Building a Community around Alcohol(ism)
When I was in my twenties – fearless and thirsty – alcohol was the glue that kept me bonded to my friends. In beer we found laughter and silliness. Vodka gave us courage and lowered our inhibitions. Shy, private individuals became a loud, extroverted community of fun seekers when we shared our lubricating beverage. We were like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. When we drank, we fit together.
With the encouragement of my community, I shaved my head except for a strip of long hair running down the middle from my forehead to the back of my neck. It was my junior year in college. I would be interviewing for a job soon, and I would need to look professional. This was my last chance to have a mohawk, and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity.
It was a warm, sunny, Saturday in the spring, and my sliver of hair was spiked to perfection. We had a long day of outdoor drinking ahead of us, and one of my friends smiled as she looked at my mostly bald head. She took out her lipstick and drew our university logo on one side below my mohawk, and my fraternity letters on the other side of my noggin (it was 1994 and, sadly, we weren’t attached to cell phones with cameras, so, alas, no picture – sorry). In my exuberant and inebriated state, I never even considered sunscreen for my virgin baldness.
I stared at my bulbous, bright-red brain container in the mirror the next morning. It was bright-red except for the pale-white university logo and fraternity letters branded into my skull by the highly effective SPF in the lipstick.
When my mohawk was not spiked, it looked ridiculous as it drooped to one side or the other. Add to that my branding, and I was quite a site to see. It was not the first time a day of heavy drinking had left shameful and disturbing calamity in its wake, and it wouldn’t be the last. My friends – the same ones who encouraged me the day prior – laughed. They laughed hard. They laughed for days and days. I laughed, too. It was as grotesque a self-inflicted and intentional disformity as any of us had ever seen.
I still laugh when I think back to that college weekend of carefree overindulgence. My fond memories are not for the pain of a sunburned head or for wearing a hat everywhere for the weeks that followed. My love for that weekend comes from the people that shared it with me. They were my brothers and sisters, and they loved me just like I loved them. As much as I now despise alcohol for the trauma and devastation it has brought me and my family, I can’t deny that it made me a part of a caring and generous community.
That alcohol would soon leave me isolated and lonely, filled with shame and hiding from the inescapable stigma, would not have been comprehendible in the spring of 1994. But that’s what happened to me. That’s what happens to all of us when alcohol tips the scale from fun to dysfunction.
I want alcohol to again build my community, but in a much healthier and lasting way. Last month I released my new ebook titled, Guide to Early Sobriety. I am offering it for free for two reasons. First, early sobriety was the hardest thing I have ever experienced, and I would do almost anything to help people survive that torturous and fragile horror. Second, I want to remove every barrier to you reading it because I want your feedback.
I hope to expand and evolve my experiences and opinions about early sobriety into a program to help people find hope in the dark and isolated pit of alcohol-induced despair. Let’s face it – traditional modes of addiction recovery have dismal success rates. The system is not working for enough people. I am among many in a new wave of recovery warriors who found unique paths to permanent sobriety, and I want to build my road into a super-highway of recovery.
It is time for a better mousetrap, and I have big ideas.
But I don’t want to do this alone. I can’t do it alone. My tactics and strategies in early sobriety worked for me. They will work for many high-functioning alcoholics like me. But my method will not work for everyone. I accept and acknowledge the limitation. I do, however, want my techniques to work for many, and that’s why I want to include feedback from many as I develop the program curriculum. I need your help.
I’m talking to you. If you are struggling with the role alcohol plays in your life, please help me. If you are in early sobriety and find comfort in my writing, please tell me what works for you and what does not. If you love someone who struggles, your input is extremely valuable. If you have your own reasons for learning about addiction and reading my writing, your perspective is required. If you are my friend, please tell me what makes sense and what leaves you puzzled.
I have a short survey to facilitate the feedback process. If you have read all or part of my ebook, Guide to Early Sobriety, I want to hear from you. I have dedicated the rest of my life to destroying the stigma associated with alcoholism and helping cure this disease of shame and hushed whispers. Won’t you take just a few minutes to help me?
My community of readers is growing. The emails, phone calls, text messages, social media responses and blog comments keep me going. You inspire me to stay on this path and fight for our mutual survival. And I owe it all to alcohol.
I once celebrated a community that resulted in a sunburned head complete with a ridiculous, cult-like branding. I loved those people in spite of the damage alcohol was reaping.
I’m falling in love again because of alcohol. This time, I am inspired and transfixed by the stories of heartache and loss that you trust me enough to share with me. This time, there is no shame. There is no isolation or loneliness. I am filled with hope and determination to change the glorification of alcohol and let reality and truth reign.
I’m permanently sober. I’ve won my fight (with a lot of help from the recovery warriors who came before me). I’m not doing this for me.
I’m doing this for you and your loved ones and our neighbors and our friends and our families. I’m doing this for our big, beautiful and growing community who wants to face alcohol addiction head-on and never back down.
I’m doing this for my new community, and I need your help. If you have not yet read my FREE ebook, please consider reading it now. Once you have read it, even just the parts that most interest you, please take my brief survey. You can provide feedback that is as succinct or detailed as you like, and you only have to answer questions on topics where you have a passion.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for being in community with me. Thanks for your encouragement. Thanks for joining this fight worth fighting for the lives worth living.
Please take my brief, ten question survey about early sobriety. We are all in this together, and your feedback is important! Thanks in advance!