Guest blogger Bye-Bye-Beer is back again this week with another excellent original post. Last week she wrote about her first 23 months of being sober. This week she explores technology’s place in sobriety, and discovers some really helpful and amazing things about online recovery.
In the first few weeks of sobriety, I started a sober blog and began attending weekly recovery meetings. The blog stalled, probably because I literally had no readers, but I kept attending meetings for the next year and a half. Around six months sober, I would start blogging again in earnest, but in the wobbly days of early recovery it was twelve step meetings that got me through.
I mostly sat quiet and listened though occasionally shared and always related to what others were saying. I felt like I’d found my tribe and still wonder why I stopped going to meetings altogether, even though my recovery program feels rich and strong.
The short answer is that meetings weren’t convenient to me as a working mom. The only ones that worked with my family’s schedule were the 8:30pm clubhouse meetings, which ended after I was usually in bed and left me feeling out of place. That particular meeting had a younger and less stable crowd that I couldn’t always relate to.
I did find a meeting close to home that was more convenient and comfortable, but over time I felt less connected there too. By that time I was posting and connecting regularly with some amazing sober bloggers, so I guess I transitioned that feeling of connection to the sober online community.
There is no right or wrong way to do recovery. If a recovery approach works for you, you’ll be sober and getting better and stronger by the day (even if you can’t see it in that particular day). So if someone had said to me that I shouldn’t stop attending meetings because that would mean inevitable relapse, I would have had every right to feel fearful about making that leap. And I should know because I did hear that prediction, though in the more general sense that meeting makers make it (meeting quitters drink again, at least theoretically).
It feels more honest to say people who connect with others in a meaningful way can get past that pull to drink their stress and pain away. It doesn’t matter how you do that or what it looks like over time…but you probably do need that connection and at times you may struggle to feel it.For some people, meetings are just easier. They work them into their schedule and take advantage of the built-in support network. They find reward and renewed purpose in giving back to others by eventually sponsoring others or chairing meetings.
I’m still envious of people I know who stuck with meetings long term because they have real-life people they can meet for lunch or coffee or they just see them at regular meetings. I imagine an extroverted person would find more benefit in this and wonder if that’s what drew me to online support. I’m a reserved introvert and accepting that part of myself has led to a more peaceful sobriety and existence.
Writing my sober blog and – this part is key – reading and leaving comments on other people’s blogs is where I struck up some pretty special friendships that I still have today. I feel like I know these people in real life and not just because I have met a couple of them face to face.
I’ve even met one woman on several occasions. We did a 5K and a haunted hayride together (though not on the same day) and next week we’re planning to have lunch to celebrate my 5 year soberversary. Anyone who thinks online support isn’t the same hasn’t spent enough time in the sober blogosphere.
Can a person get sober and stay that way on their own? I’m sure there are some who would say yes because they did it that way. We all have different personalities and needs, and I won’t qualify another’s sobriety and happiness. I happen to need others and doubt I could have stayed sober entirely on my own.
Connecting with other sober people online allowed me to get support in a way that felt natural and frankly more convenient. This might not work for others or someone might need online support in tandem with in-person meetings or sessions with an addictions counselor.
Our recovery needs change over time and our program can evolve into something different and ultimately more meaningful and rewarding. It’s hard to take that leap when we feel pulled to try something new, but when I’ve listened for the next right thing and stayed open, I’ve found more reward than I thought possible. The longer I’m sober, the more convinced I am that there are countless ways to not drink, and the only right way is the one that works for you.
Special guest post from Bye-Bye-Beer. Check out her blog here.