you tell who you want, when you want, what you want

from my inbox:

Potato Girl (day 158):

HI Belle, I have a question that I have gotten advice from out-patient recovery support groups, and my therapist, yet I a still struggling with. I am having a hard time telling friends that I have quit drinking … over the last 2 years I progressively isolated myself because of drinking. I told myself friendships change because of marriage, kids, jobs etc which is true but ultimately I know I have hurt friendships and I am scared to talk about it. I realize I am still feeling a lot of guilt and shame and to be very honest it scares me to think of never having another drink with these friends. One of my friends that I have been texting with wants me to visit next summer … she texted “we can drink A LOT of wine! I need a break!”  I know she will be supportive of me but I am really avoiding telling her. After discussing this in group therapy I learned that I have way more anxiety about this than others in the group … I feel like my recovery is going really well in most other areas, but this honesty with friends is really holding me back. Have you come across this issue with others in the challenges? Thanks for listening as always. I know I have said it before but I truly wouldn’t be over 5 months without you, your blog, emails and podcasts. THANK YOU!”

me:  I’m not a therapist or a counsellor. i’m not your sponsor, and I don’t know you IRL 🙂 but here’s what I’d say: you tell whoever you want, what you want, when you want to.  you tell any version of the story that suits you. I have long-time boozing friends that I haven’t seen since I’ve been sober.  One friend in particular that’s just like your friend saying “we’ll drink a lot!” … I haven’t told her anything yet. I’m not in her daily life and I’m not visiting tomorrow. If I was visiting tomorrow, I’d say beforehand, by email or text, “can’t wait to see you tomorrow, I can stop and pick up some some wine for you – I’m not drinking these days so I’ll bring tonic for me.” and then when I arrive, she’d ask and maybe be mock-disappointed. and I think I’ll say something like “I’m doing a 100 day leave of absence from alcohol to see how my life is different.” … And then, only if she asked how far into the 100 days I was, only then would I say “I’m on day 600 … turns out I like being sober more than I thought I would.”

that’s it. I, personally, don’t feel that telling anyone that I had a ‘problem’ is useful. instead I say things like “I found that when I drank, I slept badly. and once I quit drinking I slept through the night. my doctor had even put me on hormones to try to fix the sleep. So with all the catering I do, it just doesn’t work out even having a bit of wine.” and most people leave it at that. really.

I talk about this more in my jumpstart class (it’s audio #3) and i’ve written about having a “yeast infection” on the blog. hope that’s helpful 🙂 hugs from me

Potato Girl: “You really have helped me to realize I have the power and control to tell who I want, when I want and how I want. I was feeling a lot of anxiety and pressure from group discussions telling me differently. Telling me that I wasn’t being completely honest if I didn’t share this info, or that I was hiding it so I could drink with these people someday. Well, I know that neither of these things are true. I talked with my therapist more about it and between what she said and what you have written and your blog posts I feel much better about this. I don’t need to broadcast how many times I was hospitalized for alcohol withdrawal, or how I would take shots of vodka at 7 am, etc etc. I have different relationships with each friend and a couple close friends I can share a little more because I am closer, and I want to make some amends for my absence over the last year and a half and hopefully work towards a stronger friendship. For new and casual acquaintances I don’t want to share that I had a ‘problem’. Thank you for pointing that out and helping me see that I can trust myself and my instincts with this.”


update she’s on day 742 today. and i’m on day 1202 🙂