Counting On Us


You just stay cute, puck boy.

Of course you can. You’re a big boy now.

So what day are you at in your recovery? 13? 9? Creeping up to one year of sobriety?

When I recently returned to the blogosphere, after a two or so year hiatus, the one thing I did was to scan the sober recovery horizon and try to reconnect with old friends and their sites. I also wanted to explore and reach out to new ones. I was both surprised and not surprised to see that many of my long-term comrades-in-arms were no longer blogging any more. A few had taken long breaks like I did, and they too were returning to the fold. But many others had slowly faded out of the digital sober community. That’s just how it goes in the blogging world.

Many start blogs after spending time lurking and reading other sober blogs, scanning their screens perhaps with drink in hand. They get into recovery and get the itch to share their story, and/or to use their new corner of the universe (as I like to call our blogs) as an online diary of sorts. These bloggers are often day counting and real-timing their very early recovery, both the ups and downs. At the other end of the spectrum are those who have been in recovery for a while longer, and still share about alcoholism and their experiences with it and don’t venture far off the topic. You probably know some of these blogs. You areΒ most likely the wonderful authors behind them.

In the middle, well, that’s where a great deal of movement occurs. What I have seen is many people get past the initial latch of alcoholism’s pull and settle into a new normal. The drama and roller coaster-type emotions start to peter out and level off. Families start to heal. New jobs crop up. New lovers enter the picture. A sense of duty and purpose emerges. Life starts to get shiny and the day counting isn’t as important as it used to be. We aren’t white knuckling it any more. We feel more comfortable in our skin.

Sure, these are sexy beasts, but a bitch when it comes to tax time.

Sure, these are sexy beasts, but a bitch when it comes to tax time.

And that’s when many people start to move away from their blogs, naturally. The need to document their lives isn’t as important as life turns the corner and they are looking up to the sun rather down at their muddied and shame-splashed shoes. It’s a beautiful shift to witness, and to see those who struggled for so long start to walk out of the haze and into the sunlight of the spirit. I miss their words and their company, but I know that they’re making the best of their new lives.

Then there are others who start to branch out. Not everything is about putting the drink down. The bottles have long ceased to be an issue, and it’s more about navigating life in general. People start to talk more about their interests in life, their family life, their work, their passions, and their hobbies. Some rarely mention recovery any more. But what they have to say, for me, is still interesting, because I know that whatever it is they are talking about is there only because they were able to get and stay in recovery.

For this cat, I am certainly in the latter category. I think it’s important that I examine things through the eyes of recovery, but life is more than just recovery. It’s about, well, life. And while I needed that immersion into the waters of change early on in my sobriety, I didn’t get sober to just sit in meetings all day and stay in that warm bubble of recovery. I say this from experience, having gone through that rough patch where I had to finally leave that warm place of safety and actually go out and live life. It was frightening. But it was necessary, and I am glad I took that leap.

The salad days.

The salad days.

I mention all this because as I continue to start to foster relationships out here on the blogosphere, I see a similar mix of people that I did years ago. The faces and names have changed, but it’s still a healthy blend of newcomers, mid-timers and old timers. I love the support that newcomers / day counters give one another. I love the encouragement they get from others. I also love how they remind me what it’s like out there. What it’s like to come out from the cold, blowing our hands to warm up, glasses fogged up, bodies sweaty and dewy and craving dry shelter from the wet disaster we sloshed around in. It reminds me that I was once there, and to be grateful that I was able to continue doing what has worked for me.

So for that, thank you newcomers.

For the mid-times, I love reading about the new adventures and opportunities that recovery has given them. Whether it be a second career, or how they handle their once cuddly kids as they turn into snarky teens (bless their goth hearts), or becoming warriors in the gym, the boardroom or the soccer pitch. I admire the commitment they have in whatever endeavors they tackle, bridging wisdom with practicality, and handling life’s ugly thorns with dignity and grace. I watch them grow and become more and more comfortable in their lot in life and sharing so much of themselves with others.

So for that, thank you mid-timers.

