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Old 10-18-2009, 06:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What Did You Say?


Thanks to all of you for your help this past week, my first week of recovery. I have been sober for a week in the past, not a lot of times, but a few - but they were circumstantial and involved no introspection. So this feels a lot different.

So this weekend was intersting for me. I made my announcement about SR to my husband via a very long, sincere letter, and he pledged his support. I put this letter for him under the whisky bottle that was waiting for me when I got home on Thursday. He drank that and 2 more over the weekend during a camping trip we went on with some friends. Over the course of the past few days, I kept politely declining all the drink offers that came my way. Thing is, I rarely have turned down a drink at any time of the day - so this in and of itself was surprising to people - but I just didn't feel like having the SR / AA conversation.

I am okay coming here, discussing my problem with strangers, because even though I am new here I know I have found a group of people who have been to the same place I have been. But I don't know how to tell the people that are "closest" to me? I just can't imagine the words "I have joined a recovery group for alcoholics" ever coming out of my mouth. Out of my fingers as I type...easier. To people I don't look in the eye...much easier. And I know it is so stupid, because my friends have seen me drunk hundreds of times.

Anyway - my questions for the week are how did you tell your friends/family? Did you tell them or did you just go to meetings and make new friends? And finally, is it normal to NOT want to tell people? I know that part of the recovery process is admiting you are powerless - what does that require? I guess I am hoping I can just quietly become a non-drinker without having to publicly own my alcoholism.

- Eternal Sunshine
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Old 10-18-2009, 06:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi ES -

Welcome to recovery!

I can't answer the second part of your post - I am one of those who'd destroyed my entire life - I had no friends or family left to tell.

I had noplace left to go.

I think the part you spoke of about being able to come here and post
proves the vital service that SR is performng for the world at large.
It's a blessing that way.

hang out, keep posting -
maybe others will come along
with advice about
your immediate environment.

Have you chosen a program of recovery?
I noticed the SR/AA conversation reference ...
just wondered how you were handling that part?

and - congratulations on your first week!
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Sunshine, You're off to a good start. You're under no obligation to advertise that you've began a program of recovery. Over time it will be easier for you to decide who to tell and not tell. Your husband knows, the rest can wait until you're ready. The delimma you're going to face is socializing with friends and being asked why you're not drinking. I'll leave that answer up to your best judgement.

I told my immediate family that I was attending AA meetings, but they probably figured out that I had a problem as I was in a 28 day rehab. Yet to this day there are a lot of people I know who don't have a clue that I'm in AA, and this is a number of years later. I don't hide the fact nor do I advertise it.

You mentioned a good point in your thread about discussing your problem with strangers as those people have been to the same place as you. I find myself talking about things with people in AA that I would never discuss with my family. And this isn't so much to hide things, but rather that my friends in AA have a keen understanding of what I'm talking about where my family wouldn't have a clue. For that reason alone a support group, whether it be AA or something else, is invaluable.
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I told my mom I was watching my weight. Most of my other friends were there "the night of the fall", and most of them I haven't talk to in the 9+ months since I quit. It took me a long while to get over my shame, but now I am open about being in recovery.
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Welcome, Eternal, I guess I'm a little late, but hey.

At first, I told a few people in my family that I was quitting drinking--no mention of SR or anything--they said fine, but I didn't have a problem, so I stopped bringing it up. They have also stopped bringing it up, too.

Outside of immediate family--those living with you--I don't see why you should have to mention it, especially if you don't feel comfortable. There are many suggestions around here somewhere, don't know where exactly, but I'm sure they'll be back here, ranging from, as was mentioned, losing weight, health kick, 'making sure I'm not really drinking too much by quitting for a while,' or, in my case, just don't mention it. Strangely, few people have said anything about how I refuse drinks now, just no thank you and no reason. And they've all seen me drunk... pretty much always.

All those new people...yeah no need to say anything.

