I can't keep it if I don't give it away
Updated: Jun 14, 2020
I woke up this morning to find this little note from Facebook:
“Congratulations! You’ve reached 500 page likes on Facebook!”
500 page likes.
I know, I know. In the grand scheme of social media posters, YouTubers, bloggers, etc., the people who are considered real “influencers”, 500 likes is nothing.
But, to someone who, not so long ago felt they didn’t have a voice, this is everything.
To someone who used to drink away her feelings of unworthiness and shame, this is everything.
To someone who used to wake up and feel completely alone, this is everything.
So, yes, I recognize that 500 people liking my page is a pretty teeny, tiny number, but to this alcoholic, this is everything. The virtual hug that I feel at the possibility that my words, thoughts and story might help someone who is feeling unheard, lonely, frightened and ashamed right now, is amazing!
I was never intending to “out” myself and share my story. I was pretty darn content to stand in the background and do what had already been working for me.
Working the Steps with my sponsor
Being of service to other women
Prayer and meditation
All of this was working for me, so why try to fix what ain’t broke, right?
Sobriety had been good to me. I could feel myself coming back. The Maria I once knew. She wasn’t hiding her pain anymore behind a dirty martini or a bottle of wine hidden in her closet. Every day, I saw the sunrise and realized that I could check off another sober day on my calendar!
At five and a half years sober, I was bursting with such gratitude that I’m not even sure I had the option of not sharing! I wanted…I needed…all of my dear family member and friends who had watched me fall, be able to now, see me rise from the burden that alcohol had placed on me. Rise from the shame that took a normally optimistic, friendly and outgoing personality into complete isolation. Rise from the suffocation of victimhood, blaming everyone and everything for my drinking. Sobriety had brought me back and no longer was alcohol going to smother the real me back into that horrible hole.
I had heard the expression in a meeting that “I can’t keep it if I don’t give it away”...so I started giving it away…and I found real recovery. The more I shared my story, the more people would open up to me about their own relationship with alcohol or their concerns about a friend or family member struggling with addiction. The more I focused on helping others, the easier it was to focus on my own sobriety.
My honesty in giving away my truth was helping me not only stay sober, but it was also reeling me to keep sharing. Every time I shared, I was blessed with a sense of belonging and worthiness that had alcohol had promised, but never fulfilled. It was sobriety, openness and honesty that was helping me find myself again. All those years of hiding behind a bottle had only pushed the old me further and further into the distance, but sharing my story of recovery and hope had actually brought the real me back to the forefront!
I had found my voice. I share openly because I’ve learned that when I do, a little bit more of the layers of shame and stigma seem to melt away. I share openly because strangers in the rooms of AA had freely shared with me when I needed so badly to hear hope and solution.
It’s not for everyone. Believe me, I was terrified and wondered what the outcome would be, but God keeps pushing me and giving me the strength and I keep moving on. One day at a time.
So, to all of my 500 Facebook friends, I offer a sincere hug of gratitude for helping me to continue to find my voice. Thank you for helping me to stay sober and for keeping me walking the journey and to be of service to those who might need to hear that sobriety IS possible.
There IS hope again.
There IS joy again.
There IS recovery!