For the old timers (or long timers, if you wish), there aren’t a lot of them in the sobersphere, but boy do they make their mark. Old timers often circle back into their passion for recovery and are relentless in their desire to give back to others. I admire their ability to keep things simple, to get down to spiritual roots, to look at things in a way that eludes me at first blush. They show that life is more than what we make it out to be, and for me, old timers have always been there to tell me β€œdon’t worry kiddo, you’ve got a lot to learn, but you’re on the right path.” They carry a low-level calming energy I often envy. They say so much without saying a lot. They just are.

So for that, thank you old timers.

funny-old-gamer

I sense an ass kicking.

So whether you’re one Day 1, or you’re celebrating 35 years, remember that you are where you are meant to be. You matter. We all started on that first shaky day, our trembling hands wiping away tears of regret, guilt and shame. We’ve all been there. Some of us have been there many times. What ties us all together is the desire to find the life we were meant to live, sans liquid numbing agent. We are all a piece of the puzzle, a mosaic of new and lived experiences, of a community which loves us before we can love ourselves.

Keep writing guys. Keep sharing. Whether you are anonymous or not, whether you are writing for the first time since high school or are a professional journalist, whether you’re a stay-at-home mother or the vice-president of a global corporation, just keep writing. People may not comment, but they are reading. People may not thank you right now or ever, but you’re performing a service. You may not think your story is interesting, but to someone else, you’re their hero for sharing it. Who knows, they may start their own blog soon, or open up to their family, or seek the help they need. We aren’t just typing madly in the basement…we’re helping to save lives. To save one another.

And while I don’t count the days any more, I count on every one of you.

story-matters

51 responses to “Counting On Us

  1. Everybody’s word press timeline Brighton with a message in the bottle came back to life. Mine especially, because I only know you as buzz kill. When I stumbled on your word press site because of comments you left, I was not surprised to see these insane following you had.

    You produce phenomenal content consistently, that’s a given at this point. But what you do Paul, that is so cool such a great service, is that reaching out to new bloggers new writers newly sober people. Your heart shines there, and it is a beautiful thing to watch and engage with.

    Cheers, Paul! Here’s to you and all you do!

    • Thanks so much for this Mark. I never saw myself as reaching out to newcomers, but I guess I do. My sponsor told me he used to watch me at meetings scanning for the new guy. I think I just have a soft spot for the underdog, so to speak. I know what it’s like to be ignored at a meeting when you’re new (which was my experience) so I never wanted that to happen. I also know what it’s like to write a blog or put something out there and not have anyone respond or read. So I try to do that.

      You’re a great cheerleader yourself and I appreciate all that you do to support and encourage others. I guess that is part of our ethos, our mandate. Glad to be doing it with you!

      Paul

  2. I wonder if I will continue blogging. I would like to think so but even now, only in early sobriety, I wonder what the heck I am doing. I guess I hope I am helping someone…..somewhere. or maybe I am helping myself. I appreciate the long term sober bloggers, they give me encouragement that all will be well. Thank you Paul.

    • We don’t know the future – I didn’t know when I would stop blogging either, and I certainly didn’t think I would be back at it. I try to follow my heart and also sage folks who have helped me along in my own journey, online and offline. I certainly believe you are helping others. I know you help me. And I know it sounds backwards – how can a newcomer help someone who has some sober time? By helping to clarify things in our own path, by talking about and sharing things, by reminding ourselves of the things we may have forgotten. So you definitely help this cat.

      Thanks for being here and please keep at it! I always look forward to your posts.

      Paul

  3. Yes Paul, our stories are important, for ourselves to voice them and for others to read and or hear. That reminder informs us of who we are, who we were as well as who we can become.

    • Jeff! So wonderful to see you here! We don’t talk enough.

      And you are spot on – our stories are so important in terms of relating and identifying with. And I like what you say about who we can become. I see people who have really grown and I want what they have.

      Thanks for the wonderful comments.

  4. I’m glad you came back. I love the longer term bloggers.

    I hope to remain in the blog world for a long time. For me, the honour of occasionally offering hope or compassion also provides my necessary reminder that my life is as it is because I was brave enough to change and part of that change was choosing sobriety.