Also, I don't think I could say the words you quoted at all... the best I'd ever say is "I been talking to people online who useta drink 'bout like us...they got some ideas, I'ma see" which is exactly how I told me cousin about SR--he was supportive. I have not mentioned AA to him, don't plan on it--and he's my best friend.

Maybe as I get more non-drinking time, this all will change, I don't know yet.

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Old 10-18-2009, 08:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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As a new non-drinker, I am struggling with this, too. I don't want to lose all my friends just because they can drink and I can't. There is one friend in particular who is a bad influence on me drinking wise. I was very happy to find out that she is moving overseas in early December. Perfect. The rest of my friends I think I can keep and somehow manage to get them to realize I'm not drinking, I'm still me, and still plan on having as much fun as I did before (just without the drunkenness and stupid stuff.) Each new situation will be a challenge for me, though.
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Old 10-18-2009, 08:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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For me,I have kept it in my family. Each to his own is the way I see things. But it is important to talk with people in your shoes and keeping coming here for support and at times share things to people that will not judge you and can relate to what we are going thru.

Stay strong!
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Old 10-18-2009, 08:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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(This goes a bit past my take on the OP's question, but it was the only way I could paint the picture of how something I felt so difficult became so easy in an instant...)

The last six months of my drinking saw me drowning not just a sea of alcohol but a sea of lies.

Before I lost the will to keep it mentally sorted, I used to joke to myself that I needed a spreadsheet to keep track of who knew/thought what about me. I had quit (and let people know about it) and took up again (and let people know about it) so many times and around so many different people (though the bulk of my drinking was done alone) that I had no idea who at any given point thought I was on or off the wagon, or for how long either way. But at the end, I knew that my immediate family thought I was sober, and it was an absolute lie. It was one that I had been telling for months, ever since I got arrested for my DWI. I called my parents after getting out of jail at 4AM, still in terror over what had (and what could have) happened, and I meant it with every ounce of my being -- to them and myself -- when I said that I was done. Absolutely done drinking.

I walked back from the pay phone (my phone had been lost at some point during the arrest) to my apartment and drank until the sun came up.

My dad came out to TX from the northeast to help me with the legal stuff. He was at least glad I wasn't drinking anymore. I was drunk the whole time.

Over the next few months as I got sicker and sicker, my one remaining friend kept more or less pleading with me to let them know. He knew they would understand. I couldn't fathom it. It was beyond hard -- I saw it as impossible. They would die of sadness. I would somehow become a truly depraved liar -- as if I wasn't depraved in every sense already.

When the moment finally came where I could not go on the way I was one moment longer, when I had been finally beaten in every conceivable way, I remember spending a few moments in what felt like catatonia. Then, in what seemed like an instant, everything changed. The only way I can describe it was it was like the scene in The Matrix (and imitated/paid homage to in movies and TV shows since) where they're in the "loading room". Like the slate of my existence was erased and became blank. A moment, I guess, of clarity. I got up off of the floor, and remembered where weeks earlier I had seen in passing the number of a local detox/rehab. They got called. Then, my parents.

They were the two easiest phone calls I have ever made.

I know this dark moment of the soul doesn't apply to everyone. But the takeaway is that the acceptance and love of my family was there before that moment, and it was probably the best call they could have got. I also learned that the people you are in most fear of opening up to usually always already know the deal -- at the depths of our addicted secrecy our reality is plain as day to those who truly love us.

Today, who knows and who doesn't just isn't a big deal to me. I mean, even casual acquaintances knew I was a drinker. Others knew I was a drunk. Some others knew I was a full-blown alcoholic. They knew the nightmare. All anyone who I'm open with today knows of -- even if they get the whole sordid backstory -- is my sobriety. Which instead of the nightmare is the dream. And what they know when I tell them that I am a recovered alcoholic is that it came true. And I never know when someone who learns my deal -- whether intentionally or in passing, or in or out of the AA program -- will hear the very thing they needed to get hope or help for themselves or someone they're close to.

