I’m going to have to tread carefully here as what’s on my mind has been triggered by a situation a friend finds herself in, which is sensitive and I don’t want to add any grief where there is plenty already. Perhaps I don’t even need to mention that little vague part so perhaps I’ll just hop back up to here and delete this paragraph altogether, I dunno.
Here I am. I’m sober and I’m happy. Perhaps I would have been just as sober and every bit as happy right now even if I’d never created this blog. However, I haven’t discovered that parallel universe so I have no way of knowing for sure unless an alternative version of me who doesn’t blog appears and tells me how she’s doing. What I can tell you is that I can’t imagine being without this space of mine, this little corner of the blogosphere where I can voice how I feel, ponder sobriety and everything that goes with it, seek answers and share in other people’s journeys too. I can’t imagine being without YOU. You are mostly anonymous, often I don’t even know what you look like, where you live or your last name. I don’t know what you do for a living and I don’t know the name of the person who was the first to break your heart. What I do know, however, is that your insights, pearls of wisdom and kind words mean more than I can express.
I go on here, sometimes feeling lost or like an alien, and either someone will comment and let me know they’ve been there too or I read a post where someone else has been through the same thing. I go on here, sometimes feeling like I just slayed a scary dragon and someone will tell me I did good. I go on here and learn. I go on here and I take great care to show the same kindness and empathy to you too, wanting to show you I heard you when you felt down or cheer you on when you were victorious. I go on here knowing I can always be honest and it’s here that I feel safe and secure sharing things almost to the same degree I feel able to share my innermost thoughts with Hubby and my closest friends.
Another important aspect for me – and something that touches me so deeply I can’t describe the joy it gives me when it happens – are those tiny little instances when someone might say that something I wrote meant something or helped in some way. The reason why this makes me so happy and so deeply moved is because this is precisely what I come away with on a daily basis on here. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of times I’ve read something someone else has written and felt better as a result – be it that I felt reassured, empowered, comforted, stronger, encouraged or just that I could relate and felt HEY, ME TOO!
Now, I do understand this is a public space. Of course. Anyone and everyone can happen upon this little space of mine and I have no control over who does – family, friends, employers or anyone who knows those people in turn and me by association. That’s true. Therefore I take care to not use anyone’s real name except my own, and I never post pictures of anyone other than myself with the exception of one of Bambino when he was three years old which no one could recognise him from anyway. Obviously, if say my mother read this blog, she would know the obvious players like Hubby and Bambino in real life, and she’d easily figure out who Cherokee is. If Poppy came on here, she would in all likelihood at the very least suspect it is her I’ve written about. But no one else would. I do take care in that way, mindful that I don’t hang people out to dry or expose anyone in any way that could POSSIBLY affect them. It is a public space after all and I am very aware of that. Still, I feel comfortable sharing in this way and I’m very, very attached to Storm and the little world I’ve found here. Fact remains though, that what I share is deeply personal. I make myself vulnerable and I open up. This is my choice and I am – as we all are on here – aware that pretty much anyone might read it.
Bottom line, however, that if my mother did come in and read (hej Mamma, välkommen!), or my father (tjena Pappa!), or even some old boss (hi Andrew, putting me in charge of the Christmas party and the carnage it turned into makes a lot more sense now, huh?) – this is me and whilst I’ve not gone and got myself a personalised number plate for my car that reads DRUNK4RD, I’m happy to look anyone in the eye any day of the week and say YEP, this is my story. But I would absolutely, unequivocally demand what I’ve been met with in this space without having to ask for it: respect and courtesy. I’m happy to share but I won’t be abused.
I’m sure I’ve made it clear how important this space is to me for the multitude of reasons that it is. And given this is beginning to sound like I’ve been abused, I haven’t been. But a friend has. And it made me think about how I’d feel if someone who dislikes me or wishes me harm found my blog and decided to use it against me. *looking nervously over my shoulder* Saying openly I’m an alcoholic would be excellent ammunition to fire at me in, say, a custody battle. Or forward to prospective employers if it weren’t for the fact that I’m pursuing a career in the recovery services where being in recovery yourself is actually a merit in many ways. Anyway, I’m sure there could be situations that would at the very least embarrass me. Or even sadden me, for example if put to my elderly grandmothers who are of a different generation and might not find this all that easy to swallow because they may hold more old fashioned views on having a drinking problem and the people who do (which would not be their lovely granddaughter, right?). Or imply I’m crazy or unstable for sharing or something else that’d make something healthy and sincere seem dirty and bad. You know, nasty stuff.
