My ‘TMI’ Post About Relapsing Is Helping Me Heal

Love & Learn 37

If a photo is worth a thousand words, the picture I posted on Instagram earlier this week said "Hey, if you already knew I was an alcoholic, here's the uncomfortable proof that I recently had a relapse, but I'm back on the road to recovery, and if you didn't know I was an alcoholic, well, surprise! This is probably a little awkward for both of us."

Okay, actually that's only forty-eight words, but the point is that a simple photo of a one-month sobriety chip was a lot more than a collection of colored pixels. It was a message of perseverance, of acceptance -- a confession and a statement of hope. It was also what I suppose plenty of people would call an overshare.

As in, TOO MUCH INFORMAAAA-TION. There was a whole Wall Street Journal article a while back on oversharing, with quotes like "What triggers people to reveal too much?" and theories as to why our ability to self-regulate so frequently falls apart on social media:

We often regret our disclosures, feel like an idiot—and then worry even more about what the listener is thinking. We may feel compelled to "fix" the situation, leading to—you guessed it—even more blabbing. It's a cruel downward spiral.

I get what they're saying, I guess, but I don't know if there can be such a thing as a concrete definition of an overshare. Was it too personal -- too revealing, too embarrassing -- to post an image that made my troubles with alcohol public knowledge? Well, not for me it wasn't.

I've learned that a critical part of my recovery is being open and honest about my problems. I write about my setbacks and recovery in my blog, and while I don't spend every day posting Instagram photos that document my process, sharing that one simple image was incredibly powerful. The outpouring of support reminded me that there are hundreds of people in my corner, and I can feel that energy, even through a phone or computer screen. Step 2 in AA talks about "coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves." I am not a spiritual person, but it's not a stretch to believe that the people rooting for me -- friends, family, faceless Internet voices -- are, in fact, a higher power.

Talking online isn't my only outlet, of course. I go to meetings, I see a counselor once a week. But I cannot adequately state how valuable it's been to also share some of my painful secrets online. Even here, in this article. It's true that there are times when I feel an internal cringe, and think, oh god, now so-and-so knows this about me. Then eventually the relief comes: thank god it's out in the open. The shame of hiding my not-so-picture-perfect truth is gone. With the click of a button, I'm unburdened. The exhaustion of protecting my vulnerability is gone. I'm free.

Have you ever shared a difficult confession online? Was it a positive experience?

Image via Linda Sharps

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JS0512 JS0512

Linda, I wouldn't classify your photo and blog entry (which I read, as I've followed you for...I don't know, six years?) as over sharing or TMI.  I'd reserve those "judgements" for a post about baby poop & how great your sex was last night!  :)  I think posting the photo and your "confessions" are incredibly brave & empowering, and probably extremely helpful to other alcoholics.  You're being honest and putting it out there that you can "fall off the wagon" and get back on and it's ok.  I'm sure it sounds stupid to say because I don't know you and I think I've commented on your personal blog maybe three times in all the years I've read you, but I'm proud of you!

Enter... EnterAtOwnRisk

JS0512 took the words right out of my mouth, Linda! Keep going!


mrsda... mrsdangelo

I'm so proud of you! Which sounds silly, maybe, coming from someone who you've never met and only interacted with a few times online. But it's amazing what you've accomplished in the past month. And I don't think it's an overshare at all.

My biggest online confessions have come in the form of talking about baby loss (two: a stillbirth and a miscarriage). I even wrote up my birth story from my stillborn daughter's death. Some people probably don't want to hear about it, but they're welcome to skip the posts. I've had beautiful sentiments written to me and a lot of encouragement and support as a result of my confessions. And I hope you experience that, too.

BiBi Frederick Waltslady

This brought tears to my eyes, as I have three brothers who are all alcoholics- my oldest brother is the only one trying to fight his demons- I am soooo proud of him, and am extremely proud of you!!! I am also still a recovering addict (hard drugs) and am proud to say that in the past 5 years of my sobriety I have only relapsed twice and it has been 3 years since!! I know the fight is hard but you seem to have a GREAT husband and some amazing children by your side... KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK AND KEEP FIGHTING THAT FIGHT! YOU WILL SUCCEED!!!! xoxo

nonmember avatar Tara

Linda- I commend you on recognizing you have a problem and addressed/are addressing it. I will get slammed for this but I sometimes have an issue with people who make things public and expect praise for doing the right thing. Should someone who seeks out help be considered stronger and more courageous...of course. Yet in society we seem to ignore those who live their life the right way to begin with. For example, that guy from Glee was basically given martyr status for battling his demons. Yet what about the kid who grows up as a child of drug addicts has no advantages in life but still remains a law abiding productive individual. We tend to gloss over them. My point is that there should be much more pats on the backs for people who never needed to recover in the first place. Regardless keep up the good work.

nonmember avatar AnnaMarie Rossi

Tara I actually will not "slam" you because I agree with the basic premise. I too am a recovering drug addict. Your post did not insult and it was fair. However sometimes people like Linda need to express it publicly in order to "out" themselves. It's almost a fail safe in regards that the more people that know about our weaknesses the more we have to be cognizant of the implications of our actions or setbacks. I have been clean for the past ten years. I have a daughter who comes from the same reasoning that you do which makes me think someone you loved hurt you by their addiction. I agree that Cory Monteith received too much praise and that sends an extremely harmful message to children. We should recognize the good more often than the bad but unfortunately the society we live in thrives on drama. Best wishes Linda...AnnaMarie Rossiter...Philadelphia, PA

nonmember avatar lisakphillips

Mmm I don't know. First off, congrats, relapse is often a part of long-term recovery from any addiction. My only concern is that I don't know how old your kids are, and with every post public and so many kids being little bullies nowadays, I don't know if that would make a difference in whether or not I shared something. Certainly not something to be ashamed of, but kids are more easily embarrassed and I just hope some little jerk wouldn't be told about this by a parent and use it to be an asshole to your kids.

nonmember avatar Kristi

Not my version of a TMI and I feel you didn't do this for "praise". The way I see it is that you are a truther. A truther is gonna tell the truth because that is how they roll. Kids are driving you nuts, Legos effing suck, I had a relapse and will be better for it. Keep on truthin'.

nonmember avatar BABYMADE2

It seems a bit selfish to post it particularly when you have children. We live in a world where five year olds have iPads and know how to read quite well. Nothing against your recovery but basically you just set your children up for ridicule. It's your battle not theirs but you have made them targets. No matter how evolved you may think people are this will be used against them and for that reason I think it's a parenting fail. I commend your honesty but it now has collateral damage.

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