Chris
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Old 10-18-2009, 09:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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While it's no one's business why I don't drink, I do answer the "why" sometimes with "I'm trying to live healthy", or "I drank enough, now I don't". I don't find people care about what I do nearly as much as I worried they might.
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Old 10-18-2009, 11:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Congratulations on one week ES!
Quote:
Anyway - my questions for the week are how did you tell your friends/family? Did you tell them or did you just go to meetings and make new friends? And finally, is it normal to NOT want to tell people? I know that part of the recovery process is admiting you are powerless - what does that require? I guess I am hoping I can just quietly become a non-drinker without having to publicly own my alcoholism.
I pondered these questions too. So do a lot of others, because your questions are frequently asked here on SR.
I don't have answers that are the right or wrong way, I can share what I chose to do.
Telling my immediete family was a choice I made very early on. My husband and kids were the recipients of my baffling and often hurtful behavior, so it was important to me that they were the first to know I was making an effort to change.

More distant relatives and friends are a different matter. I told my best friend because we were drinking buddies for years and I know she has struggled to quit drinking before. Once I told her, we became buddies in recovery and it has been a fantastic development in our near 46-year friendship!

I have a lot of acquaintances and friends I am not particularly close to, I might see them once a year, and I don't see the point of sharing news of my sobriety with them considering I don't share any other personal news with them.

Essentially: you don't have to publicy own your recovery. A lot of it is individual. Some people are very comfortable being open about their sobriety, but I am a very private person. Being either way is fine.

It is not just a general powerlessness: the big book is very specific in explaining that we are powerless over alcohol. It doesn't mean we are powerless in all areas of our lives. To admit being powerless over alcohol is something we admit to ourselves: it isn't stated that we must admit this to anyone else.
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:58 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Hi EternalSunshine,

Great job on your first week I also came here asking that same question about how to tell people & as mentioned earlier most people were fine with the fact that I wasn't drinking (a lot didn't even notice, much to my surprise as I thought that my drinking/not drinking was the center of the universe... turns out it was only the center of mine ;-).

For now just say whatever is easy & comfortable for you. I find I express my decision differently depending on my relationship. Some believe that I am not drinking to lose some weight or to be more healthy & others know the reality of why (and have seen some of my actions while under the influence).

One thing I am still struggling to understand is why what I consider to be some close friends still don't seem to get how important this is to me regardless of how many times I explain this. Maybe I need to work on my story so that it cannot be misunderstood as to why I am doing it & how important it is. They still ask me to go out for drinks & don't seem to get it when I ask if we can go to a restaurant or coffee shop instead to catch up/talk.

I mean if a person who is diabetic mentioned their condition nobody would say to them... "come on... have a piece of cake" but people will still try to get us to have a drink of alcohol after telling them our story (WTF?). I still struggle with this but I am getting better at dealing with & avoiding situations that put me & my sobriety in jeopardy.

If you need to say medical reasons than say it... most any good reason can be true in regards to the negative effects that alcohol has on most of us at one time or another.

Take care & know that there are many of us here on this journey into sobriety with you.

Take Care,

NB
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:59 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I just say; 'i don't like it' (drinking)

I just say; I was living in a haze all day long and that got boring (smoking weed)

I just say; I'm too old for that stuff (xtc, speed, coke, shrooms)

I just say; It's stupid, I could just sniff smoke from a campfire as well, same concept (smoking sigarettes)
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:20 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I say i don't drink...that's it?!

I think we all have a different understanding of what a friend is, because in my mind a friend would not care whether i drank or not...
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:25 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Welcome to our recovery community ES......

I told everyone who would stand still how happy I was
to be a non drinker who attended AA.
I declared my apartment an alcohol free zone
thus my drinking friends drifted away rather quickly.

This allowed me time to get acquainted with AA members
who shared the same goals and lifestyle I desired.

