’t meant to be funny, but I, too, ate the weirdest shit when I was first attempting sobriety. It was my way of being kind to myself, and by God, turkey bacon sandwiches were ALL I WANTED.

I just stopped in to say that I had emailed you years ago re: AA when you were writing about your recovery. Your kind words and honest evaluation of what you were going through gave me the strength to look at my own life and choices. It wasn’t instant, and I’ve slipped and stumbled along the way, but thanks in part to you, I am now sober.

You don’t owe us anything. Recovery is personal and hard, and I will never have the openness to share mine with the world as you do. But, just so you know, your sharing helped another addict get her life back.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. (And keep up the good work!)

sal
sal
8 years ago

Your writing is stunning. Thank you for sharing…wishing you continued happiness, strength, and health.

Jessi
8 years ago

I wish you all the best. Thank you for sharing something so personal.

danish
danish
8 years ago

Longtime reader pulling for you, so hard.

I am always surprised at the bullshit you have to put up with from some readers/commenters/followers.

Christy
Christy
8 years ago

Good for you, Linda. Always rooting for you.

willikat
8 years ago

Wow… I shouldn’t be, but am still continued to be, amazed at how rude people can be on the internet. You owe none of us anything at all. And it’s not dishonest to keep parts of your life private.
But thank you for all your honesty and great story-telling. Sharing the way you do is why people love you.
Count me in as another fan who is pulling for day 267, 268, and so on…

Ashley
Ashley
8 years ago

267 days. You go, girl. Rooting for you. Thanks for sharing.

Allison
8 years ago

I can’t believe the gall of people. I’m rooting for you, and happy for you, and so glad you share the bits of your life that you do. You inspire me in many ways. Thanks for letting us behind the curtain a bit. :)

David
David
8 years ago

Thank you for sharing Linda. Today is my 31st day. Not much to brag about to others but alot for me and I’m doing it for me and not others. I go to meetings every night (except Saturday’s) and I find them helpful. I’m taking my 30 day chip this Friday as I enjoy that group the most and want to share with them. Congrats to you. Hopefully I will post on my 266th day.

Kari
Kari
8 years ago

My husband is in recovery (almost 5 years), and I have learned so much about him, addiction, and myself through his experience.

He goes to meetings a couple of times a week. He is the very last person who says that AA is the only way – but the very first to say that AA is the only thing that worked for him.

Last night, we got in the subject of meetings and he explained to me that meetings don’t keep him sober, but that meetings are the best place he knows to be of service. That being of service to others who are struggling with addiction is one of the two things that keep him sober. The other is working the steps, which sounds a lot to me like emotional spring cleaning.

I think your writing about this very personal and intense topic is being of service, and in a very powerful and meaningful way. And I am very grateful and awed by that kind of service.

Maureen
Maureen
8 years ago

I truly don’t understand some people. Where do they get off criticizing you for not sharing what is an intensely personal thing? Jesus. I am actually amazed at how much you are willing to talk about, I think it is an incredibly courageous thing to put out there. I know it must help other people, with the same problem-to know they are not alone. It must give them hope.

June
8 years ago

Keep going, Linda! Sorry that some people are asshats.

Rachel
Rachel
8 years ago

Post about it, don’t post about it – whatever feels healthiest to you. I appreciate when you choose to share, because I have no doubt that you have readers who benefit, and I am glad to cheer your successes, but it is not your responsibility to share. Your remission is more important than your readers’ curiosity.

Congratulations on 266 days.

ememby
8 years ago

Sorry that people are intended and unintended assholes. But so glad you have the perspective you have. There is no recipe for success or failure – it is your life, thanks for sharing the part that you do and as much as you do. And above all, congrats on 266. Way to go!

Cara
Cara
8 years ago

Jesus. There may be people in your life to whom you owe conversations, honesty, etc. Strangers on the internet are not among them. My guess is that those people are angry with themselves or with someone in their life who is struggling with or succumbing to addiction. They think you’re not being honest (or forthcoming enough, I suppose) because they are looking at you to validate their feelings or experiences. They are not your responsibility.

Also, I am trying to think of something difficult I have done for 266 days in a row. I can’t come up with one. So, celebrate it, claim it and here’s to 267!

Kris
8 years ago

Truth? I respect your honesty about your addiction. It’s a shitty, miserable, soul-sucking disease; and anyone who accuses you of “glossing it over” can go fuck themselves with a red hot cattle prod. They are the same kind of people who “just can’t understand” why someone like Philip Seymour Hoffman didn’t just stop using heroin. Idiots. Every last one of ’em.

At the end of the day, this is YOUR blog with YOUR thoughts and YOUR stories. You don’t “owe” anyone any explanation or rationalization. Write what’s in your heart. If it’s about your boys, awesome. If it’s about the books you’re reading, great. And if it’s about your addiction, we’ll read it and be proud of you and love you all the more.