Or, say someone went on here and proceeded to bombard Hubby or other people I love with screen shots or quotes from what I’ve written, often ripped right out of context but with the aim to really destroy me. Look at the dirty drunk! Destroy me by taking the heartfelt things I share and using them to reduce me to something I’m not. I shower for starters. You know what I mean though, I’m sure. The friend in question isn’t an alcoholic, by the way, but like me her blog is a place where she shares – in the same manner as so many of us do here – things she has overcome and offers advice and insights around what she’s learnt. And it’s HER space. It’s a space where lots of people go, me included, because it means something to us too. And I find myself absolutely shocked to the core and so thoroughly disgusted and offended that it just took one bad egg to ruin that. Take something so lovely and turn twist it into something ugly. I am genuinely upset. Even though it’s not me it’s happening to I can really imagine how I’d feel if it were me. It actually breaks my heart a little.
Actually, I did have something I once wrote twisted and fired back at me. I wrote a handful of articles for a little network for women (and I mean LITTLE – it was a small community website with perhaps a readership of a few thousand, not exactly Huffington Post!) and Someone found those. Someone went on to comment using a fake name and when I found out I got really angry – there I was, never having mentioned names or even said anything that made anyone other than ME look bad in anyway, least of all Someone, and I felt really violated at thinking I’d responded to a reader honestly and in good faith but being fooled because they weren’t who they said they were. I thought it was a bit shit. Oh, and I found it frightening too, really creepy to correspond in comments with what you think is a stranger but in fact it was Someone. Brr! So I wrote an article about being trolled. That got twisted to mean I’d called Someone a troll by way of attacking how Someone looks. I didn’t appreciate that one bit and I did firmly stand my ground when confronted about it. I made damned clear what it was and what it wasn’t. I shut it down. Not the articles, but the nonsense. This situation is a little different. You can’t reason with madness, unfortunately.
Even so. What if it didn’t get used against me or as a weapon to shoot me down? Having someone who has hostile feelings towards me reading this would change things, it really would. I’d probably have to really censor myself. If my mother did read, I’d probably want to soften how bad my drinking got – I wouldn’t want her to have to read stuff like that because it might hurt her. And let’s say if Hubby’s boss read it! I’d be mega aware that it might reflect badly on him! What if it COULD be twisted somehow, that Hubby could be made to look bad because he married an alcoholic? OK, that’s so stupid I don’t even want to entertain the thought, but still.
As much as I feel really quite militant about being open and refusing to hide my recovery and my journey, it WOULD make it more awkward. Luckily, I don’t know that there’s anyone who wishes me harm. I’m sure there are people who don’t like me who might just read this with great glee, my ex-friend Friction being of that ilk – perhaps she’d laugh with delight at how I “ended up” an alcoholic. No, I don’t think she would either because I don’t think she’s evil. Unless there is something really wrong with you, I just don’t see how anyone would. I wouldn’t. Then again. Here we are and when I hear a friend tell me how someone’s doing this I find myself getting genuinely frightened. Not necessarily of the same happening to me but of what hatred does to people and makes them capable of.
Do you know what? Hey, I’ll address this bit to the one person I am fairly certain dislikes me, Friction. Yes, I’m an alcoholic. (Did you not suspect, by the way? You’re bright – I’d be intrigued to know how it looked to you!) I’m not ashamed. Yes, I have regrets and I’m not proud of how I used to drink and live. But I’m sober now and I’m proud of how far I’ve come and who I am. Whatever you think of me is nothing to do with that though, which I gather you realise anyway. Perhaps you find it funny or it serves me right or whatever because sometimes it’s nice to think Karma’s a bitch or have a giggle when someone we don’t like falls over. That’s cool and you’ve got every right to have an opinion. But this is my space. You are welcome here just like everyone else and like everyone else you are welcome to comment too. I don’t massively like you either but I do believe you’re a good person at heart and we just rub each other up the wrong way.
Pappa, if you have against all odds found your way here… Well, you know all this anyway. I’d probably feel better if you didn’t do a deep dive into everything I’ve written simply because I know you love me and I don’t want you to feel sad.
This is me.
Wow, funny old post but I ended up realising how we make ourselves so vulnerable and perhaps we end up with a false sense of security given 99.999999999% of the people who inhabit this space are so kind and respectful towards one another. My view of the blogosphere hasn’t changed and my willingness to share and be open and honest remain what it always was: unshakable. If anything, this made me even more determined not to hide. This community is too special and too important. For my friend it’s a lot more complicated than that and I wish I could make it all go away, but there we are. I can only hope that what’ll prevail is goodness, kindness and love – the very cornerstones of this little world we have here.
Today I’m not going to drink.