Finding Community and Finding Myself in Cyber Space
I've never been very active in social media. Facebook has mostly been an easy way to share pictures of my kids with family and friends back home. I don’t think I’ll ever figure out Twitter, Reddit, or Instagram. But a little over four years ago, at one of the lowest points of my life, I found the support that I needed to stop binge drinking by logging into the internet and blogging every day.
There is endless encouragement on social media and television for women to relieve stress with a glass or three of wine, or a couple of shots. Drinking has become synonymous with “me time“.
You can’t log into Facebook without tripping over an ironic and delightfully funny blurb about the necessity of drinking to relieve stress. Mommy needs Vodka, Mommy Juice Wines, and OMG I so need a glass of wine or I’m gonna sell my kids, are all hugely popular facebook pages. The Happy Hour on the Today Show begins at 10:00 Monday morning and flows through the week as Kathie Lee and Hoda “celebrate“ each day with generous glasses of wine and the occasional pre-lunch vodka shot. From comedies like Cougar Town and Modern Family to dramas like The Good Wife, beautiful, fit, likeable middle aged women are everywhere selling the image of drinking alcohol as an essential part of a life well lived.
About ten years ago, when I started to worry that I was slipping over the line from enthusiastic nightly drinker, to addiction, I found support everywhere I turned to see my habitual drinking as the new norm. As I understood it alcoholism was a debilitating disease. I liked to drink like a lot of other women and like them I had everything under control.
Until I didn’t.
I never hit the proverbial rock bottom that people associate with alcoholism but I could feel myself headed in that direction.
It seems like there is support out there for every kind of drunken drama that falls short of physical abuse. “Been there... done that... we understand... everyone is human.” But there is not a lot of support for people who want to stop drinking unless they join AA.
The thing is that people need community support if they are going to break an addiction. The guilt and shame that comes from losing control creates a sense of isolation that only a supportive community can cure. We celebrate our “right” to drink with such enthusiasm that admitting we have lost control and can no longer be members of the “ cool” club has become even more difficult now than it was twenty years ago.
About four years ago, while doing a Google search of sobriety blogs, I stumbled over the Facebook page for a website called HelloSundayMorning. At first I thought it was a Christian organization for sobriety but it turned out to be a free, private, international group blog for people who wanted to cut down on or quit drinking alcohol. On March 6, 2015 I joined the HelloSundayMorning community and wrote my first short blog post. Within minutes a nurse from the UK, about my age, with a couple of grown children popped into my comment stream and said “hey you’re just like me...it’s ok...you’re gonna make it”.
I have been sober ever since. Every day I write and read the posts of men and women from around the world who may be younger or older, parents or not, but in their addiction they are “just like me”. It was hard work to break my addiction. I read every book I could find on addiction and recovery and wrote about my feeling s, frustrations and triumphs. As soon as I had my feet on dry ground I started reaching out to new members of HelloSundayMorning like the nurse from the UK had reached out to me and said “ It’s ok...you can do this ...I did.”
Blogging turned out to be so therapeutic for me that I’ve started a blog outside of HSM on a website I built that now houses it's own blogging community modeled after the one that worked so well for me. I know that there are a lot of women out there who feel just like I did a year ago. Every time they see a Facebook meme celebrating their right to drink they wonder and worry if they might be the one who can’t. They’re not sure where to turn for the support they need to stop or cut down.
I want them to know that they’re just like me. They can stop drinking. It is truly the best gift you can give yourself.
“When you quit drinking you stop waiting.”
― Caroline Knapp, Drinking: A Love Story
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