(Wooftie. This came across a little bitchy and I really don’t mean for it to. But I’ve had it with the douchebaggery of the internet over the last few days.)

Kris
8 years ago

Also, to David at 11:26 am:

31 days is amazing; and although I’m a virtual stranger, I’m proud of you for staying strong and taking care of yourself. You can do this.

Donna
Donna
8 years ago

Linda: I haven’t read the rest of the comments yet but I hope they’re a version of mine — I’m just appalled that someone has the nerve to take you to task for not talking more about addiction. YOU OWE US NOTHING. You were and are amazingly open and honest about your alcoholism – for those of us who have read you for years, it feels like you have honored us by sharing this part of your life. But if you hadn’t, it was your choice. We all have secret parts of our lives. Nowhere is it written that we have to bare all, ESPECIALLY to the Internet. Reveal what you like, and carry on being strong.

Kate
Kate
8 years ago

When you share, we should be both honored and humbled for that gift. But you owe us nothing and need to decide when and what you want to share. Be well.

D
D
8 years ago

My husband is at 7.5months of sobriety. It has been both hard and rewarding for him. He doesn’t talk about it much. Yet.

Quite frankly it’s none of my business until he is ready to share about AA, Rehab and the things he has learned along the way.

Congrats you.

April
April
8 years ago

You don’t owe us anything, but thank you for your honesty. It’s a cliche to say you’re brave and strong, but it’s also true.

Congratulations on making it this far, and I hope those numbers on your app keep ticking higher and higher.

Kristin
Kristin
8 years ago

I don’t think you glossed it over. And I don’t think it really matters what any of us think, anyways. It’s your story and your blog. You can tell it in the way that feels best to you. But for the record, I’m still rooting for you–even though I don’t know you!

Kristin
Kristin
8 years ago

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing. You are so incredibly BRAVE.

p.s. Fuck anyone who says you haven’t shared enough. You give them an inch and they want a mile. That’s their problem. Don’t even give ’em another thought and keep doing what you’re doing.

Laura Broder
Laura Broder
8 years ago

Thank you for sharing. It’s progress, not perfection, and I read a lot of progress in this post.

Trish
Trish
8 years ago

And this post is why I keep coming back and reading….checking your site every day though I get the emails telling me when you’ve posted. Your honesty is refreshing and vulnerable and that’s what is attractive. I always learn something from you and something from your readers. Today, Stephanie’s comment hit home because I too love an alcoholic and while I thought I was empathetic I’ve never ONCE thought of HIS monster he has to deal with all.the.time. I always think of the monster that is created by the drinking.

Jillian
Jillian
8 years ago

Congratulations.

telegirl
telegirl
8 years ago

I so agree with everyone. You owe us nothing. I would read your blog if you were talking about how paint peels from a wall, because I’m sure it would be hilarious and/or insightful. I think the problem is that with all the reality TV, blogs, etc. people just want to hear about the drama. I think it makes them feel better about themselves because they can see they aren’t the only ones messed up. Screw them. We’re all messed up in one way or another but not all of us insist on focusing on the negative. I enjoy every part of your blog and admire so much about you, not the least is how honest you are. You are admired. Only post what you feel like posting.

LizScott
8 years ago

Well, you certainly don’t owe me any explanations or even discussion, but I like your writing and I like you, so I’m always glad to hear how things are going. And even gladder that they’re going well.

julia
julia
8 years ago

Congratulations on 266. I am rooting for you, so hard. It is great to see that you’re doing well. Keep going.

Dawn
8 years ago

Isn’t the point of recovery to live all those other parts of your life more fully? You are, in so many ways, doing it right. Like every other commenter above, I really appreciate the many things you do choose to share.

Laurie
8 years ago

You got sober a few days before I did (249 here, had to check my own app to see) and I scrolled through your Twitter feed because I saw Kalisa talking to you about it, and everything felt so crazy and unbearable then here that you were another light on the internet whom I imagined might be going through something similar. Except I ate cupcakes, a lot of them, and slept a lot.

The view from here is so much better. I am a chronic internet oversharer, and I haven’t been that way with this. It’s different than anything I’ve ever gone through, impossible to describe and yet often all I want to talk about at the same time. No one who hasn’t gone through it (assuming the person who complained wasn’t an addict, who knows, really) can really get that, I don’t think. If I hadn’t have made this choice over dying myself, I’d never have known how trippy and great and weird and heavy and freeing it is, by turns.

I get what you say about relapse. Early on, a woman I respect in recovery looked me in the eye and said that didn’t have to be my story. I appreciated that. But it’s the cautionary tale I hear entirely too often, and I hope I never forget how close I am to the first drink that could tear everything good I’ve got going for me today apart. My very best to you. You sound great.