    I still marvel at that every day.

    • I hope you stick around too. I see how much you comment on other people’s blogs, and how much support and encouragement you give them, and it’s quite touching. I spend more time reading and commenting on other people’s posts than I do on mine, and I am happy to do so. For some people I know it brightens their day! And that is a gift you have in sharing of yourself. So for that, I thank you.

      Let’s marvel at this together!

      Paul

  5. As always, I am at awe at not only your talent as a writer but at the depth of your spirituality, your kindness and your compassion. What a blessing you are! You do make a difference.

  6. I agree with Rosie. I have enjoyed your writing and shared your blog with others. AND it is inspiring to me–always.

  7. This is a wonderful post – it’s interesting, thought-provoking and as people have already commented your kindness definitely shines through your words. I’m firmly in the newbie camp still and very much appreciate the support you’ve given me. I haven’t really thought very far ahead about the blogging so I’ve no idea how long I’ll be around. Thanks for sharing and inspiring πŸ™‚

    • Ha ha…not sure how “together” I am all the time! But it sure is nice not to be in the grip of the grapes, so to speak, although my head does need a constant shake to stay clear! Thanks for being here and for being a part of the community. We need you!

  8. I love this, Paul. You’re right–our stories are needed. I think especially now when the world feels turbulent & uncertain I need to keep hearing how sober people navigate life. And a diverse variety of stories are needed too! Folks from all backgrounds need to blog and share their stories because, like you said, you never who’s reading and who you’ve helped just by telling the truth.
    I love you & im glad we met in blogland & are both back doing it again.
    – S.

    • Thanks Sean (sorry for the late reply).
      I agree about sharing our stories. I know that people will hear/read many stories and not identify and then lo and behold they hear/read one and the light goes on. They hear “their” story! And then it starts to fall into place. I think the diversity is key, and you nail that.

      Love ya too, Sean. Glad we’ve reconnected here!

      Paul

  9. Paul…I just started reading your blog recently…glad you’re here. Your thoughts in this post are so dead-on! I have been “busy with life” lately so I only post once or twice per month (and usually just a haphazzard, “hello, I’m alive and sober” type post…not the daily, deep gut-wrenching posts I had in the early days)…anyway the other day I received a message out of the blue from someone who said that reading my blog helped them gather some sober time together. It’s really something to be able to help someone else.
    Jenn

    • Thank you Jenn – glad I found your blog too! I like what you said about the “deep gut-wrenching” posts of yore. So true! We all had those and they are important for getting it out of us (I didn’t blog until my second year, but I had a journal that I wrote in daily, and it was pretty much the same stuff). We think that that kind of stuff is trite after, but I think that it does help a lot of folks identify (and like you had happen to you – you get an email out of the blue telling you so!)

      Thank you for being here πŸ™‚

      Paul

  10. Awesome post, Paul. 8,852 days and counting. I have an app for that (Twelve Steps The Companion).

    I write because it’s the best way I’ve found to share my experience, strength and hope.

    • Holy crow – that’s a lot of years!! And yes, I love how you write so passionately about biking, but you also talk about recovery too in the same way. You were definitely one of the people I was thinking about when I wrote this. Thank you for all your service and congrats on your almost 25 years!

    • Thank you Robert – so glad to see you here! I am loving the podcasts – so happy you’re still doing them. Hope to meet you one day if and when you pass through Toronto.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  11. So great. I’m not on day counting either, but I do love hitting annual milestones. March will be another one. Yay. Paul, You’ve given so much to me and to countless others. I’m proud to call you friend. Not many platforms in the world where 1) we can grow in our integrity 2) lovingly support 3) stumble and even fly, as we journey through life. So glad I figured out that a drink today was NEVER going to be a good idea.

    • Oh Lisa – so happy to see you here! I too enjoy the yearly milestones. I’m a sucker for watching others celebrating another year sober. I am so blessed to have crossed paths with you and I look forward to having another chat with you! You have so much to give, and seriously…that book of yours. Still one of the best around. And I am not just saying that. (I keep telling people that it’s the book I wish I wrote!)

