Blogs are our faces to the world--very public faces. Even the most personal of bloggers are mindful of this. Our BlogHer of the Week, Maggie of Okay. Fine. Dammit. was aware of the potential backlash that could ensue by coming clean to her readers about her alcoholism, but she made an even richer outcome possible with her confession. With less care this post could be dismissed as TMI, but Maggie's clarity and generosity with the details of her struggle elevates this piece to something illuminating, even healing.
In her post, "Nine Days Sober", Maggie reaches her first step in recovery, creates a space for readers to address their own experiences with alchoholism and to support her sobriety, and she yanks the last scrap of gauze laid over her self-portrait--the part she was once able to justify as necessary.
Maggie was always a careful blogger, but being too careful began to wear on her. Discretion was becoming dishonesty:
I don’t believe in giving you all the details, in telling you the names of my children, in journaling my every move and thought. And you all know that, and yet you keep coming back. You make me feel like I’ve given you just enough of me, shown you just enough, that you find me worth liking and worth your precious time. I sit here behind this screen and think, But they don’t know me at all.
Of course, every blogger has to decide what is suitable to share with her audience. But Maggie realized that her penchant for approval and privacy online mirrored the denial that paralyzed her in real life, and if she was going to truly get sober, her admission of powerlessness would have to be made in both realms.
Maggie pulls from other inspirational bloggers who lead her to the conclusion that anything other than fully disclosing her disease is defeat.
This is not some questionable behavior I’m engaging in, this is who I am. Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive, fatal illness, and though I had no control over its occurrence I have absolute control over taking responsibility for it, over its treatment. ... I am learning that if there is something that knocks my breath away with fear, then that is exactly the thing I now need to move toward, not away from. That is where this lives.
She shares with us the thinking that led to her confession and in doing so opens our eyes to the thickness of the walls that surround functioning alcoholics. The walls don't go away; they must be sandblasted. Maggie couldn't destroy the walls without all of us feeling the reverberation.
Even just one short week ago, I worried I would never speak these words here. I worried I would never write anything again because early sobriety has consumed my entire existence and if I can’t talk about it, I can’t talk about anything at all. My words have been stuck behind these other ones, with no dam-buster in sight. I either pull the plug on this blog and quietly disappear, or I face you, it, this.
I for one am grateful that Maggie didn't pull the plug and slink offline, undetected and unaccountable. One in 12 of us share Maggie's struggle, and more, like myself, have lived with people who opted to retreat, leaving us hurt and confused.
Maggie reminds us that stopping drinking is not the same as being sober. Her powerful first step enrolls us as witnesses, not voyeurs, to her journey toward sobriety. We can't help but cheer her on and contemplate who else might be helped with her story.
Thanks to everyone for continuing to send in your nominated posts. Remember to nominate individual posts, not entire blogs, and keep them coming! If you want to check out all the BlogHer of the Week posts, check out the BlogHer of the Week archive.
For Elisa, Lisa and Jory
Jory Des Jardins writes on business and career topics at BlogHer, and on her personal blog From Here to Autonomy
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