Jenn@MommyNeedsCoffee
8 years ago

I’m proud of you. Keep up the good (and sometimes hard) work one day at a time. Thank you for sharing your 266 days. Believe me when I say it truly is the friends who are earlier in sobriety that help keep *me* clean and sober. I just hit my 14 years. Together makes a difference. You’ve got a friend if you ever need one!

Jon
Jon
8 years ago

Ain’t it grand that the wind stopped blowin’?

Lucy
Lucy
8 years ago

I do love you Linda! You are an incredible lady. Thank you so much for your honesty. We are behind you every step of the way.

Lola
8 years ago

Oh man I love you so much. I don’t suffer from alcoholism, but from depression….and its the same sort of desparate feeling…the wondering of how many days can I go without crying and wanting to see some sort of progress. Some days easier and some days stronger. Thank you for putting your struggles in words. I know its difficult, especially when you have those saying negative things, just know it helps some of us who get to remember we aren’t alone. And if you can get better, so can I.

Suebob
8 years ago

I quit drinking…let’s see…346 days ago. I did it with the idea that I’d get a better life, and that I was leaving myself the option to go back and start again. Every time I think about having a glass of wine, something happens – either someone I know quits and inspires me all over again, or someone who is drinking has something horrible happen.

This week, my BFF’s SIL died. She was a lifelong drunk who left a trail of wreckage. Her malnourished body shut down so badly that her skin began coming off in sheets. She inspired me too, but in a different way. I’m glad to wake up every day and not need a drink. Sometimes I want a drink, but I never need one.

Keep adding up those days. You’re worth every single one.

Suebob
8 years ago

I quit drinking…let’s see…346 days ago. I did it with the idea that I’d get a better life, and that I was leaving myself the option to go back and start again. Every time I think about having a glass of wine, something happens – either someone I know quits and inspires me all over again, or someone who is drinking has something horrible happen.

This week, my BFF’s SIL died. She was a lifelong drunk who left a trail of wreckage. Her malnourished body shut down so badly that her skin began coming off in sheets. She inspired me too, but in a different way. I’m glad to wake up every day and not need a drink. Sometimes I want a drink, but I never need one.

Keep adding up those days. You’re worth every single one.

MassHole
MassHole
8 years ago

We need you more than you know.

Ashley
8 years ago

Congratulations, friend. You truly are inspiring :)

Pat
Pat
8 years ago

Linda I hope you have read every one of these supportive comments. I think it’s amazing what you are doing and you don’t owe us any more info than you want to share. The father of my 3 boys is an alcoholic that never got his life in order and lost his 3 children — I cannot imagine choosing alcohol over your children! he’s been gone almost 20 years now, popped back in a few times before going off the rails again. He missed his babies growing up, and now is losing out on the wonderful, kind smart generous young men they have become. Congratulations to you for choosing the conquer this and being there as a wife and mother for your beautiful family. You are the winner here; but I know it’s not easy. xo

Angella
8 years ago

I love you, friend. I’m proud of your openness. And I also will dick punch anyone who tells you that you’re “glossing over” your walk. But you know that. xoxo

Mary Clare
Mary Clare
8 years ago

Woot! Your hard work is paying off. Congrats on getting to where you are. Thanks for writing about your struggles.

Lisa S.
8 years ago

Gosh, Linda, how DARE you choose to express yourself in a public in a way that reflects your own judgment and life circumstances! Why aren’t you following the recovery narratives other people think you should write? Dance, recovering monkey, dance!

(You don’t owe the world stories or explanations. We’re lucky to have you.)

Victoria
8 years ago

I don’t know what to say that doesn’t sound cheesy or overt religious, but Amen. And blessings. And hugs.

Erin
8 years ago

I am so thankful that you have shared this – as the child of an alcoholic (who I *think* has been sober for about 4 years now after a stint in a rehab facility) it is so helpful for me to hear about your experience. My dad isn’t a big talker so I don’t know much about what he has gone through. So, thank you.

anonymous
anonymous
8 years ago

this is giving me such incredibly useful insight to what my husband is struggling with in his battle with alcohol. you are a gift..thank you (and CONGRATS)

Leah, agirlandaboy (@agirlandaboy)

Much love to you, and thank you (always) for sharing yourself here.

Joanne
Joanne
8 years ago

Hang in there. You’re great!

Willa
Willa
8 years ago

Man, people can be lame. It has been a great privilege to read about your personal struggles and triumphs with addiction. I’m sure you have helped so many people similarly struggling and those who have not experienced addiction by shedding light on the fact that abuse and relapse happen to real people worthy of love (aka ANYONE/EVERYONE!), and can be followed by recovery and sobriety. As you say, addiction will always be a part of your life but you are not defined solely by your struggles or failures, on your blog or in life.