I participate in a daily challenge designed to foster growth in my small business. Today we acknowledged how thankful we were for the many opportunities afforded to us by our decision to join the It Works Family. So I shared something deeply personal with the private group. Never intending to post it anywhere else, much less from my actual profile, I considered it the status I would write if I had the cajones to do so. But I didn’t….so this was a safe place to test the waters. Emboldened by the positive feedback and encouraged by our leader I took a deep breath and updated my status:
“My occupation involves two jobs: being a distributor and also a freelance writer. The former relies on my talent and the latter my enthusiasm. Both require dedication and hard work. No words of mine can ever express my gratitude because these jobs LITERALLY KEEP ME ALIVE. I know that sounds dramatic but it’s the truth. You see, I am a recovering addict and alcoholic. My sobriety comes before anything else– even my kids– because without it I am dead. I am so blessed that I am able to have a career where I have flexibility of my schedule. I am so blessed to be able to have an income without the triggers of a ‘traditional’ job. If I have a rough day where I need three meetings and a two hour phone call with my sponsor, I can do that.”
Did that just happen? I sat there in a state of shock, literally feeling like I was going to vomit, shaking like a leaf with a massive knot in my stomach. But then the ‘likes’ started rolling in and I knew without a shadow of a doubt I’d made the right decision. While I certainly don’t require or expect validation from the Facebook community in this instance the support means more to me than you’ll ever know.
The struggles of my past hardly come as a shock to anyone. Perhaps they didn’t know the extent of it or the involvement of specific substance[s]…but they knew something was amiss. And if they didn’t it’s because I went through great lengths to hide it. Blaming erratic behavior on something else [such as my anxiety or depression] I tried valiantly to maintain an illusion of ‘normalcy’ and control when I had neither.
Actions speak louder than words. I didn’t feel the need to declare my decision to abstain from all alcohol and drugs. Instead I wanted to quietly exude the happiness, serenity, confidence, and gratitude that comes from discovering a new way of life. I don’t have to shout it from the rooftops that I go to meetings or work steps. But it’s hard not to let that light shine through in everything I do because I’m so happy and have finally found peace.
Most of all I wanted to own my truth. Remaining silent about something I admit aloud on a daily basis implies that I am ashamed or feel it’s something that should stay hidden– I’m not and it isn’t. My name is Sloane and I’m an alcoholic and addict. It’s a part of who I am but it doesn’t define me.
I’ve wanted to address the elephant in the room for quite sometime. Yet I’ve held off for a variety of reasons, most of them involving possible negative consequences. I feared judgement from others. What if a prospective employer saw this blog and decided not to hire me? Would I embarrass my family if I openly discussed things most people dealt with behind closed doors?
Then I realized how imperative it was to stop projecting. How could I anticipate what was going to happen when it hadn’t happened yet? And besides, what other people think of me is none of my business. 😉
Anyone who truly has my best interests at heart should be thrilled that I’ve finally gotten my life back on track. The fact that I struggled with substance abuse is in no way indicative of the parenting I received, the adult examples in my life, or any traumatic experiences. So why should anybody be humiliated? I’m a sick person who admitted she had a problem and took steps to correct it. That’s commendable, not shameful.
I feel liberated. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I can finally just breathe. The truth shall set you free.
“….Not to mention that the whole infrastructure of abstinence-based recovery is shrouded in necessary secrecy. There are support fellowships that are easy to find and open to anyone who needs them, but they eschew promotion of any kind in order to preserve the purity of their purpose, which is for people with alcoholism and addiction to help one another stay clean and sober.” ~ Russell Brand
I’m involved with one of those Anonymous Fellowships. Lots of them exist. Finding my ‘home group’ was a game changer for me. Yet even though I have no qualms installing a tracking device in my arm and broadcasting my recovery GPS coordinates on the internet, it is essential to respect anonymity.
Ostensibly this confidentiality clause protects the identities of those seeking help and ensures a safe and sacred space for participants. I appreciate the assurance of confidentiality even though I make no secret of the fact that I’m involved in an Anonymous Fellowship and it has helped me tremendously. But the more sobering reality is that broadcasting your affiliation with a particular recovery group could cause others to doubt it’s effectiveness if you relapse.
Here’s what I say to that: Every single day I see miracles. I am one. If I chose to go back out again and do whatever it is not because of an ineffective program. It is because I grew complacent in my recovery and made a poor decision. I can’t say for sure that will never happen but I know with absolute certainty it won’t today. And if it does happen I know exactly where to go and what to do to get back on track.
Thank you for letting me share.
With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,