Online Recovery Revolution, Kiwi Style

By Mrs. D 08/12/14

Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people reached out to me. And overwhelmingly the message was "I’m just like you."

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There’s a mini revolution going on in New Zealand. From where I sit it feels like the Internet has exploded! Hundreds and hundreds of kiwis are flocking online with one purpose and one purpose only – to get sober.

It all kicked off when a memoir I wrote got released last month. The book describes my drinking problem (high-functioning housewife, seemingly fine on the outside but in reality miserably addicted to wine), charts my route to sobriety (a solo mission with blogging my only support), and reveals the incredible community of support that I discovered online.

The book carries the same name as my blog – Mrs D Is Going Without.

My main objective in writing the book was to let people know how powerful and amazing online recovery is. That you can reach out anonymously from the comfort of your own home and connect with others around the world striving for the same goal – to live happily being alcohol free. Because getting sober requires two seemingly contradictory things, you have to do it yourself but you can’t do it alone.

I knew who I wanted to write the book for. I formed a picture in my mind of a shadowy figure, a housewife like me with her arms wrapped protectively around herself, feeling helpless and miserable and alone. Someone stuck in a boozy nightmare like I’d been. I’d hear her whisper to me "don’t stop, don’t stop." It sounds cheesy but this imaginary person kept me going through the entire writing process. I wrote the book for her and thought if even if she alone entered into online recovery and freed herself from the clutches of booze after reading my book then I’d be glad.

I even wrote in the book’s introduction: “If one person stuck in a boozy nightmare instigates their own amazing transformation because of what I’m sharing, I’ll be a very happy camper.”

My publishers worked hard to generate publicity for me when the book came out. I went on the TV and cried reliving my last drinking days (couldn’t help myself, it’s a painful memory). I had my photo taken for magazines and newspapers. I did numerous radio interviews. It was an intense period, I didn’t sleep great for a few weeks. I was nervous but also wanted to talk about how wonderful it feels being sober. I don’t have any shame about revealing my drinking problem. Alcohol is addictive, everyone knows that, and I don’t think getting addicted to something that is addictive makes me weak or a bad person.

And I think it’s important to share about how amazing recovery is. Recovery Is Awesome! I’d shout it from the rooftops if I could. Luckily TV cameras, reporters notebooks and radio microphones meant I didn’t have to.

And shitballs.... the response. The night my crying face was revealed in full-screen glory on our highest rating TV programme (Sunday night current affairs) I had 30,000 hits on my blog.

THIRTY THOUSAND HITS IN ONE NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!

And I could see in my stats – all the hits were coming from New Zealand. The mini-revolution was on.

I was inundated with emails. Comments galore arrived on my blog. My Facebook page jumped from 11 to 2,000 likes in just several days. Messages flooded in on Twitter and via text message. The torrent of feedback was unbelievable. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people reached out to me. And overwhelmingly the message was "I’m just like you."

I’m actually getting shivers writing this right now. My one shadowy figure – my imaginary person that I wanted to help – she was real. And she wasn’t alone.

We live in a country where alcohol is sold in the supermarkets next to the bread and milk. It’s treated like a harmless commodity and not like an addictive drug with a dark, destructive side. The government isn’t taking any action to change this approach, but quietly online hundreds of kiwis are rebelling.

We are taking that shitty alcohol out of our lives, we are gritting our teeth through the rough early adjustment phases, we are retraining our brains to see alcohol for the shit it is (and not the golden ticket to fun) and we are becoming fully alive, fully emotional, fully realized human beings.

Raw. Real. Recovered.

My Facebook page keeps growing. My blog stats are still through the roof. And we've now just launched a new online forum called Living Sober (www.livingsober.org.nz) which has nearly 1,000 registered members in just a couple of weeks. They're all busy in there trying hard to turn their lives around and get sober. They’re boosting each other along, sharing tips and advice, being kind and non-judgmental - so grateful that finally there is an outlet to address what has previously been an unspoken problem. It’s heart-burstingly awesome.

Consider me a very happy camper indeed.

Mrs. D is a sober mum and wife who lives in New Zealand. She blogs at www.livingwithoutalcohol.blogspot.com and her memoir "Mrs D Is Going Without" was published by Allen & Unwin in July.

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