Shame is probably one of the top five, if not the most common feeling amongst alcoholics. Shame because of what they said or did when drunk. Shame for allowing themselves to get to the point of being addicted. Shame because they are the only person they know who is addicted. But are they?
When I first started my sober Instagram account I had no intention of putting my face to it. I wanted to share my journey and my experience, but secretly. One of the most frustrating things, for me, about alcoholism is the silence around it. It’s not talked about, and when it rarely is, there is a real stigma to it. You hear about ‘normal drinkers’ and alcoholics. The vast spectrum in between, known as ‘grey area drinking’, is never mentioned or addressed. There is so much that goes on between those extremes it seems ridiculous it goes unmentioned.
I realised after a couple of weeks, that by not putting my face to my Instagram account I was supporting the silence and endorsing the shame felt by others (and me). If this was something I felt so strongly about, then I needed to put a face to my account and show others who were struggling that alcoholism has many faces. It is the doctor, it is the support worker, it is the project manager. It all those people who seemingly, from the outside looking in, have it all together. We’re just so damn good at hiding it.
It is so important for people who are just starting their sober journey to have faces to put to experiences and journeys. So they can see there are people in the world, like them, who struggle with their drinking but are willing to come out of the shadows and make their experience real and relatable and to show that AA isn’t the only way to giving up drinking (Note: AA is great and works for hundreds and thousands of people, but it isn’t for everyone). There is a whole online community of people who will support you every step of the way and be your biggest champions when you reach your goals.
Only when we shine a light on alcoholism and initiate real, honest conversations will people start to feel more confident about coming forward and seeking help for their issues. Getting addicted to an addictive drug is not something to be ashamed of. It is sadly, more common than we will ever know.