I imagine if you asked everyone in the sober blogging community why it is that they started their journey in the blogosphere, you would get answers as varied and as revealing as their own blogs are. It is clear that the sober blogging community is a small and yet ever changing body. It’s something that I enjoy, as I get to know a healthy amount of fantastic people, but it’s not that I get lost in a sea of faces and 12-pt font. It’s sort of reminds me of where I currently work – it’s large enough that there are many departments to interact with and deal with, but not large enough where we are all just employee numbers and HR stats. There is a sense of a greater good, with everyone pulling their cog-like weight if you will, each an intrinsic part of the collective conscious. Every time the “publish” button is pushed, another strand in the tapestry gets threaded where it needs to be placed. The big picture continues to expand, to grow in colour and contrast, to gain a richer texture.
This is the kind of stuff I stand back and poke at now and then, let the Universe show it’s hand as it’s needed and see where I stand in the big scheme when I am floating through blogs. I half-jokingly refer to this blog my “little corner of the world”, and to me that’s really what it is – a part of, not apart from. And yet, it’s a stand alone thing that gets better when interlaced with everyone else. It’s sort of a reflection of my recovery – I was the lone wolf, in my den, alone until I learned that getting out there and interacting with others would make me feel better, act better, think better. Just be better, in many ways. Being in self-imposed exile didn’t do me any good, other than succumb to the inner Level Six Black Lower Level Demons that seemed to swirl around me and the bottle. Like they say, the problem with being isolated is that you get bad advice out there. And bad advice I got. So getting on board with a recovery program that encourages and finds results with working with others, sharing with others and opening up to others was a frightening venture for me. And my blog has reflected that, to some extent.
Like many folks in the blogosphere, I started my blog with the intent of just venting, blowing off steam, getting stuff out that I didn’t want to bother anyone else with. I kept it all in, and yet put it all into the universe at the same time. I didn’t put myself out there, never ventured past the confines of my tiny little planet, never showed an interest in what others were doing. How apt for this type of alcoholic – selfish and self-centered. I was just interested in what was going on with me. (And I don’t mean to say that anyone that starts their blog in the same way is of the same mindset). For me, I just didn’t want to do much with the blog in the first place. I was still struggling in being interested in others in real life, and so I certainly wasn’t interested in others in the Interweb Fantastico. I just wanted to start writing anything to get some relief. My motivations weren’t as noble as I wanted them to be, but it served me well.
I was reading Running on Sober’s post on blogging a while back, and I thought it was quite groovy and brilliant. It must have sat with me subconsciously, as it has come up more as of late – what is the point of all this? Why do I sober blog? Or perhaps the question should be “Why do I continue to sober blog?” I mean, I am not planning on shutting down the factory here quite yet. I think I still have a few more posts I have in me to painfully grind out. But then what? This seems like a very common things amongst the blogging community in general – this general questioning of where, how often, why. It brought me back to thinking of Sherry shutting down her old blog and starting up Maintaining the Zen – a breaking out of the restraining “sober only” mandate and getting into life in general, through the lens of a sober person. It also reminded me of when Mrs. D almost retired her blog and the outcry against it that followed her short-lived retirement. She too has scaled back and has spread her wings, so to speak, making her presence known more on Twitter-form than in blog form.
And in observing the sober blogs out there, you get a quick cross-section of the range of where everyone is in their journey. There are some wonderful new blogs from some women and men who are new on the path to sobriety. Their trials and tribulations are more visceral, more immanent, more face-to-the-mirror type of raw material that brings home to me what it was like when I was there. It reminds me of how it used to be, and how it could be again if I am not vigilant and self-aware and consistently working at things. The posts from newcomers are striking in their similarities, as we all come from a common place, and follow a certain script. But what I really enjoy is the individuality, the elan, the vigor, the fight and freedom that present themselves in those blogs. On the flip side is the tangible sorrow, withdrawal pains, edginess, personal relationship and work issues. It’s part and parcel of recovery, as once we start to open up our feelings, released from the fog of alcohol, we get all emotions back – the highs and lows. One doesn’t present itself without the other.
And to those bloggers, I am ever grateful for their grit and for showing me where it all starts.
There are those with more time, of course. A couple of years perhaps, even longer, past the days of white knuckles and ducking social events. Those who are more comfortable in their skins, who have done the work (and continuing to do so), who are jazzing into life’s problem’s head on and learning to take the lumps while serving up the grace of one who has traveled through hell and back. Some have even written books on the topic, or in other genres. What strikes me in reading these awesome, inspiring folks is their dedication to helping others, in shining the light on what needs to be illuminated, to showing others where the booby traps lay in the path. I always see things in a new way when I sift my way through these blogs. I also see that I am not alone in my weird thinking sometimes, and just taking in what others are doing and experiencing helps me in ways I don’t even consciously know.
And to those bloggers, I am ever grateful for lighting the path for those of us behind you.
Blogs come and go, as I have seen. Some are started with vigor and later left abandoned by the side of the road like a spent jalopy. Some have had a few random posts and given up on early. Some have run their course and are retired. Others start strong and continue strong. It’s what it’s worth for the time, at the time. The only rule is that it’s the blogger’s rules. Whatever you want, go for it. And I love that freedom, and seeing people express themselves in the most creative ways. The humanness and reality of the writing is what is both grounding and uplifting. The one thing I read over and over again is how people are most themselves when writing in their corners of the world. No one to impress. No one to hide from. Just pure being.
As for the original question – why do I sober blog?
Because it’s in my path right now. It’s what I need to be doing right now. It’s what I feel guided and navigated towards. I blog because I need to communicate and transmit what I have found in recovery and in my journey. Not in a righteous way, but in the spirit of giving back. And in giving back and working with others, it helps me as well. It’s a win-win situation. I know that we all have different ways of approaching recovery. Some are AA, some aren’t, some come at it in a more spiritual way, others in a more intellectual way, some through support and encouragement. What is remarkable is the respect that everyone has for each other’s path. The commonality is the disease of alcoholism and the effects it has on us. The communal thread is where we are now with things, and how are we improving ourselves. The idea of reaching out to someone on the other side of the planet, or even across the street, is fundamental to our growth, as recovering alcoholics (and addicts) and as fallible, yet strong human beings. We bring joy, enthusiasm, experience, love, compassion and serenity to the table, share it with others, and pray that they take some of it home in a doggie bag. We bring hope.
And that’s what it boils down to – hope. Where there is hope, there is a chance. There is room for change. There is a place to recover and be the best people we were created to be.
Hope trumps all.