My immediate family were non drinkers ...900 miles away.
When I told my Mother I had quit via AA
I got a "That's Good Did you go to church today?"

Perhaps I found it easier to be open about my recovery
because I was 52 when I quit. I was long past
looking for validation from anyone.
I had been a public drinker. if I could deal with that
I certainly could deal with being a public non drinker.

Step 1? I ask my sponsees to make a time line of
their drinking history Then we sit down and discuss
specifically what was unmanageable then and why that
happened because alcohol had made them powerless.

Glad to see you have started your journey ...
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:32 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Old 10-19-2009, 04:09 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Sometimes we tried to relieve ourselves of the uncomfortable feelings about having spent our time drinking & drugging by telling people we have stopped using. We hoped they would put our past behind us & show us the love and acceptance we found lacking in ourselves. We hoped they would support us in our decision because our strength was small. We were unsure of ourselves & wanted someone to tell us this is the right way to live our lives.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to proclaim your newfound desire, it really only matters to you. Everyone else may, or may not, see the changes in your conduct and your attitude. Actions speak louder than words? You've already expressed to others your willingness to stay committed to living a sober life. No major reprecussions? Stay focused on your life and let things take their natural course. Congrats on staying sober and keep coming back!!
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Old 10-19-2009, 04:47 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I'm glad you're doing well.

I didn't tell anyone.

I had let my family down so many times, I thought it would be best to just do it and be quiet about it. I think it's a highly personal decision and it's not something that I want to talk about with people who are not in recovery. I spent last week with a large group of family members and I don't think anyone pays the slightest attention to what I am drinking.
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Old 10-19-2009, 05:43 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Hi and welcome!
I've been on and off sobriety for almost three years now. Longest was 15 months and this time I'm on day 26. To tell or not to tell is your very own personal decision. I have no problem telling people if asked; however when I first came out of rehab I was almost too open too happy to tell people of what I saw as such an achievement until I realized not everybody saw it that way. My HB didn't want his family to know (all of a sudden I felt ashamed and also very hurt). My boss didn't want anybody to know because of my position (it could hurt the respect). So I had to way up what was right for me and I still stand by that when asked I will tell the truth if I want to or just say 'no thanks'. I think we read too much into what people think if you refuse to drink. I'm just not that important and that's actually a good thing. You will learn to deal with your feelings about this and make a decision that is right for you.
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Old 10-19-2009, 06:16 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Hi EternalSunshine...congrats on one week! I'm new here, too...just gettin going with the whole idea of having to stop. Even commenting here for the first time was very difficult. After I did that, I emailed my best friend last week and told him. We got together yesterday and he told me I had to tell my husband. I didn't want to, but I knew I had to. I didn't want to cause him any concern, or make our lives dramatic in any way. I felt like I was making him suffer for my problem. Anyway...I told him last night. I tried not to make it too heavy, (I know..) but he got the seriousness of it and promised his support.

As for other friends...I don't see them enough for it to really be an issue. I preferred to drink alone so they won't notice one way or the other. I will never tell my parents. Chrisinaustin said how I feel when he said "they would die of sadness". It would just kill them and for me, it's not worth it. They don't even know I drink anyway.

My kids are small, but when they get to the experimental drinking age, I will tell them how I struggled. They should know because of the possible heredity connection, and just for basic deterrence purposes.

So..that's just me. Hope these posts help...hope you keep checking in. I'm going to try and write more...it's still uncomfortable for me, but I can feel me changing and that's a good thing.
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:37 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I did tell my family and I am not sure if that is a mistake or not. What if I fail? They will be disappointed. My daughter told my parents about my drinking a few weeks before my mother died (it was a sudden death). I found out later that she was just devasted. I now know why she hugged me the last time I saw her. They only lived down the street it wasn't like I never saw her. I guess I told people because I would like some support from them? I don't know...tell whomever you think could help you in your quest.:ghug3
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