      Love,
      Paul

  12. I haven’t counted days in a while, but just realized I am at 1202. Amazing, happy to be here, happy to read your blog. I find sobriety easier as time goes by, but know that it is important to stay on the path of reading blogs and being thankful.

    • 1201! That’s fantastic! Isn’t it amazing how we couldn’t go that many seconds or minutes without wanting to pick up and now it’s that many 24-hrs?? Stunning. Thank you for being here and for reading and commenting. I really, really appreciate it and appreciate you!

      Blessings
      Paul

  13. a helpful perspective, thank you…. I especially remember how bereft I felt in the first year or so of recovery when those ahead of me on the road stopped writing so much, or stopped writing entirely. Not saying whatsoever that anyone should feel obliged to write – just that when I find myself thinking, “oh, no-one will be interested in this, it’s not worth writing about ” I do try and remind myself that we never know what might help others, and to get off my damn arse and WRITE.
    Glad you are here, as always! Xx

    • Prim! So sorry for the late delay. It’s been a mad week. Anyway, I think you are totally right in how we can second-guess ourselves about “what’s the point of this all?” when we find later that we have people lurking or finding something in our writing which helps them. It’s sometimes the only thing that keeps me going, to be honest!

      Thank you for YOU πŸ™‚

      Paul

  14. Thank you, Paul!
    I found you here because you commented on my blog!
    But I remember that Sherry (Oh for the love of me). also talked about her good friend, Paul at Buzz Kill!
    That’s you!
    xo
    wendy

    • Hi Wendy!

      I have found that commenting and sharing with one another is the best way to connect. I love having found you and so many others. It’s fascinating reading your story and what you have to share…so please keep doing it!

      And Sherry! I love her to bits. Glad we connected!

      Paul

  15. I’m on day 4,659

    Life, recovery… you say trunk I say boot – you say dollar I say pound. The same thing from a different perspective. For me life is recovery now – recovery is life or at least the integration continues as does the integration of me within all of that toward whatever it is I’ll be on my deathbed which above all I hope is still sober and feeling like the struggle and suffering of life has been valuable. The continual striving to be as comfortable in my skin as I can at any moment in time given what the world throws up to irritate that.

    • Holy crow – that’s a LOT of time sober, my friend!

      Yup – often we speak the same language but using a different dialect! Everyone’s path is different, and yet at the same time we are all striving towards the same thing. I like what you say – life is recovery and recovery is life. For me it’s a way of life – my old way didn’t quite cut it, did it? I was thinking about this on the way home tonight, and how I need to take my recovery seriously (but not myself) because this shit kills. It really does. And so my manner of living has to be different than it did before or there will be no life for me.

      Thanks for this, Graham.

      Cheers

  16. I’m so happy to see that you are blogging again! And my life is so crazy that I never get around to blogging anymore. I hate it. Trying to make an effort to start writing again. It’s good to read your words, friend!

    KC

    • Thanks Josie! I am in awe of you in how you’ve been so unwavering in your consistency and dedication in your blog. Seriously. You’re a rock. And so many people count on your words. Thank you for being a light!

      Paul

  17. This is awesome Paul, thank you πŸ™‚ Having just arrived here on the blogosphere…and just about to enter recovery – I’m looking forward to reading every last article on your blog πŸ™‚ It’s helping already. Thank you!

  18. Pingback: In lumina·

  19. So good. Thank you for sharing your story. As a newbie to sobriety and a long time blogger this is a new space for me. It has helped me stay accountable in some ways. To lend support feels good. To say, “me too” is pretty meaningful and I appreciate your words. Best.

  20. I love this post Paul!! The ‘newbies’ are reminders of where we have been, (don’t want to go back),& keep us grounded. I also have great respect and love for the ‘old timers’ (relative term;). The messages and words written from experience are priceless and I hold them close to my heart (yours included). I’m glad we are all on here. In blogging world, it’d comfort its home.
    Katie

Whatcha Thinkin' ?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s